“Outsource everything but your soul!” is a quote from Tom Peters. It’s an idea echoed by Tim Ferris in “The 4-Hour Workweek”.
What they mean is… identify ALL “non-core” work tasks and pay other people to do them. The truth is, most entrepreneurs spend vast amounts of time trying to do everything. I’ve been guilty of this.
As the business grows, you soon become overwhelmed by details…. and lose sight of the big picture.. the truly vital things that make your business special and great.
Well, the Shikoku88 pilgrimage is providing great discipline in this regard. I must now prepare to be away from a computer.. and all contact with my company.. for 45 days (or more). That means the company must keep running smoothly completely without me… for 45 days.
And that means that I must get honest about what tasks I really need to do personally. In fact, when I’m clear-minded about it, I realize that virtually all of the day to day tasks of the business can (and should) be done by others. And the core tasks of the business (recording lessons and newsletters) can be done ahead of time… and then scheduled for release at the appropriate time.. automatically.
We pay a terrible price for trying to be in control of everything. But if we just let go… we can create the life of our dreams.. a life in which we work only on what inspires us most… and we do that work when, where, and how we choose.
So that’s my new goal for the business during the next few months– outsource all of the tasks I don’t personally need to do! That means finding and training people to do all of the day to day operating tasks. And it also means freeing me from all of the maintenance business tasks to focus exclusively on the creative and leadership projects I love most.
To put this in non-business terms… you’ve got to let that which does not matter truly slide (Fight Club).
What distracting and dissipating details do you obsess over in your own life? What do you really hate doing? Do YOU really need to do those things?
And what core projects should you be working on instead? What are the projects that would truly change your life? Are you squandering your time and energy on trivia… while neglecting big life-changing actions?
Be honest 😉
One important element of my Shikoku 88 hike is the element of planning. Obviously, I am doing some planning. I have planned my physical training and planned what I’m going to take.
But equally important is what I’m NOT planning. As this is a pilgrimage route, I think it fitting that I not plan too much of the trip… and be open to what Hakim Bey calls “sacred drift”. Sacred drift is the idea of being open to, and flowing with, whatever comes.
And so, I will not be planning where I will sleep each night. I know that there are various kinds of accommodation along the route: temple accommodation, ryokan (traditional Japanese inns), hotels, and campgrounds. There are also shelter huts for pilgrims.. and the woods and fields. I’m taking a tarp and sleeping bag. I’ll take things as they come.
To obtain the deeper benefits of travel, it’s important to exercise a degree of faith. Too many people over-plan their trips. They know exactly where they will stay every single night. They know the bus and train schedules. They know the exact route, the exact sites they will see. This kind of obsessive planning is a form of fear.. fear of the unknown, fear of being out of control. How can you learn or grow much when you are trying to rigidly control everything?
The magic of travel usually happens when plans fall apart… or are abandoned. That’s when you discover unknown magical places. That’s when you meet wonderful new people. That’s when you are challenged… and rise to the challenge.
These days, I rarely bring a guidebook when traveling. I might scan one BEFORE the trip… but don’t usually take it along. I prefer to let things unfold… to practice sacred drift.
When you do that, you build your faith. You begin to rely not on outside resources,… but on your own resourcefulness. And you begin to realize that, in fact, the world generally is NOT a hostile place. In fact, most people are nice. Neither nature, nor animals, nor most people are out to get you. And when you do encounter the occasional con-man or bastard… you handle it… and gain more faith in yourself.
The media is turning so many of us into fearful boring little cowards… afraid to encounter the unknown, the uncomfortable, or the uncertain. The only cure for that is to turn off the TV… and get out there!
“Failure of nerve is really failure to trust yourself” –Alan Watts
I’m a strong advocate of ultra-light backpacking. So I’m trying to keep my pack as light as possible for the 20 mile days I’ll be doing in Shikoku.
Here is my probable equipment list:
Shoes: Mizuno Elixer4 Running Shoes (Roomy toe box, very light, quick drying)
Golite Jam Backpack (very light)
Ultralight Backpacking Tarp
Backpacking Down Sleeping Bag
Z-Rest Camping Pad (cut to 3/4 length)
Golite ChromeDome Umbrella (very light, sun/rain protection)
Storm Rain Jacket (from Golite)
“Down” Windproof Jacket (super light but very warm)
Nylon Hiking Pants
(2) Nylon Shirts
(2) Spandex/Compression Shorts (underwear for hiking)
(3) Sox (nylon and/or poly/wool blends)
Capilene Top (light and warm)
Simple 1st Aid Kit
Journal & pens
Waterproof Stow Sacks
(1) Golite Aluminum Pole and (1) Wooden Walking Stick: for pitching tarp
Toothbrush, small soap, small camp towel, glasses
And that’s it! In list form, it still looks like a lot. The walking stick, of course, isn’t really necessary…. but apparently it’s a traditional part of the Shikoku 88 Temple pilgrimage… And knowing how the Japanese love tradition, I thought I’d join in and do it right. I’ll also be wearing white shirts, and maybe a white vest over everything… again this is a tradition of the pilgrimage. Originally, white signified the pilgrims readiness for death… as centuries ago, this was quite a dangerous trip and many pilgrims died. It’s pretty safe now 😉 But the tradition continues as a symbol of dedication and pure intention.
