In 2013, I walked 900km (560ml) through Spain, along the Camino to Santiago de Compostela. It is in this city in Spain where the remains of Saint James the Greater were discovered in the year 813. Since then, people have undertaken a pilgrimage to visit the grave of Saint James.
I was fascinated by this ancient route. It had been on my bucket list to walk it for a long time. In April 2013 I travelled to the South of France to start what would become for me, the first of many journeys along the Camino.
I never expected the real impact the Camino would have on my life. I’m fairly down to earth, so I thought to “do” the walk I could simply pick up my life again upon my return. Now, I know that it doesn’t work that way; once you have experienced the Camino it never leaves you! It had so much impact and it also provided me with the many stories and photographs that I use in my work, such as with my Alliance Masterclass and Coaching.
The Camino gave me several personal lessons too. Let me share three of them with you.
Take a Walk!
I experienced that being out and walking on your own allows you to disconnect and create some distance from everyday life. Walking helps you to get into a conversation with yourself. It allows you to reflect on the things that are happening in your life and at work. The long moments of reflection during my Camino taught me a lot about myself. These moments also allowed me to finally say farewell to my mother who passed away a year before.
Before commencing on the Camino I was never much of a walker. Now I am. A walk provides me with excellent moments of reflection. Often I come home after a walk with a solution for a challenge that I could not have seen just from working behind my desk.
The Camino will Provide!
There is a saying amongst the pilgrims who walk to Santiago de Compostela, “The Camino will provide!” And it usually does. Whenever you are in need of directions, food, a bed for the night, or anything else, the Camino will “magically” provide a solution.
I experienced that myself one day after setting off without breakfast when the Camino provided me with a table of food in the middle of nowhere.
This and many similar experiences on the Camino taught me to release my desire to control everything and to trust in things to work out on their own, either as designed or in a good, alternative way.
Many Small Steps Create a Journey!
When I tell people that I walked 900km through Northern Spain, they are often fixated by the total distance. They don’t see themselves walking 900km and I didn’t do it in one stretch either. The journey was divided into 28 intermediate stages and every day I set my goal for that day. That daily goal was quite simple; find a bed for the night in a city approximately 30km further down the road.
Setting goals is an important element to help us to be effective in our daily work. The better you are at cutting your big goal into sizable pieces, the easier it is to accomplish bigger goals and to adjust them along your journey, if required.
You might as well say that walking the Camino has been a life-altering experience for me. What experiences have you had that delivered a changing impact on your life?