If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. ~ Nora Roberts
I live in Mammoth Lakes, a majestic mountain town nestled in the Eastern Sierras. Spring here brings with it some serious powder days, and those most passionate about skiing and boarding will be up early to get in line for that first chairlift, hoping to find deep, untracked powder and to experience the exhilaration of floating through freshly fallen snow. However, an epic powder day can chance quickly when, in the midst of a passionate descent, we fall, and suddenly find ourselves stuck in deep snow, not sure how to get out, overcome with frustration. Play quickly becomes work, and, as with anything outdoors in the mountains, possibly survival. Fun is eclipsed by inconvenient and unexpected challenges, and exhilaration is replaced with struggle. You find yourself floundering around, trying to get unstuck, back on track, so you can continue whooshing and floating down the freshly fallen snow. Powder skiing is not for the faint at heart, and neither is being an entrepreneur or business owner. Both take grit, tenacity and passion.
While I was preparing to lead a workshop on pushing past professional barriers and regaining momentum, I came across an article on the snowboarding website Whitelines by Mike Brindley. The topic was “Getting Up In Powder,” and I found that it had some amazing tips for getting unstuck that were directly related to the trials and tribulations of a business owner. I wanted to share them with you here.
1. “Firstly, don’t panic or get stressed. Keep calm and compose yourself.” The best way to stay calm and combat stress, in business and in life, is to be mindful about cultivating, and focusing, our energy in productive ways, rather than counterproductive ones. That is the key to maintaining mental and physical well-being.
2. “Check yourself.” With snow sports this means making sure you are not injured, and haven’t lost any equipment. In life, it has more to do with mental health, and taking inventory of what has caused you to get off track. It means considering what resources you have, and what you need to do get your mojo back.
3. “Maneuver yourself so you’re facing in the right direction.” In powder that means getting your skis/board underneath you and pointed downhill. Brindley writes, “You may have to roll over onto your front or perform a kind of upside cartwheel. Whatever you need to do, get it done.” Getting unstuck might require creativity, and flexibility. You’ll need a clear sense of where you are going, so you can get reoriented and back on track.
4. “Now comes the tricky part – actually getting back to your feet again.” Powder is soft stuff and when you try to get back up you often sink deeper in the process, and after a few attempts you can become so exhausted that panic sets in. Part of business is taking risks, opening the door to fear and facing what is setting us back. It means trying and failing, and being able to stay calm during that experimental phase. It means not getting disheartened when things go awry.
5. “Instead, you need to make sure you get up in one fluid motion.” This, to me, speaks to the need for strategic planning with any size business, a process by which you assess the role of an organization in the context of its environment and create a framework that determines the organization’s direction and mission and keeps decision-making on track. Transforming your vision into a reality requires focusing your energy on developing a business plan, aligning your strategy with your mission and developing the goals to make it happen. When you get stuck, revisit the goals and objectives. It takes one fluid motion to get unstuck, with every muscle working toward the same objective.
6. “Getting up in powder takes fluidity of movement, momentum and determination. Good core muscles don’t hurt either.” Taking time to plan and think creates a firm foundation for action, much like the preparations needed to get out of the deep in powder. In both instances, hastily moving into action can cause further collapse. When you are seeking a way out of deep snow, progress is your best friend. All that matters is that you get unstuck and get moving again. Having courage, determination, and drive can get you out of the quagmire and create the momentum you need to move ahead.
7. Ask for help. This was not included in the article, but I would be remiss not to mention it. There is saying there are no friends on a powder day (for no one expects to wait for their friends when the conditions are so perfect, because first tracks are a sacred thing) but truth be told that friend could save your life. Having the support of a friend and being able to ask for help can keep you from falling deeper into the muck. Do you have an A-team or advisory board you can discuss your current status predicament with and from whom you can gather insight and advice? People you can turn to who will give a constructive and objective review of where you are at? Having a business coach can help during those times when it feels too difficult to try to and go it alone, when you feel ineffective or depleted from frustrating failed efforts to get unstuck. Sometimes you can become so disoriented that you need someone else to help point your skis downhill.
The fact is, we all get stuck from time to time, no matter how expert of a skier or boarder we are, and the same goes for any successful entrepreneur and business owner. At the end of the day, it is not the fact of having been stuck that matters. What is important is what we do to get unstuck.
Get unstuck and get the momentum going again with Dr. Arianne Weiner, coming soon to The Fort Downtown, Mammoth Mountain’s creative coworking space for an Après Ski welcoming enthusiastic entrepreneurs, business owners and snow-lovers ready to dig out of the deep and float onto the powder.