5 Lessons Learned Walking The Camino

Susan S Freeman Blog
Camino lessonsBy guest blogger: Linda Cattelan MBA CPCC

As we enter the busiest time of the year, I am sharing highlights of a guest column written by my cherished colleague Linda Cattelan, Owner of Results Catalyst in Toronto.   She recently challenged herself to walk the legendary Camino Real.


“I’m not sure why I felt so compelled to walk the Camino de Santiago. It just felt like something I would really enjoy doing and could also benefit from. My natural tendency is to be in a state of “doing” rather than “being.” Walking “the Camino” is all about the state of “being.

I learned many lessons while walking, many of which are applicable to career and in life. Here are 5 of them:

  1. Keep it simple and be prepared. It seems inevitable and yet how many times have you left things to the last minute, not leaving enough time to be fully prepared only to scramble needlessly? Because I was travelling with only a backpack and a carryon, I had to be very selective. Keeping it simple and being prepared made it easier to focus on my daily walk.
  2. You almost always have what you need most. I quickly realized that I was carrying too much in my daypack and that purging was needed. I carefully considered what I absolutely needed. Did I need the whole first aid kit or just a bandage or two? Every day I became more discriminating about what to wear and what to carry. It’s amazing how little we need when we become more discerning and clear on the difference between necessary and nice to have. How many “things” are you holding onto that you really don’t need?
  3. Stay in the moment. For most of my life, I have been conditioned to be in a state of “doing”. In my corporate career, I was rewarded for planning and taking action, doing stuff, accomplishing things.  Even in my personal life, my “to do” list is a mile long and my sense of worth was and still is tied to how much stuff I get done in a day. So staying in the moment and just enjoying what I was observing, hearing and feeling was foreign to me. But when you are walking for 4-6 hours a day, sometimes on your own with no one to talk to, it becomes much easier to stay in the present moment. To take in all that you are seeing, to notice much more than you otherwise would, to hear the birds, the rustle of leaves, the babbling river, the feeling of your feet on the stones beneath you… Staying in the moment gave me great clarity and was extremely grounding and centering.
  4. Change your perspective. Along the path, the view changes frequently. Sometimes you walk along the highway and it requires you to be more vigilant, sometimes you find yourself in the forest smelling eucalyptus. One minute you are looking uphill and wondering how you will ever make it up that hill and half an hour later you are looking downhill into a valley appreciating how much easier it was then you had ever imagined. The changing perspective allows you to appreciate where you’ve come from and where you may be headed– without expectation or attachment.
  5. Camino lessonsEmbrace opportunities. There are so many opportunities you don’t even need to look for them; they magically appear in your path. Like the medieval festival in Ponferrada the first night we were there – what a wonderful way to spend our first day in Spain assimilating to the Spanish culture. Or that amazing massage therapist/reflexologist that happened to reside next door to where I was staying on the day my feet needed it most. The opportunities are everywhere, you simply need to notice them, and then embrace them.

Walking over 200 km of “the Camino” reminded me of the simplicity of life and just how much we strive to make it much more complex than it needs to be. Since being back from my Camino walk, I have vowed to keep things simple, stay more present, and eliminate daily clutter and complexity from my mind and my life. I have everything I need to embrace the opportunities coming my way and to adjust my perspective as the view changes.”


What’s your Camino Real walk like?  I invite you to post your comments here.

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