Tackling Problems Straight On

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After a busy (not exactly stress-free) week working on my business, I decided it was the perfect day to finally go cross-country skiing at Rocky Lane. These trails have been praised by many of my friends, so yesterday, I packed up my skis and my snowshoes (in case the trails weren’t in good shape) and drove the 50 km to check them out. Ski Trail Sign

I was not disappointed! The trails are beautiful, and I couldn’t have asked for a better day. The sun was shining, with just a few cirrus clouds in the sky, so it wasn’t cold out. We’d had some snow this week, and the trails had been groomed within the last 2 days or so, so it was great!

Up until now, I’ve always been a classical skier; I have long skis, and boots that are probably 15 years old. I seek out nice, parallel tracks to put my skis in and then off I go! Shoop shoop! Straight as can be, and please, let’s keep the hills to a minimum! That’s what I’ve been doing until yesterday, when one of the trail’s founders taught me how to skate-ski.

Ski Trail surrounded by tall treesI’ve seen skate-skiers and wondered how they do it. They must have specially-developed leg muscles, or some other super-human traits, because no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t do it. I could barely even attempt it, it just looked so foreign. Then a few times I tried it, and it did not go well at all! (For a laugh, watch the first few minutes of this YouTube video.)

I could have used this inability to put myself down, saying I wasn’t a real skier, or I wasn’t athletic. I did this a little at one point in my life. It turns out, I just had the wrong skis and boots! Yesterday, my instructor, Mike, put me in some real skate-ski boots, nice short skis with a good, sharp edge, and then gave me the longest poles I’ve ever seen. And I could skate! He taught me how, gave me lots of great tips and encouragement, and in a few minutes, I was doing it. Not terribly co-ordinatedly — if anyone was watching, they probably giggled, and so did I. But I was doing it, and he kept saying how well I was doing, too. So all this time, I had the potential to do it, I just didn’t know it. Hmmm, I wonder what else I have the potential to do and just don’t know it?!?

There’s one other thought that’s come out of this. Isn’t it funny how we often tackle problems in our lives the same way? We just line up our skis and take them straight on, like a hill. Hills, even small ones, are killers for classical skiers (or maybe it’s just me… :). You just can’t do them if they get too steep. But give a hill — any sort of hill — to a skate skier and he’ll laugh at it and just charge on up! But a skate-skier doesn’t keep his skis straight. It seems counter-intuitive, but the sideways angle makes all the difference. I always thought that it looked like a roundabout way to ski — more effort than was needed — a lot of sideways to make forward progress. But it’s not that way at all! The sideways angle makes it easy to do hills and once you get the hang of it, it’s no harder than the shoop-shoop straight way. But that’s exactly what we need in our lives sometimes — to look at a problem from the side, to try a new angle, or to make several small movements instead of one, straight-on attack. Attacks don’t usually work anyway! But when you have the skills and abilities to do it, you can just go up and over that hill, with some energy expenditure, for sure, but without using all your reserves.

And that my friends, is what I have been doing with getting my business started (if you don’t know, it’s Flow North Paddling Company). I was tackling problems straight on ad not making the best progress, but now I am working smarter, getting help, trying different angles, and I know I’ll have some energy reserves left over when I get over these startup challenges. Like getting insurance; my initial plan failed, but my new angle is working much better. The next hurdle: becoming incorporated. >gasp< I’ll let you know how this goes!

The Ponton River, awaiting spring thaw...

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