Dangerously cautious

Image: Johannes Waibel

We’ve had quite the winter here in the greater Sierra Nevada region. I’ve had to walk across many a parking lot covered in packed down snow and ice early in the morning, so I’ve had my ice-walking practice.

I’ve learned one thing in particular from the slippery conditions — commitment. If you walk with any hesitation, you will fall.

I started off the winter walking on my heels. Cautious. Dangerously cautious, in fact, and I slipped. A lot.

Next, I learned from a friend that I should walk like a penguin with my weight over my front foot. This helped. I didn’t slip any more, and I got to my destination a bit faster.

Finally, I started doing an ice-skating motion on the ice. I have relatively flat-soled shoes with not much grip. So, instead of fighting it, I used these bad boys to my advantage and started consciously skating across the ice. Now, I was moving along with perfect balance at a pace even faster than I could walk.

Being too cautious can be the most dangerous thing. Sometimes, you just gotta lean into it and commit.

Same thing with snowboarding. Although I’m not really a snowboarder these days, several years ago, I tried it. I remember the first day or two trying to ‘survive’ down the hill. I was on a really easy hill. As soon as I got going too fast, I’d lean back on my heel edge and put the brakes on. Again, the more cautious I was, the more I fell.

It was during the next day up that I decided to go for it. My wife (who’s an incredible snowboarder) suggested I needed more momentum. Up to the blue run we went. With a steeper mountain, and the intention to let momentum take me down the hill, I actually did pretty well. Sure, I fell a few times, and when I was going, I felt right on the edge of control, but it was way better. I could even make a few turns. I think if I would have kept it up, I would have been a pretty decent snowboarder by now.

This goes with a lot of things. Holding back and being cautious locks us up and prohibits our movement. When you lean into your edge and move with it, you allow natural forces to take over. Muscles and synapses start firing we never even knew were there.

Test those edges. Hesitancy prohibits movement.

Feel it out and get after it. Not just in the snow and ice, but in the boardroom, bedroom, and everywhere in between.

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