What to learn about mindset on the Camino de Santiago — A personal founder story
During the easter holidays I went on a very special adventure: Walking the Camino de Santiago with my parents. Sounds like an interesting constellation – and it was. But my parents were the foundation for everything I learned, and sometimes it’s good to get back into that initial vibe.
Over the past few years, I’ve taken hundreds of coaching lessons and always thought I was well prepared for my journey. But honestly, I was surprised how much more I learned in those days — about myself, the power of attitude and what we are capable of achieving. There are quite a few connections between pilgrimage and entrepreneurship !
When we landed in Galicia, the goal was clear: Walking 150 kilometers in five days. Some may wonder why I would put myself through such a challenge? For me, physical challenges always cleared my mind, so it was a great opportunity to build mental strength. Others easily assume that the job of a founder/CEO is all about glamour and fame, entering stages and winning prices. But in reality, it takes a lot of mental fortitude to succeed.
Pushing past physical limits can be a good balance to this, as it can translate into increased mental toughness. It’s a way of proving to yourself that you are capable of achieving far more than you ever thought possible. On the other hand I think it is really interesting to see things from a different perspective. For hundreds of years people took the way to Santiago de Compostela to find their values and strengthen their creed. I was curious of the spirit millions of people experienced so far.
I would like to share some of the lessons I learned on the way and how we can adopt this in our daily live:
1. Focusing on your goal makes you overcome hard times
Every morning we woke up with a different kind of pain or hurting body part — but the goal for the day was set. We had no idea about the way itself or what to expect, but nobody was doubting if we are going to do it. You stop thinking about why/if or why/if not — it is more about the how. The journey can be full of unexpected challenges, and the body may react differently to varying circumstances, leading to many highs and lows. Despite this, setting a goal can increase one’s determination to reach the destination.It does not matter if you need half an hour or three turns more to get there. What matters is if you arrive.
Entrepreneurs, too, often face obstacles and setbacks along their path to success. However, you need to maintain a clear vision of your goal and be persistent in working towards to achieve it in the end.
2. You can carry much more than you think.
During the whole journey I was impressed by my dad. He managed to walk the entire 150 kilometers despite having two knee prostheses. Some years ago he was not even able to walk a couple hundred meters, and now we were on that journey together. My body was also reacting immediately –fever, for example. Nevertheless, we as a group wanted to complete the journey to Santiago De Compostela together — and we did it. In some moments it was clear to me: it is more work of my brain than my body.
Starting new things can require a leap of faith and even a willingness to endure difficulties — but you need to get going if you want to achieve your goals. Believe in yourself and push through challenges to accomplish great things in all aspects of life!
3. We need a lot less than we believe.
Going on a pilgrimage means traveling light, which implies minimal baggage. So I went for only one backpack, which I had to carry the whole journey. Funny enough, I received so many messages regarding beautiful photos and outfits. The key? Pre-organization and good planning. It’s not the quantity but the efficiency that matters most!
This rule also applies to business: You do not need 100 people in your team or 5,000 assets to achieve something — you only need the right ones.
4. Together, we are so much stronger.
Another interesting point: At the beginning of our journey, it was only the three of us in the group. However, during the time on the road, we happened to meet the same people over and over again. Over time, we even began to foster a strong sense of camaraderie, and motivated and encouraged each other. Of course everybody has someone from “outside” pushing them everyday — thanks for that! But it was even better to experience that group dynamic.
Success is not always determined by the setting or circumstances (such as working remotely or not), but rather by the shared sense of purpose and unity that drives individuals to thrive.
This was one of the reasons why I went on the trip with my parents, too. They have been closely involved in every season of my life. However, as an adult, mother myself and founder of a startup, it can be challenging to maintain that close connection and remain present in each other’s lives. That is why we are spending some quality time especially when new milestones appear. I remember when I decided to study in Taiwan: My parents immediately booked flights, because they did not want to miss the chance to get to know this important time of my life journey. We just continued this path.
5. Reaching your goal makes you appreciate hard times — because you made it.
Finally, after five long days, we reached our ultimate goal, Santiago de Compostella. In front of the cathedral, numerous pilgrims sat for hours, trying to comprehend and process the magnitude of what they had accomplished in the previous days.
This is something we often neglect to do in our daily lives: celebrating milestones, acknowledging our achievements, and celebrating ourselves. Instead, we move from one goal to the next, constantly chasing the next accomplishment.
This scene reminded me of the importance of cherishing and celebrating each step and goal along the way. When was the last time you did that?
Are you ready to challenge yourself?
My final recommendation: If you think about something, DO IT!
This journey was a time for me to completely clear my mind.
A clear mindset is the foundation for being passionate. It’s the basis for doing what you do with enthusiasm and completely standing behind it.
Whether you choose to walk the Camino de Santiago or take on another challenge, it’s always worth going the extra mile — especially when you think you can’t go any further.