Thought Leadership

Take a Hike: Thinking Your Way to Success

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When I get out of my car in front of my office every morning, this is what I see: To the right of that snow-capped peak, there’s a canyon that snakes up between the two mountains. This time of year the creek on the canyon floor surges with extra force because of the melting snow.

I enjoy hiking. I also run a business.

Someone like me might look at that scene every morning and think, “Wow, that’s so great. I wish I could go hiking up there today, but I have so much work to do.”

At least that’s how I used to think: never enough hours in the day, and to get ahead I had to sacrifice “indulgences” like hiking.

But now I think differently. I’ve learned that spending time away from screens, when my mind is free to explore the depths of whatever is going on in my life, is among the most valuable time I have.

I come back from hikes with:

  • New ideas for blog posts.
  • Novel recommendations for clients.
  • The name of someone I haven’t talked to in years who is now the perfect person to help me solve the new problem I’m facing.

Hiking isn’t an indulgence for me — it’s a key part of my work week. So when I looked up at that scene when I got out of my car this morning, I thought, “Wow, that’s so great. I will be up there from 4–6 p.m. today because I have some serious work to do.”

It’s crucial for you to divorce your professional identity from the act of being “busy” as you think the world defines it. You don’t contribute your highest value as a PR pro by being in your email inbox all day.

Your best contribution comes by solving big problems in systematic ways. And that doesn’t happen without deep, creative thinking.

Obviously I’m not saying every PR pro can take up hiking. Instead, give yourself a “change of scenery” of any kind and take the time to think.

You can free your mind just by booking a conference room and whiteboarding the various possible angles for the pitch you’re working on … by yourself.

Or blocking out an hour on your schedule — no meetings, no calls — to ponder and brainstorm ideas for your next outreach campaign.

Your takeaway from this message is to tap into your real power by spending more time THINKING, not by continuing to take as much time REACTING to other people all day.

Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch”.


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Michael Smart

1 Comment

  • I love this post, actually. I agree that you do think your way through success through what you love doing. This article mentions that they come back from hiking with new ideas. I think this is because when we do what we love to do, we feel at ease and we take out minds to other places and imagine other things, making ideas come to us through a unique and mindful thought process. Taking more time to thinks is becoming a new way of meditation, which is also becoming so popular lately due to the fact that it makes you so much more mindful and grounded .I can relate to this post, I used to be obsessed with sunning and I found that when I needed to think things through, I would take a run. The brain is an amazing tool of the body and it is important to push our thoughts out of our comfort zones.

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