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Hard Things

Doing some hard stuff with some cool people on a beautiful Colorado mountain

By John Jarvis

I have been talking a lot with our brokers here at Hughes Marino about getting out on wilderness adventures as a team. For my part, I typically have one or two trips on the calendar at any given time, either with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) or Cairn Leadership Strategies. The NOLS Alumni trips are a week long, but Cairn packs most of their adventures into weekend getaways, which got me thinking–we could sign up for these weekend Cairn adventures with each of our offices. Wouldn’t that be great for team building, each office doing a different trip, and as a company we would have all these different but common experiences that we could talk about and share and compare notes. Yeah, let’s do it! Except, many of our team members have young families, and it can be really challenging to get away for a weekend with your workmates. I totally get that. What to do?

And then it occurred to me, these adventures are really comprised of just three core elements: we do something hard, we do it together, and we do it in a beautiful outdoor setting. As long as we capture these three elements, maybe we don’t need a full weekend? And thus, was born the idea for a sunrise peak hike! Our Denver team took the idea and ran with it. Last week I had the pleasure of joining with them as we hiked up the Manitou Incline.

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The Manitou Incline is 2,744 steps, climbing over 2,000 vertical feet in just over a mile. The average grade is 41% and the steepest grade is 68%. (Most staircases are between 30-35% grade.) The incline was originally built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak, and once that project was finished, apparently they turned it into a staircase, knowing that the hearty, healthy Colorado community would jump at the chance to hike, climb or run a cool staircase up a mountainside.

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When I woke up that morning at 4:00 AM, the forecast called for rain, and at over 8,000 feet of elevation, I was thinking that there was a good chance the weather could turn nasty and really enhance the challenge. This, I thought, could be a good thing. Knight Campbell, CEO of Cairn, has been known to say, “I almost hope that there is at least one point during the weekend when each person says to themselves ‘I wish I hadn’t signed up for this.’” It is supposed to be gritty. It is supposed to be hard.

So, let’s talk about hard things. Each and every one of us on this planet over the course of our lives are going to have to go through hard things. This, unfortunately, is a fact of life. As I was pondering all of this, it occurred to me that all those hard things fit exactly into two buckets: The hard things we choose and the hard things we didn’t choose. For me, the hard things I choose are much more tolerable than the hard things I didn’t choose. If I am suffering on a long, hot trail hike, all I have to do is remind myself: I chose this, now let’s get through it. And those other hard things, the ones that I didn’t choose, those awful things that just happened, man, those are really hard.

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Another thing about the hard things that we choose–we are essentially practicing getting through hard things. The more we practice, the better we get. And when the bad things, aka the really hard things, happen, we are, perhaps, a bit better prepared to deal with them, to get through it, to maintain our composure and to just take one step at a time and move forward, maybe even with a clear mind and a calm manner.

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As it turns out, for our climb up the Manitou Incline, it didn’t rain, and that is OK. It was hard, but not too hard. It was certainly beautiful and awe-inspiring like one would expect of the Colorado mountains. Everyone made it to the top and everyone made it back down. There were a few sore knees, and we will all recover. We made a plan, and we executed that plan very well. And we did it together. That checks all the boxes for me.

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John Jarvis is an executive vice president of Hughes Marino, a global corporate real estate advisory firm that specializes in representing tenants and buyers. Contact John at 1-844-662-6635 or john@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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