I have started training for the Shikoku 88 Temples trip. And I have also rescheduled it for October, to give myself more training time… and better weather in Japan!
My training is very simple: this week I am walking 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. Each week, I will increase the walks by .5 hours…. working my way up to 7 hour a day walks in mid-September. I’ll then do a 2 week “taper”… where I drastically cut the mileage prior to the actual trip. I’m training with the mindset of doing an average of 20 miles a day during the actual pilgrimage hike.
So far, it’s going very well. On Saturday I walked for 3.5 hours around San Francisco. Yesterday (Sunday) I walked 2.5 hours. And today I walked 2 hours. The great news… my legs got a bit tired at the end of the walk on Saturday… but otherwise I’ve felt fine. In fact, I’ve felt mentally and physically invigorated. I’m reminded what a cure-all outdoor activity is for me. The worst possible thing for me, mentally and physically, is to be stuck inside for hours and hours every day… sitting on my butt.
In addition to the above, I’m also doing a “300” workout 2-3 times a week. This consists of Turkish Get-ups, Floor Wipers, Push ups, Modified Pull-ups, Jump Squats, and Dumbbell Clean & Presses. This helps to strengthen my core and major muscles.
However, the walks are obviously the main part of the training. And I’m already experiencing the benefits of this “slow burn” activity. “Slow Burn” is a term used by Stu Mittleman to describe the highly energizing effects of slow aerobic activity… which activates the body’s fat burning systems and produces incredible levels of sustained energy and endurance. A key benefit of this kind of activity is that rather than tiring you, it tends to energize you.
And I’m definitely feeling energized. Because I’m only operating in my body’s “slow burn” fat-burning range, my body is not becoming acidic… thus no sore muscles and no exhaustion. [Fast/Intense exercise burns sugar.. which creates acid… and thus soreness and fatigue]. Check out Stu’s book “Slow Burn” to learn more about this.
Now that I’ve got my training plan in place, my next focus is on equipment. I’ll be going as light as possible…..
As I prepare for my backpacking trip to Japan, I am reminded that backpacking is an absolutely incredible activity for training yourself to simplify, simplify, simplify….
The beauty of backpacking is that you must CARRY your material possessions. This imposes a wonderful and natural discipline. When you have to carry everything, suddenly you evaluate your possessions (your “gear”) in a much different way. Unnecessary items are ruthlessly discarded.
When you do a lot of long, multi-day backpacking trips, you find that this mindset begins to creep into your everyday thinking. You see gadgets and “doodads” in a very different light. Many “essentials” of modern life become unessential.
I suppose this is similar to the mindset that Thoreau adopted when he went into the woods to live simply in a small hut of his own making. He found that he could live very well with much less than he had ever imagined possible. He found what the essentials of life were (for him) and what was extraneous.
And he found something even more important. He found that by focusing on the essentials only, his life became more free. His mind was no longer cluttered with a thousand and one trivialities… and he didn’t spend his hours doing boring work to pay for trivial and unessential possessions. Freed of the need to work so much, he had plenty of time to think deeply about his own life, and life in general.
Thoreau believed that all men and women could live like this… and spend the bulk of their hours developing their intellectual, physical and philosophical life. He understood that simplicity was an elegant and powerful solution to the many ills that modern life produces.
And while mentally it’s more difficult to do this today,… practically and physically it’s much much easier. It is quite possible, in fact, to live comfortably and happily out of a 15 pound backpack. (You could take this even further by learning to grow or gather/hunt your own food).
When you engage in this kind of activity…. you soon find that many of the worries and desires that seemed so important quickly slip away. As Thoreau described… life becomes a “past-time” to enjoy, not work. Everything becomes easier. A great weight lifts.
And so, I highly recommend (lightweight) backpacking as both an excellent recreation of it’s own… and as a wonderful means of life training.
Next Adventure: Hiking the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan.
This is a 1000+ year old pilgrimage route… a circuit of 88 temples around the (huge) island of Shikoku. The hike takes 40 – 50 days on foot.
I suddenly got the inspiration for this trip a week ago. I was sitting in a coffee shop, bemoaning the fact that I have been spending so many hours sitting on my ass in front of a computer (or in a coffee shop). And then I started to remember all the big, challenging, outdoor adventures I had dreamed of… such as:
through-hiking the Appalachian Trail
recreating Che’s Motorcycle Diaries trip in South America
hiking in the Himalayas
and.. the Shikoku 88 Temple trip.
I decided to do the Shikoku trip first, because it’s much easier to train for than the Appalachian Trail. Because of this, I can do it soon. Tentatively, I’m planning to do it in August. I’m already working out…. and have just started doing long walks every other day in San Francisco. I’ll build up to doing ~20 miles per walk.
I’m also re-reading Ray Jardine’s book “Trail Life”… which is sort of the bible of lightweight backpacking. It’s also got great information that would benefit people who are living in cars… or anyone who wants to drastically simplify.
I’ll post more updates on my preparations.. and the aftermath of the hike here on Hobopoet.