Four rules for skiing the trees:

1 Take the straps off your wrists; 2 Ski no faster than you are willing to hit a tree; 3 Look at the space between the trees and not the trees – you’ll ski where you look; 4 Wear a helmet.

In Alaska, we added a fifth rule; “wear an avalanche beacon”.

Twice in twenty-four hours, these rules popped front of mind. Napping yesterday, I answered a call from a colleague. She stressed over confused instructions and overwhelming options. I coached: look at the spaces between the obstacles. You’ll hit every tree you look at. Sadly, I failed. In the figurative way, she shook off her poles then planted her ass in the snow.

Oops. Some of that is my fault.

On the phone today, I listened to her frustrations. I felt mine well up. I took my student too high, too far, and too steep. Students fail to comprehend that skiing the flat is just the same as skiing steeper stuff. Sadly, our brains get in the way. I now must step back, work with greater focus on the gentler slopes. Listening and sharing responsibility I acknowledged the issues. I also saw the work I delegated away roll back towards me.

So many tasks this week returned incomplete. I stand at the bottom of a hill tossing things away, only to find them at my feet. They hit the slope then rolled slowly back.

Picking up the debris (and the work), I point a finger at futility.

Now, an email arrives from a friend offering a bit of work. My first response emphasizes the impossibility, the difficulties, and the obstacles. I, too, am about to sit in the snow to have a good-ole hiss. One, then two email, I write back: “Look at you — finding the space between the obstacles.” Inspired – finally – I recognize my own lesson.

Changed my day: focus what is possible, avoid the now-known hazards. When about to plant your ass in the snow, everything becomes impossible. Look at the space between the trees, pull the straps off your wrist, cinch down the helmet, and go for a ride. Bounce, bang and bump, at least the hole in the snow won’t be shaped like salad bowl.