This morning I was with my husband on our Sunday bike ride up Mountain Charlie, near where I live. Mountain Charlie is a particularly special hill, as it has the perfect ratio of uphill to flat, so that just when you think you can’t make it any further, it gives you a thirty second rest to catch your breath. I personally love climbing hills, and as we were riding side-by-side, my husband told me about when he was trying to qualify for Ironman. He was training up in the mountains and when he would look up to the top, he could see people riding and they were so small they looked like ants.

From that perspective, he thought he would never make it all the way up. What he did to keep himself going was he reminded himself that he could keep pedaling, right now, focusing on the ground in front of him. He knew he could do that. And what he learned was that little by little, one pedal at a time, he consistently made it to the top.

In my coaching work, I find that in communication, people get out ahead of themselves, essentially looking up at the top of the mountain, and think they need to figure the whole thing out before they communicate. The truth is if we just pay attention to what we are aware of in this moment, then the next piece of information will be revealed, and ultimately the resolution will become clear.

Awareness unfolds one layer at a time, rather than all at once.  We don’t get down to the full truth of an issue until we’ve gone through the layers.

Imagine a cafeteria where the trays are spring loaded and as you remove the top one, the next one pops to the surface. Remember that it doesn’t work to dig down and try to get to the seventh tray. Instead, you lift off the first tray, then the second, until eventually you get down the that seventh. This is also how effective communication works. You start by simply saying the first tray, or the first thing that you are aware of. Once you reveal the first tray, what’s underneath that pops to the surface, and then what’s under that and so forth until you reach the bottom.

The next time you are triggered in a situation, begin with saying what you notice and go from there and eventually you will make it up the mountain!