What is Your Grand Canyon?

A few days late on my return from Northern Arizona in the land that technology forgot…

Last week we headed up to Northern Arizona for vacation. Part of our plan was to spend a couple of days on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Having never been there, I was looking forward to its majesty.

It did not disappoint.

Standing at various viewpoints around the canyon’s rim I was riveted by its size and beauty. Even though I had studied and seen photos, at 277 miles long, nearly 10 miles wide and a mile deep, it was difficult to calibrate my mind to what I was seeing.

I could only wonder what the first native peoples and explorers thought when they stumbled upon the canyon. In many places, thick pine and scrub forests go right up to the edge. I imagined someone walking or riding a horse with a far off destination in mind and their surprise when they came up unexpectedly to the rim and saw the expanse before them. There were no IMAX 3D films, maps or GPS technology that could easily explain what they had stumbled upon. I’m sure it was both amazing and terrifying at once.

Indeed some explorers thought it a vast “wasteland” with no measureable value. Others spent days trying to get down the canyon to the Colorado river to no avail. And some, like John Wesley Powell, decided that it needed to be experienced and spent over 20 days riding the entire Colorado River through the canyon. Or the Kolb brothers, who set up their studio on the rim of the canyon creating famous photographs that still amaze today.

Sitting on the edge of the canyon there at sunset and then again at sunrise the next day, I asked myself “if I had been one of those early explorers traveling from ‘back east’ to somewhere ‘west’, what would I have done?”

I hope I would have had the realization that I was experiencing something out of this world and amazing, with the ability to take it all in. But, most likely, with a limited view of the world at the time, it would have not happened that way.

Instead, like others, I would have had to make one of three choices:

  • Turn back – thinking that there was no way around or through what I could not fathom or understand.
  • Forge my way through – so determined by the need to travel to my ultimate destination that I would find my way around.
  • Stop and change my plans – deciding this had become my new destination and set-up camp as so many did in pioneer times when they found a new place to call home.

And, without judgement, for any adventurer, any of these could ultimately be the “right” decision.

It is not lost on me that this is similar to the journey and decisions that many of my clients make.

As entrepreneurs, they have a vision that others might not see and set out on their quest. It is not uncommon for them to find not one but sometimes many “grand canyons” along their journey. Each time – without the benefit of someone pioneering ahead of them, they stumble onto something they have not experienced in the past. And each time they have to make the decision to turn back, forge on or change course completely.  

I sat that evening and quieted my mind, only hearing the wind whisper through the pines around me. When the sun dropped below the west rim, I knew one thing.

With hindsight there is much wisdom, but when the Grand Canyon is in front of you – any of these choices can ultimately become the right decision.

What is your Grand Canyon?