I LOVE to ski—for years now, it’s been a passion of mine. I love it for all the things you’re probably imagining: the beauty of nature, the peacefulness of fresh fallen snow that sparkles, the adventure.
I also love it for what it taught me about business and life.
I learned how to ski when I was a teenager and lived in Illinois—where most of the mountains are manmade, and the Black Diamonds are like little anthills. So when I moved to Virginia, I encountered real mountains, and they scared me!
Because I was under the spell of Perfect Portia—an inner villain who insisted I always look good at whatever I was doing, no matter what!—I skied only the mountains where I thought I could get from top to bottom while looking perfect (or at least, really good).
For years, I justified this by telling myself that I didn’t want to fall and break a leg. But the truth was that I didn’t want to fall and look bad.
After my first husband and I got divorced (we did a lot of skiing together), I stopped skiing for years. When I eventually started again, I noticed the same pattern: I’d only ski where I thought I looked good.
As a result, I was missing three-quarters of the mountains.
I’d travel to places of incredible beauty like the Rocky Mountains and the Canadian Rockies. And I’d hear other people talking about the amazing adventures they had on these bigger mountains, the beauty they immersed in, and the wildlife they saw (like moose and foxes!).
I was missing out on SO much … because I was playing it safe.
Then, on one particular trip to Banff, Canada, I heard some guys talking about the runs they’d had that day and how beautiful it was up there, and I thought, “I can’t miss this any more. I’ve got to figure out how to get there.”
The key here: my desire became greater than my fear.
These guys weren’t experts, but they were great skiers. They could ski any part of any mountain, enjoy the experience, see the beauty, and have the adventure (with no fear of how they looked).
So that was it! I made a decision then and there: wherever they went, I was going, too.
Now let me tell you … when we got to the top of the first mountain, I thought, “OMG. What have I done?”
I was terrified. But there I was, looking down, and I knew there was only one way off that mountain: to ski, no matter how imperfect I might look.
And that’s when I had an epiphany.
I realized that if I followed the tracks these guys had already laid down, and did what they did, then I’d be okay.
And it worked! Even though I was scared to death, and my skiing did NOT look pretty or perfect (truth: I’m sure I was anything but graceful!), I made it down that mountain.
I got to have that adventure I wanted.
Yes, I got stuck on my way down. I even needed help to get unstuck and keep moving forward! But I saw the trees and the mountains and the wildlife. I experienced more in that single day than I had in all the 20 years before that combined.
And it was the best ski day of my life!
I felt accomplished. And I learned that I AM capable—even more so when I have guidance.
So I started taking lessons at every level of ability, to continue sharpening my skills and keep improving as a skier. Now, I know, with confidence, that I can go to any part of the mountain and get down it. It may not be perfect, but the imperfections allow me to have continuous adventures!
I wanted to share this story with you today because it highlights two things I consider crucial to your business success:
Emulate before you innovate.
Find a training program that paves the way for your success. Find a community to support you and help you and guide you when you get stuck. Then, learn in motion, just like I did.
Be sure to seek continuous guidance.
When you do, you’ll find that you have the opportunity to enjoy the adventure that running a business can absolutely be!