Values, Lifestyle and Snakes


What is a value?

Here are dictionary definitions of values for your reference.

  1. The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. “Your support is of great value”
  2. A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life. “They internalize their parents’ rules and values”
synonyms: principles, ethics, moral code, morals, standards, code of behavior “society’s values are passed on to us as children”

Resource for Values Exploration

One good resource for exploring your values is Dr. John Demartini. Here is a link if you wish to pursue it further: Living Life by Your Own Values: Dr. John Demartini.

What is most important to you?

From my perspective values are less intellectualized and more shown in day to day life, lived. Here are some questions to get you thinking about them.

What is most important to you in your life? What do you hold dear? How do you live your life?

I think my most important value that infiltrates my entire life, from taking ski racing training this past winter, to hiking so high last summer I was in tears to learning about how to improve my productivity in all areas of my life is being willing to learn.  There is a saying, Do one thing a day that scares you? I try to live by this although there are relative levels of being scared. What it means to me is to continue to step through or past  one’s boundaries no matter how small it seems. From mild discomfort to sheer terror, these feelings can tell us we’re moving forward and progressing

What do you do with a snake on your path?

I just spent a week in beautiful, warm,  with unseasonably high temperatures, San Diego, California. It was a combination workshop and fun trip, although it was all fun. The workshop brings 2000 people from around the globe to learn about high performance for personal and business growth. There is a range of people from those aspiring toward high performance in their lives and those already in the category wanting to expand further. It’s a high energy, high value and high learning environment. In that setting  high performance is defined as performing above normal standards over a sustained period of time so it can apply to anyone or any endeavor although the focus is on personal and business performance.

The workshop itself is a lively, fun filled environment in which you are taught some principles, you do some reflection and then share it in a small group. There’s lots of moving around to music and generally sharing joy. Where else can you dance with abandonment and  2000 other people to the Black Eyed Peas I Got A Feeling without some eyebrows raised from somewhere. It’s the most fun I’ve had in years. And I learned tons to bring home to my life in Canmore and Calgary.

After the workshop I went on a hike to Cowle’s Mountain, a fairly busy, short hike up a dry, rocky path. One source described it as  a “heart pumping 3 mile vertical climb to the highest point within the city of San Diego. At 1,592 feet, the view from the top of Cowles Mountain makes the climb all the more worth it”.

Though I am a seasoned hiker, I think I left my usual hiker sensibilities in Canada. What I was wearing was not what an experienced hiker would wear on the trail, but there I was anyway in blue jeans and a dark blue, long sleeved shirt on a sunny  +30 degree day on a dry, desert hike. Thankfully I had a hat,  water and snacks. It was wonderful to be out sans winter garb. It definitely got  the heart pumping and I took my time, making it to the top to see the vista. It definitely was worth the effort.

As you know with any hike there are risks. This one included the heat, the path being rubbly due to recent rains washing rocks out of place, the numbers of people some of whom were running and animals. I had not given much thought to the latter until I spoke with a man at the top about the various routes up Cowle’s as I was considering descending by another way. He proceeded to talk about how he walks in the middle of the path and keeps his eyes on the edges where the snakes might be.

SNAKES!!!! Yikes,  I hadn’t really thought about it and said I didn’t want to hear that. I am terrified of snakes. As a kid I have vivid memories of dreams about big fat snakes on my pillow. (What those dreams meant is for another time) Anyways suffice it to say I walked in the middle of the path keeping an eye out for snakes as I descended.

As I was rounding the last turn on the hike, I looked down and there it was, a big fat snake slithering out onto the path. Oh crap! I jumped and ran down the rest of the path. Enroute down I mentioned what I had seen to a couple of people on their way up and they were grateful.  Once I got to the parking lot, I saw a parks official so told her about it. She asked if it was a rattlesnake, to which I replied “I didn’t stick around long enough to see.” What I should have said was “I’m Canadian; I only know the difference between grizzlies and black bears, not snakes for pete’s sake”.

I wasn’t aware of how much it impacted me until later. I noticed that I started to look for snakes everywhere. On the news there were stories of recent incidents with snakes which did not help me to stop obsessing about them. To my credit, some years back I had deliberately addressed my phobia about snakes, even touching a big python at one point. Mostly my strategy is avoidance. However if I am going to hike in the desert where I was, I need to take a different approach. I will do some research prior to my next San Diego trip.

So the point of my story is around how do you face the snakes on your path? Do you do what I do, just jump away and then worry about them popping up everywhere? Do you pause and look to see if there really is danger and/or walk away slowly like the park ranger seemed to think was the way to go? Do you try to learn from it and do something different the next time?

Cowle's Mountain

Cowle’s Mountain

Fixed or Growth Mindset?

How you handle the “snake on your path” can show you how you handle scary situations that we all face every day. Recently I read a really interesting book that speaks to lifestyle, lifelong learning and the scary (or not so scary) challenges in our lives. It is entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, who  is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.

In her book Dweck talks about two core mindsets, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. These mindsets or  beliefs, about one’s own traits that shape how you  approach challenges, The fixed mindset is the belief that your abilities are carved in stone and predetermined at birth. While the growth mindset is the belief that your skills and qualities could be cultivated through effort and perseverance.

Here is a short video that describes methods to implement a growth mindset in your life.

So when there is a  “snake on your path”, do you have a growth or fixed mindset? In my example of dealing with a much feared reptile, I did look up how a hiker should handle such situations. Basically it’s like a bear encounter, you don’t make any sudden movements to cause a defensive reaction and back away slowly, talking calmly and so on. I can actually imagine doing that with bears as I’ve had a lot of education and rehearsal, although I’ve never had to face a bear at a close distance. I cannot imagine it with a snake. I think I need more practice thinking about it.

I also looked up the metaphysical meaning of a snake slithering into your life. One source said the snake’s meaning is a legendary symbol of transformation and rebirth. Well kind of interesting in that the workshop I had attended was life altering. Hmm. Nothing like sheer terror to transform myself!!

I don’t encounter serious snakes for the most part when I’m hiking up here in the Rockies, I probably don’t have to do much more. A growth mindset would suggest that in this example I have the capacity to learn to handle it better, which I believe I will just be what I read. But there’s no substitute for experience and I probably am not going to go visit the snakes at the Calgary Zoo any time soon to desensitize my  phobia and be better prepared should I be doing desert hiking or visiting Australia.

Fixed or growth mindset? We’re usually a combination of both. Think about what your experience is the next time you try to learn something new or a recent experience of learning something new. How you deal with that gives you clues to  your predominant mindset approach.

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