A story from my trek in the Himalaya’s…Who has more on their backs, the Porters or us?

In Blackbelt in Business by Chris BerlowLeave a Comment

Recently I came back from an epic trek to the high mountains of the Himalaya’s and climbed to Everest Base Camp and Mt. Kalapathar in Nepal. It was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. The trek was magnificent, challenging, exhilarating, tiring, beautiful, tough, enlightening, and of course, fun. We trekked in the Himalaya’s for ten days spending nights at rustic heatless tea houses and days trekking at high altitude. We were integrated into the Nepalese mountain life and Sherpa culture for the duration of the trek.

There are no cars in the mountains of Nepal. All material and supplies are transported in by one of three methods. First is helicopter which is extremely expensive to get materials in the mountains. Second is by mule, joe, or yak. We all know what mules are. A joe is a cross breed between a yak and a cow. A yak is a very big buffalo looking animal with huge horns and a massive body that treks through any terrain at very high altitudes. A very impressive species to say the least. The third and most popular method of getting materials to the mountain villages are individuals known as Porters.

During the trek, the trails were filled with hikers, yaks, guides and a ton of porters. I witnessed the Nepalese porters taking an excess of 80 pounds on their back and carrying the load over ten miles at a time. Neema was the name of the porter that carried my brother John’s and my trekking bags. He would take my brothers duffle and stuff it in my duffle, add on another 30 pound duffle and then put his own duffle on top of it. He would then proceed to carry the 80+ pound load for over ten miles through the mountains and into the valleys to the next destination. The porters would take a rope and tie the duffels together connected with a head strap so the weight of the load was on his head and back. This was done with the Porters carrying trekking teams duffle bags as well as many porters carrying supplies to the villages. We witnessed porters carrying up multiple cases of soda, gallons of water, items that I cannot conceive of ever having to carry, and yet they do. I saw a contraption for a porter to carry large rocks on their back using the same method. I witnessed a very petite thirteen year old girl carrying a bag of rocks up from the river to make some additional money to put food on the table for her family. This of course was after going to school all day. How would that fly in America? Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

While trekking in Nepal and seeing the hard work the porters were doing. It got me thinking on how we in the United States should work a little bit harder. Then I reflected on my own life for a bit. I do work really hard. Maybe I don’t carry 100 pounds on my back but I certainly have a lot of pressure. I realized that we are no different. Actually, many of us are Porters and we don’t even know it. The only difference is the weight on their shoulders and backs are tangible, and the weight on our shoulders are in-tangible. At least I know I am a Porter in America.

Think about it. I have a nice house and a mortgage that has to be paid every month. Car payments and car insurance that comes with having five children with everyone of age to drive. I have multiple businesses where bills need to be paid, payroll needs to be covered and operations have to be done. I have commercial real estate and real estate investments where again, mortgages have to be met, tenets have to be happy and services have to be rendered to keep up the properties. I have family that I love to be with that are spread all over the North East and friends I want to spend time with. The hardest part is having the ability to manage the moving parts my life and still find time to do the things that fulfill me as a person. The burdens of modern day American life are real and substantial and weigh down people to the point that it becomes crippling.

So I ask again, who has more weight on their shoulders? The Nepalese porters or the American porters. To be honest, I believe we in the United States have a lot more weight on our shoulders than the 100 pounds that the Porters of Nepal carry.

Here’s the difference have the weight on our shoulders to sustain a lifestyle that we choose. We take on more so we could be, do or have more. In Nepal, they put the weight on their shoulders to survive and take care of their families and loved ones. The only difference from a Nepalese Porter and an American Porter is that in Nepal, the weight is tangible where in America, the weight is intangible and encompasses all of the responsibilities and pressures we have.

We ask, how in the world could they carry all that weight? At the same time, they may ask the same question regarding us in America. It is an interesting way to look at our lives in America and the mountain life of Nepal.

Does this resonate with you at all?
What could you do to lighten your Porter Load?

Here are five things I realized on the mountain while thinking about how I could personally lighten my own load.  Hopefully for you as well

1. Choose experiences over things

This brings me to one of my favorite Master Yoda quotes, “Train yourself to let go of anything your fear to lose”.
The Porter carries the load to the destination and that is the end of the job. They care for it along the way and promise to deliver it in excellent condition, yet they are not emotionally attached to the load. We carry this extra load because of the attachments we have to the things and lifestyle we have in our lives. If you could stop being emotionally attached to material things and become more in-tune with relationships and experiences, you could lighten your porter load right there.

2. Have a solid exit strategy

The Porters have the strategy of dropping off the load at the end of the journey. They know that each step they take, no matter how slow, is progress toward the goal If you have an exit strategy or a retirement plan, than you could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is those who do not see the bigger picture that could be seriously weighted down by the pressure.

3. Take breaks

When the Porter is carrying a load up the mountain, there are numerous Porter Stops along the way. The Porters drop their load to rest up to continue the journey forward. There trek is definitely not a sprint, actually, it is probably harder than a marathon. We have to take breaks along the way as well. We need to take rejuvenation breaks to recharge out batteries and be more productive at whatever we are doing. This could be enjoying some entertainment, a workout, a vacation or whatever you need to do for rejuvenation.

4. Seek help

When the Porter is humping up a load up the mountain, they have no problem asking for help. I have witnessed porters helping each other picking up the load because it is so heavy. If your pressures is too heavy to bear, don’t be afraid to ask for a professional for assistance in helping you handle the weight on your shoulders.

 5. ABM: Always be moving

Some Porters have ridiculously heavy loads that they have to carry up 2000 feet over a ten mile distance in one day. Something we in America would dread. One thing you will notice is that they are always moving. They more slowly and methodically and realize that every step is one step closer to completion. I witnessed a woman who must have been 80 years old carrying a load up a mountain my 21 year old extremely muscular son would have a challenge with. The porters always keep moving in the direction they need regardless of the size of the hill in front of them.

We are truly blessed to live the lives that we live in the United States as well as many countries in the world. We have unlimited resources at our disposal and it is very easy to become comfortable. It is also very easy to accumulate debt and pressures and load an enormous amount of weight on your back. In America, the number one killer is stress and I guarantee it is not from carrying an 80 pound load up a mountain for ten miles.

Do you want to lighten your porter load?
How much weight do you have on your shoulders?
Do you have pressures that you need to get off your back?


If you do, than I urge you to consider the Life Alignment Bootcamp where we are going to create a personalize plan on how to lighten the pressures you have weighing you down. The dates are September 13th-15th at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor, NY.  During the three days, you will be in the perfect environment that is conducive for growth you are looking for. You will…

• Learn about meditation and mindful living
• Create a legacy that people want to follow
• Gain the stamina to grow your business and career
• Develop the “Master” mindset and be masterful at all you do
• Restore balance and harmony between your personal and professional life
• Establish an energizing routine that keeps you focused and in the zone all day long
• Generate a deeper understanding of why your health is #1 priority

Registration will be opening at the end of the May so keep your eyes and ears open for more info! Check out Empowered Mastery facebook and Linkedin pages for the latest!

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