I was lucky enough to ski again this weekend. And my favorite part of skiing is skiing through glades. (Well, actually, my second favorite. I think my favorite part of skiing will always be taking off my boots at the end of the day.)

We do glade skiing whenever possible – going off the trail into the woods. It may be deep powder; there may be semi-carved paths. But basically, in many ways, you’re on your own. You’re ducking branches and trying to avoid trees. You’re cutting sharp turns in tight spaces. You can’t see the end of your path – you just know that if you’re going downhill you going in at least somewhat the right direction.

And, of course, I found lessons for leadership in my glade skiing, because I’m not a great skier and I haven’t been doing it for very long.

  • Taking risks is scary – I can’t say that I’m not nervous as I stand next to my son, staring down into the woods, wondering why I’m about to do this. I look at the trail we’re on and it’s so simple to ski, and I look to the glades and not so much. It’s scary.
  • But taking risks is worth it – it’s exhilarating to make your way through the trees, carving new paths, laughing at your challenges.
  • It’s okay to fail – my first times in the glades were laughable. I was on my butt more often than I was upright. And falling in deep powder is funny, and difficult to get back up. My first runs in the glades today were not pretty either. Especially each time I flew out of the glades onto the trail…and face planted in the snow. But at least I tried it and enjoyed it.
  • It’s okay to celebrate successes – I nailed my last run down the glades today. As I flew out of the glades to the trail below and stuck my landing, I shouted with glee…and then noticed the people skiing by me, laughing at me. I didn’t care. I nailed it.
  • Be present – at one moment, while I was glade skiing, I heard the mindfulness app reminder on my phone go off. I smiled. I couldn’t be more in the moment than trying to glide through the trees, manage the moguls, duck the branches, and find the trail.
  • Know when to take a break – at the end of the day, my legs were rubber. I couldn’t have skied another glade if I tried, and I was smart enough not to try. I’m going to eat a good dinner, relax and enjoy my family, and give myself a break…and try again tomorrow.
  • Acknowledge your accomplishments – I used to hate skiing, and then I only skied for my husband and because it’s a great family day. But I kept going. Now I not only enjoy it – usually – but I also am proud of how I am willing to take risks, fall on my face, whoop it up as I stick a landing or glide through the trees, and enjoy the beauty around me. I am proud of my willingness to try nearly any run my son suggests, and to also say no to a black diamond when my legs can’t handle it.

Being out in the beautiful mountains, racing down a mountain is a gift, and it’s also a chance to, of course, practice your leadership.

What “non-leadership” activity offers you leadership lessons?
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For support in leading (and not skiing), contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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