Recently I went on a trip to Belize with some folks from my church. We spent four days working and about a day and a half sightseeing.
One of the sights we wanted to see was the Blue Hole. It had been raining hard that day, and initially it appeared that the park where the Blue Hole was located was closed. But a park employee came out and opened the gate to let us in.
Before long we were hiking along a muddy, slippery trail in search of the pool of water. Since it had been raining and I hoped to take a dip in the Blue Hole, I had changed my tennis shoes for sandals. Big mistake.
Our group got spread out along the trail as some of the younger, more adventurous ones went on ahead. After a while the group I was in heard someone shouting behind us.
It was the park ranger. Turns out we were on the wrong trail. I understood him to say the trail we were on didn’t even go to the Blue Hole. I agreed to try to catch us to the ones ahead of us, while the others turned around.
After a couple of near slips, I knew I wasn’t making up much ground. I decided I had to run. So run I did.
Weird things go through your mind when your running along a slick rain forest trail.
Things like, “If I fall down that steep embankment, will they ever find my body?”
And, “What in the world am I doing here?“
And, “I certainly wouldn’t have put on these sandals if I knew I was going to have to run?”
Eventually, I caught up with several of the others. I went back with a group of them while another fellow went ahead and caught up with the others. On the way back the raindrops came to an end and mosquito swarms came out of nowhere.
Later, I found out that I had misunderstood the ranger. The trail did go to the Blue Hole, it was just a mile and a half away — a good 45 minute hike on a dry day. A few of those in the group made it to the pool and even took a swim.
I never even laid eyes on the Blue Hole, but the others told me it wasn’t very blue because of all the rain.
Initially, I was disappointed, tired and frustrated. Looking back, it wasn’t so bad. We all made it back, although a few had some minor injuries, and it makes a great story.
So what did I learn, other than never change into sandals when you’re going to be hiking through a rainy rain forest?
First, I learned it’s best to know where the trail leads before you start. Sometimes in life, we’re faced with multiple options. It’s good to be decisive and take action, but it’s usually better to get the information you need to make a good decision.
Next, I learned it’s best to listen closely to people who know the lay of the land. Had I realized that the trail eventually led to the Blue Hole, I would have likely either turned back then or kept going until I reached the destination. Either way, I wouldn’t have had to make a mad dash on slick grass.
At times, when we face a decision it often pays to find someone who’s been in a similar position. Find out how they fared and learn from their experience.
Finally, I learned that it pays to have a leader. If any of us had ever been on that trail, we would have known how far it was to the Blue Hole. We would have known to drive down to another trail, much closer to where we wanted to go.
In life and in business, a good mentor makes the difference. Find someone who’s already successful and do what they did. They know the trail already.
This mentoring program made a difference in my life and business.