All I really need to know, I learned on the Trail

Written by Reynolds Defense Firm

On October 18, 2018

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by Tammy Reynolds

We’ve all heard of the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, right?  Well, I believe that this notions in this book can be applied to many different things that we do in our lives and that the common thread is simplicity.  Recently Dan & I had the opportunity to take a week-long backpacking trip in the Olympic National Park in Washington.  Like in kindergarten, our days were pretty simple and our responsibilities few.  Turns out that combination allows you to have some space and clarity to think, and, with that newfound clarity, here are some things that I discovered:

  1. Stop and say hi to people!  Check in about where they are going, where they have been, and how the experience has been.  Share the journey together with “strangers.”  There’s something about the shared experience which allows you to connect on a deeper level than you normally would in regular life.
  2. When you have a map that you trust – you can relax & “enjoy the journey”.  When you know where you are going, there is no need to worry about things that go wrong along the way; you just overcome the smaller scale issues and know you’re still headed in the right direction in the big picture.  Maybe you arrive at a slightly different time or in a slightly different way, but you’ll still get there.  Each day on the trail we had a “big goal” which was our final destination and also smaller, daily goals, and we started each day by checking in with both goals to make sure we were on track, then we just focused on what was right in front of us.  Knowing that we had all day to achieve our goal allowed us to relax and not worry about getting it done or getting there by a certain time.  At the end of each day, we savored that we had et our daily goal and there was a tangible feeling of accomplishment toward our bigger goal.
  3. Get up & get stuff done so you can relax and enjoy the rest of your day.  We got up early so that we could hike in low tide, which allowed us to take our time, not be rushed, and enjoy our mornings, then get to our destination early and relax and explore our home for the evening.  A real-world example of the book Eat that Frog!
  4. There is something nice and simple about having everything you need on your back.  It makes it so easy to decide what to wear, what to eat, etc.  It is all there – you don’t have many choices, and each day you pack it all up and carry it to your new home.  We didn’t spend extra time (or brain space) worrying about these things because we didn’t have a choice.  Even if we weren’t a big fan of the lunch we packed or didn’t feel like wearing a particular shirt, there weren’t other options so it became a non-issue.
  5. When you don’t have distractions at your fingertips (TV, phone, social media, work), you have to get creative with free time.  How are you going to entertain yourself?  Some things we did: listening to waves & birds, creating sand drawing or cairns, taking funny (or interesting) photos, writing, breathing, noticing all the little stuff – leaves, bugs, how the light hits the trees, etc.  We found that boredom is good – if you find yourself bored, just look up and look around – what do you see? Pay attention to the small things – those are the moments of wonder and joy. Notice the connection of things in nature and take the time to appreciate it more.
  6. Sometimes you go slow to go fast.  When we were moving over slippery, seaweed-covered rocks in the tidal zones, it felt so slow going!  We could only focus on what was right in front of us because it would be really easy to slip and fall.  Occasionally, we’d look up and the destination would seem so far away, but when we were done, we’d look at the time and realize that we actually did it pretty quickly.  Multitasking wasn’t an option, we just kept efficiently moving through a hard stretch and used our brains and bodies to accomplish it.  We stopped when we needed breaks, and we still made good time.  That helped us see that skipping meals, or not taking care of yourself in some other way, may seem like you’re ‘cheating the clock’ by freeing up extra time, but ultimately, it doesn’t work.
  7. Sometimes our bodies & minds lie to us.  You think “I just can’t do any more” and then you rest or have a snack or a drink of water and realize you CAN do more, and you keep moving forward.
  8. Perspective can change everything.  Sometimes we’d look ahead and there appeared to be a really difficult overland pass or a rock field that we’d need to go through, but when we arrived there, we found that there were easy routes through the obstacle. In other words, instead of worrying about a vague ‘something’ that we couldn’t do anything about ahead of time, we chose to tackle each challenge as it arrived. Vague worrying didn’t do us any good because the up-close perspective of that ‘something’ was often completely different than the perspective from far away.
  9. The benefits of moving your body (and challenging it) are real.  At the end of the day, there was satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, minimal stress, and much more clarity. This makes for a great night of sleeping!

Obviously, we can’t live the trail life all the time – it isn’t practical and some people might not enjoy it as much as we did.  But, we can take some of these things and figure out how to inject them into our regular lives so that we can get some of the benefits when we are off the trail.  And, for us, getting back out on the trail as often as possible helps to reinforce these lessons and allows us to recharge so that we can better help more people, both our clients and our Team. What can you do to give yourself some clarity?


Tammy Reynolds is RDF’s Director of Brand Integrity and Growth. Tammy’s great mix of creativity and straightforward logic has been instrumental in growing the Reynolds Defense Firm as a business while allowing us to remain true to the core values and beliefs that make us so successful. Outside the office, Tammy loves CrossFit, backpacking, being inverted in nature, and of course, her son Jack who is thirteen years old.  To learn more about Tammy and how she brings focus to the client experience in everything we do, please visit the Our Team page.



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