Learning what people need

For the last 5 years, some of my best friends have gotten together to meet up and have an adventure. It all started when my mentor and friend, Steve Slater, hosted his son’s bachelor party. We enjoyed Steve’s hospitality in his cottage on Lake Michigan with the added benefit of having several of our friends join us for great food, golf, skeet shooting, and pub runs.

This year, we gathered in a cabin in Breckenridge, CO. The stunning mountains that surrounded us served as the backdrop for our 4 day excursions into the beauty of Colorado.

Our weekend started with a very chilly round of golf at Copper Mountain. Here, the early seasonal snow had just melted off the course, and while we tried to bundle up as much as we could, our game was obviously a bit off as reflected by the scorecard. As usual, we kept the conversation lively, learning what we had discovered about ourselves since we had last spent time together, and how we had grown in our respective roles in family, business, and life.

Day two was scheduled to be a day where we would hike up Chief Mountain, a trail just north of Frisco, CO. We started the morning prepping our gear, having breakfast, and talking about the adventure that lay ahead of us. Our goal was to reach the top of Chief Mountain, where another trail intersected and then do a return hike down the mountain. We made it to the top of the mountain and literally stood in awe of the higher peaks that surrounded us. The hike ended up being 13.1 miles long with just over 2200 feet of elevation gain, the most any of us had ever done. The hot tub at the cabin was a welcome respite to let us rest and re-charge our tired legs!

Day three was going to be the pinnacle of the weekend. We had planned a cycling trip around Lake Dillon from Breckenridge and back. The original plan was to ride 36 miles, which would offer stunning views of the lake, and the many mountain peaks that surrounded it.

One part of the cycling trip was up a long climb called Swan Mountain. Not being a strong climber, I knew that I was going to take it slow and easy. As we were riding up the first leg, my friend Brock hung back with me to chat. I was suffering. I didn’t want to talk, and I let him know it! Brock lives and breathes for adventure. There are very few people who know how to stay in the moment better than he. I knew that we would share the story, but I just didn’t want to share it at that time! I told him, “Go on ahead and stretch your legs!” He stated he wanted to stay with me, but again I said, “That’s fine, but I’m not talking!” Partly because I didn’t have the extra breath to do so, and partly because I get into my own head when I suffer on the bike.

After what was supposed to be a 36 mile ride turned into a 42 mile ride, we were all ready for a good meal and even better story telling.

I was thinking about what I needed during the climb and what Brock needed. I knew that I couldn’t offer a lot (if any) conversation while we were climbing, however I also knew that I would be more than ready to share the story later over a hearty dinner!

Here’s the point. There are times when we bring whatever we can to a relationship, and there are other times when we have nothing to offer. Brock understood that I could not offer what he needed at the time of the climb, and I knew that I could offer it later. Although these specific words weren’t spoken, there seemed to be an understanding between us. I was looking forward, he was in the present. All the while Steve was hammering up the mountain, beating his own goals!

One of the most freeing discoveries that I have learned is to be honest with what I’m feeling. This is especially healthy in long-term friendships. When I was honest with Brock, there wasn’t any animosity between us, there was a high level of respect. Afterwards, we were able to elaborate on our feelings, and still get what we both needed and the stories began to unfold as we quickly reminisced about our adventure for the day.

My thought for today is this:

Be honest with how you are feeling. If there is a true friendship that you have, these feeling will be accepted and not discarded. I recognized what Brock needed and validated his feelings, and he recognized what I needed and validated mine.

It was a small breakthrough, but it is also a valuable life lesson I believe we can all learn!


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