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The Grand Canyon Series is a collection of how executive coaching helped Mark Daly adequately prepare, train for, and create a peaceful mind during his tremendous (and sometimes treacherous!) experiences in one of America’s greatest destinations.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Bieber, Austrian Philosopher

The Best Laid Plans…

WHILE I HAD several weeks preparing for a multiple-night backpacking trip to Grand Canyon in May, I learned that all the prep in the world can’t prepare you for the actual event. Obstacles will be present regardless of how much preparation is made in advance. The same is true for life, work, relationships and any unknown event that arrives and tries to block our path to success.

This particular hike presented obstacles upon leaving the car! The blazing heat informed me I had worn the wrong hat (Gore-Tex). Should have chosen straw – or Panama. Wrong shirt (tight manmade fibers) instead of loose-fitting cotton and natural fibers. Wrong food (pre-packaged pizza) that caused severe added thirst and reaction to preservatives! I had packed too heavy (too much pre-packing) which just added weight. Wrong boots. (“Aren’t those from college?” my partner inquired.) Wrong socks (too thick one day, too thin the next) causing my nail to separate from the big toe.

The simple act of opening the car door caused me to sweat – which meant dehydration was setting in already. I was a sopping mess before long – and we hadn’t even really begun. Uh-oh. By the time I reached camp, nausea, dizziness, and delirium set in – which is right about when I noticed I’d lost my good sunglasses. (Authors note: we eventually retraced all our steps to no avail). And all of this was happening on the easy, downhill leg of the hike! These warning signs meant it was time to take a step back. My partner and I regrouped. He helped me pitch my tent. I was able to rehydrate without exhausting our cache water for the return journey. We dumped out my pack. Rethought the wardrobe selection. Placed half the food in a bucket and suspended it from trees for the return journey. Studied the map, elevation change, distance, and route for the climb out. Stashed the bad socks.

So – despite weeks of preparation, obstacles were present from the start. Dealing with those obstacles made the difference between aborting the trip on Day 1 and regrouping soon enough to avoid disaster and create a successful trip!

Moving Forward with the GOOD (Goals, Objectives, Obstacles, Doing) Model of Coaching

DURING THE NEXT few articles in the Grand Canyon Series, we’ll look at each component of the GOOD (Goals, Objectives, Obstacles, Doing) model of coaching. As you might have already ascertained, today’s entry is about overcoming the obstacles that can interfere with your best-laid plans.

The Grand Canyon offers spectacular scenery, topography and geology, yet obstacles persist. There are mosquitos, ants, flies, rattlesnakes, spider scorpions, tarantulas, hawk wasps, mice, poison plants, flash flooding, lightning, the Colorado river, and the risk of falling from the Rim – or off the inner canyon walls!

“(Our goal) is to identify the mistakes and decisions which commonly kill people in Grand Canyon. By identifying and sharing them we’ll be in a better position to avoid and prevent lethal errors. Instead of blame, we seek understanding. This sort of knowledge, combined with common sense, saves lives.” – Death in the Grand Canyon by M. Ghiglieri and T. Myers

Executive Coaching helps overcome obstacles and offers an opportunity for tremendous personal and professional growth; but requires courage, commitment, and change.

The Courage to Change

“THE LONGER YOU wait to do something now, the greater the odds you will actually never do it” – John C. Maxwell, commenting on the Law of Diminishing Returns.

So let me ask you a question – what’s holding you back?

  • Coworker and colleague conflict?
  • Promotion and transition planning?
  • Failure to address personal life issues – loss of job, loss of spouse, grieving for loved one?
  • Overestimation of skills & knowledge beyond your specific expertise?
  • Refusing to ask for help?
  • Lack of accountability?


ALL THE PREP in the world won’t always be enough to avoid the obstacles life will put in the way of your business. When you start seeing the warning signs, an Executive Coach can help you step back, regroup, and determine the best way forward. I’m a quick call or e-mail away at 986.888.0111 or when you need a sounding board to bounce ideas off of about wherever you are on your journey. In the meantime, check out these resources when reflecting on your current business needs.

Finally, here’s a picture of what ended up being an ideal lightweight kit. I’ll have it for next time! If you are planning a long hike anytime soon, learn from my mistakes!

The Ideal Lightweight Pack – Designed by Bob Rathbone (pictured)