Recently we’ve had “real” winter here in central Iowa. The season has been mild. A few early snows in October and a short cold snap took us to -10 for a day. Mostly we have enjoyed snow free and mild cold. Today I ventured out into single digit cold and a world layered with snow on top of ice. I am (now) a full fledged Iowa girl. I am also 50 something. The cute short boots go in the purse to be put on when I get where I’m going. I wear insulated Mucks with deep tread and take the time to cover my ears, button up my coat and don gloves.
My mind is drawn to the analogy present in dealing with winter. Metaphors for how to deal with the ice and snow of life. I take time to prepare before venturing out in the cold. We can do the same as we step into the arena of business. Prepare. I recently walked a very competent architect through the idea of creating a pricing sheet he can use when contracting with homeowners. He was frustrated how he shorted himself simply because he lacked confidence to ask for what he was worth. The sheet provided clear terms at an appropriate rate. The paper spoke for him and leveraged the contracts. Now he’s better prepared. All aspects of work take some practice. A few aspects take a lot of practice. When we take the time to prepare we leverage desired outcomes.
Traversing ice covered terrain has its own protocols. I am mindful how the ground feels beneath my boots. Steps are deliberate. Knees kept bent. There is no rushing. The opportunity to slip and fall is everywhere. Across the deck, down steps, building to car, car to building, parking lots, sidewalks. Even places that have been plowed, shoveled and salted are never 100% secure.
When life terrain is suddenly different I believe we have the tendency to want to stay inside. Terrain shifts as emotions boil over and arguments ensue. When a client becomes demanding or clingy. When you discover you missed a large bill and the bank account is overdrawn. So many things can pull us up short. Make us feel like we are on a slippery slope. To hide. To stay inside only exacerbates the problem. At times like these it’s important to stay present (be mindful). Take deliberate steps with care. Keep your knees bent by being flexible and open to your options. And, especially, don’t rush it. On uncertain ground it will be awkward, scary, emotional. Stay the course. You can get through it without falling on your ass.
Out on the road I have two miles of gravel, a county highway, and small town to traverse. All the byways are 50 to 100 percent ice and snow covered, The mix of salt and sand provides traction. It also gathers up into slush that can drag at the tires. Pulling you where you do not intend to go. Automatically I accelerate and decelerate with more caution. Giving myself extended space to speed up and slow down. Because I’m me, I do push to see how fast I can go without testing the fates too much. In town my personal game includes hyper awareness of other vehicles. Rolling through stops and around corners if I can. Once at a complete stop patience is the key. I’ll hold out to have greater distance between myself and the on coming traffic. The correlation between pressing down on the accelerator and forward movement can get iffy on ice.
As an entrepreneur it is essential to stay in motion. There are times when everything is clicking. Your are making connections. People are buying your stuff. Your energy is high and money is flowing in. You are sailing down the highway. There are times when it all turns to ice and snow and there’s slush dragging you off the road. You’ve lost traction. These are the times when we want to pull over to the side. The path is hard. We allow our head talk to convince us slow is unacceptable. “If you can’t fly you shouldn’t be here!” “At this pace you will NEVER make it.” If you stop it takes ten times the energy to get back in motion. What if you allowed yourself more time to get there? What would it look like to do half or a third or a quarter of the business you were doing so you could access the road as you moved along? By taking it slow you can feel your way through and not get thrown into the ditch. When you stay in motion the learning continues. You gain knowledge on how to deal with this stuff (because it will storm again) you’ll build resilience and strength.
The seasons continue to change. The snow and ice will melt. The roads will get clean and dry and swift. Once again we’ll find ourselves running forward, exhilarated on solid ground.
For Your Best Possible Self
Coach Christine Clark