If you live in that part of the country known as ‘The North’ you’ll be familiar with folk from ‘down south’ making jokes about pies, and unemployment, and rain, and how there isn’t a Waitrose for a hundred miles. And generally, a lot of people feeling that proximity to London is something that give them an advantage over us poor folk in the colder regions, where it’s ‘grim’.
Of course, you don’t get many views like this while you’re circumnavigating the M25 at 22 miles an hour, or on your daily 3 hour commute down the M4 corridor.
That’s the view from the top of the Pennines between Cumbria and Northumbria – it is almost literally the ‘top’ of England.
It’s not a bad view. But what you can’t see in that photo is the cafe just behind us – Hartside Top, the highest cafe in the country – where I am reliably informed you can get one of the best cups of tea in the world.
It’s not the quality of the bone china, or the clearness of the Pennine water or the length of time the tea is brewed for that makes it taste so good. No, for many people, what makes the tea from the cafe taste so good is that, it comes at the end of a long, hard, climb, up some of the least forgiving hills in the country.
What makes the tea taste so good is that it has been earned. It is a well deserved cup of tea. it’s a cup of tea that you can enjoy all the more because you know how much work you put in to get to it. Which is the point where I masterfully crowbar in a reference to business blogging and online content.
There are always plenty of shortcuts, and plenty of ways to get to your destination more quickly – and without ending up covered in mud, soaked in rain and dripping in sweat. Heck, we got to that cafe a Renault Megane.
But your online presence isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey, and about the way you choose to get from a to b, and where you decide b is going to be in the first place.
And fantastic as that view in the photograph is, what I saw cannot even come close to the view as experienced by someone who has doggedly pushed their way up those roads, mile after mile, yard after yard.
And as nice as the cup of tea I could buy in that cafe is, it will never taste as fantastic as it does to a cyclist who has poured themselves into a climb of over 1500 ft.
If you’re putting in the work, and putting in the effort, and building your online presence. It doesn’t matter what gear you are in, as long as you are going in the right direction. And you don’t have to wait until you reach your destination before you can enjoy the view. That cafe isn’t the final stopping point for any of the cyclists on that route – many of them have another 10, 20 or 50 miles to go before they call it a day.
But it’s a point where they can pause for reflection, rest, recharge, look at where they’ve come from and say “I did that”.
Achievement isn’t something you can outsource or optimise for, it’s something you have to do for yourself.
P.S. Southerners, I was joking before. It really is grim up north, we all hate it here and it’s miserable – we’re dead envious of you in your commuter towns with your been-through-6-people-before-you-drink-it tap water. You should all definitely stay there, we’ll just suffer up here with as much dignity as we can muster.
Which reminds me, I might take a trip over Snake Pass into the Hope Valley soon (you’d hate it, all that fresh air would just confuse your body).