Peace is defined as “freedom from disturbance; tranquility.”

I decided at the end of 2022, when I always set my intentions for the upcoming year, that my word for the year was going to be peace.  I’m not sure where it came from, it just came to me one day and I liked the idea of spending more time in peace this year.  Likely, because of a personal leadership journey, 2022 had been the hardest year of my career with some tough lessons in loyalty, clarity, ambiguity, and fear.  So it was no wonder that peace was what I was after – tranquility, calmness, and less hustle and fear.

It was intentional that I booked my journey up Mt. Kilimanjaro for January.  I wanted to start 2023 with a bang and I also thought that the mountain was a perfect place for me to find the peace that I could bring back with me into the rest of the year.  A place to get away from the fast pace of the world I was living in and find calm in nature far away from the news cycles and the stressors of daily life.

My first journal entry on the mountain started as a list of what I was looking for on the 7-day journey.  Here’s the exact unedited list from my journal.

What I am searching for on this journey:

  • Peace
  • Clarity
  • Confidence
  • Myself

That last one hit me pretty hard when I re-read my journals a few weeks after returning.  I was searching for myself.  What I believe I meant is I was searching for the good parts of the person I knew I was.  The part of me that I knew was in there somewhere buried under stress, commitments, fears, and worries about what everyone else needed and what they thought of me.

I went halfway around the world to find something I already had because it had become so lost that I didn’t know how to get it back.  That realization alone was worth the entire trip. Here are a few of the things I learned about peace (and myself) when I was on the mountain.

I learned that you find peace within, not outside.  I thought the mountain was going to help me find peace, but what I realized is that peace and solitude are within you when you create the right environment around you.  The environment just allows you to see something different in yourself, something that was already there but that you had lost or never discovered.

I learned that we need to focus on places that make us feel peaceful.  This could be your meditation space in your home, a quiet place in the woods that you love to walk, or it can be a trip around the world away from the stresses of the day-to-day.

I learned that boundaries create peace.  I was allowing other people and commitments to define my peace and it wasn’t working.  When you create boundaries, you create the space for peace.  You choose peace and you don’t have to go in search of it if you choose it.  It’s there all the time, patiently waiting for you to put your phone down, turn off the TV, or log off of social media.

I now see peace as this great friend I get to visit daily.  It’s still a work in progress, but I intentionally try and find peace every day.  It could be my morning workout or meditation, a quick bout of breathwork at the office after hours of meetings, or my nightly routine where I give myself 30 minutes to wind down alone in quiet before bed.

I thought I had to go in search of peace, but I realized I had it the whole time.  I just had to make the choice to spend some time with myself.

This is part 5 of a 10-part “Lessons from the Mountain” series. If you haven’t read the first four parts you can find them here:

Connectors vs. Collectors (Part 1)
Preparation Creates Calm (Part 2)
Intentional vs. Accidental Culture (Part 3)
Design a Life, Don’t Make a Living (Part 4)