Yesterday, it was snowing again in the Colorado mountains where I live. So I decided to go on a hike alone. I love the austerity of the mountains when they’re covered in snow. I love that few others want to be outside. I love how insignificant and exposed I feel.
It wasn’t an easy hike. The trail and the surrounding mountains were submerged in snow. For a visitor, it’d be impossible to know where a trail might even begin. But this is my backyard.
I began my hike, trudging through one, two, three feet of snow in thick winter boots. It was slow, hard work. No trail markers, no tracks; nothing but me and a mountain of snow.
Our stories are trail markers that help us understand who we are, what we value, and where we’re going.
But step by plodding step, I zigzagged around a neighboring mountain. Then I made it past another mountain and another, until finally I arrived at the end of the trail.
I was tired, the sun was setting, and I still needed to get home.
So I turned around.
I looked out at the majestic mountain range I’d traversed, and I felt how easy it would be to get lost in the snow-covered wilderness. Then I looked down at the trail of footsteps before me; a trail that hadn’t existed when I’d begun my journey; a trail that now beckoned me home.
As I stepped into my own cavernous footsteps, I realized that things had changed. No longer was I forging a path where there’d been no path before. I had my own footsteps to step in – and I knew they would lead me in the right direction.
I walked, unburdened by the wild mountains surrounding me, realizing that my footsteps in the snow were an important metaphor for the power of story in our lives.
Our footsteps – our stories – are trail markers that help us understand who we are, what we value, and where we’re going. When the weather gets bad, and the trail is hard to find, we can always retrace our stories to make our way home.
—Daniel Jacobs, Avanoo CEO & Co-founder
Daniel Jacobs is a husband, father, inventor, and storyteller. His work has been featured on Fortune, Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Apple News, HuffPost, and most major news publications in the United States. He is CEO and co-founder of Avanoo, which uses the power of stories to drive connection, belonging, and performance in the workplace.
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