7 lessons from a Spiritual Pilgrimage

Where in the world is Bhutan?

I’d never heard of it, and I do recall being awake and alert during geography class.

Nevertheless, thanks to a digital atlas, aka Google Earth, I was able to locate one of the world’s last kingdoms. Well, my 30-hour flight started at JFK Airport in New York City, then on to Seoul, South Korea, and Bangkok, Thailand (overnight). The opening night there included dinner with an icebreaker to meet and greet 24 CEOs from all four corners of the globe.

The next morning, we headed to the airport and flew to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, and finally landed in Bhutan. Here’s a point of reference: This incredible country is nestled in the Himalayan mountains between India and China.

Did I mention that the purpose of me going was for a hiking trek with a heavy dose on Self-Care? Yes, you heard me correctly. I grew up in Buffalo, New York (Go Bills), and no one who looks like me hiked (at least that I knew of). The only hiking I did while growing up was from the bus stop. Since moving to Florida, the longest hike I’d done was from my car to the beach (to work on my Godiva tan). Smile.

When I first received the invitation to attend this exclusive event, my inner voice said, “Black folks don’t hike.” Nevertheless, after obtaining permission and strong encouragement from my boss — tiger mom, future CIA agent, queen of figureoutability, all wrapped up into one person, aka my wife, Jodi — I said “yes” before I knew what I was getting myself into.

On one of our first days in Bhutan, and before the hike, there was considerable time spent on centering and releasing expectations of who we thought we needed to be.

Lesson 1 – Who You are Is Bigger than What You Do

Lesson 2 – Let Go of Control

Lesson 3 – Embrace the Journey – This was my sleeping quarters overnight with the monks.

Lesson 4 – Your Breakthrough Is an Unexpected Place

Lesson 5 – Experience Everything and Refrain from Shutting Down

Lesson 6 – Reset, Realign, and Re-emerge

Lesson 7 – Encouragement Is Oxygen for the Soul

The hike up to the monastery was at an altitude of 10,000 feet (or 3.5 miles). I was out of shape and didn’t prepare for this hiking trip.

Just when I wanted to give up and turn around, my guide, Phub, offered to carry my backpack. I asked him how far we had to go, and he replied, “Just a little bit more.” Almost 2.5 hours later, I finally made it.

I am not going to say that I came in dead last. Nevertheless, this wasn’t a competition.

Phub used the five most important words: “Just a little bit more.”