Muddy Boots

Nov 3, 2022 | General, Leadership

Have you ever come back from a hike, maybe in the middle of spring when the rain torrents still come out of nowhere and the ground is turned to thick gloopy mud? You come back to the car or your house and look down at your boots. They are not so much ‘muddy’ as ‘drowned’. Caked in several inches of sticky oozy grey brown dirt that bears proud testament to the miles travelled and the views seen.

And then comes the question of what to do next?

This image came to me today as I was pondering how I felt, a couple of weeks out from having left my job, in an organization where I worked for over 22 years. Today I feel lighter and free-er. My brain is starting to see possibilities and creativities that it hadn’t seen before. The cognitive equivalent of having let my boots dry out and then banged them together and watched the clumps of mud fall off. It feels great. Liberating.

And yet…

As I look at these beautiful boots I also realize that while they are now perfectly serviceable again, I still would not bring them into the house. And I also wouldn’t describe them as pristine. I can see smears of mud and they definitely aren’t gleaming the way they were when I first brought them from the store. I also see some dirt still wedged in between the cracks of the soles. To restore them I need to get out a knife and a cloth and some polish. And maybe even replace the laces (maybe with something colorful) that I now see are a little frayed.

Recognizing that my own inner state probably reflects that of my boots, what’s the emotional and mental equivalent of what I need to do for myself in preparation for my next journey. Wherever that may be. What are my metaphorical invitations to care and nurture, to rebuild and maintain that will mean that as I set out on my next adventure I have footwear that will be up for the challenge – because at the end of the day I love challenges?!

And what works for you?

P.S. And yes I did get a few blisters on that last trip, but as with all good adventures each one tells a story and was totally worth it for the adventure!