That phrase was a favorite expression of my Marine Corps drill instructors. I still think of it often. As leaders, our mindset is critical. Do we have the confidence we need? Can we imagine a way forward? Are our thoughts contributing to resilience or are they preventing our success?
I came face to face with the power of mindset during my recent ski vacation. While heading down the hill with my friends to grab lunch in town, we pulled up at the start of a new trail and noticed a woman about ten yards away who was frozen in her tracks. Other than the lone woman, the rest of the slope was empty. Sensing something was wrong, I skied towards her and told the others I’d catch up with them soon. I slid to a stop beside her and quickly asked if she was all right.
“I’m not.” She replied. “I’ve psyched myself out, and I’m afraid to move.”
I instantly could relate to how she was feeling. It had happened to me before, on a very steep slope in the Canadian Rockies. I told her that I had experienced the same freeze before and shared that I would stay with her and help her get down the mountain. For the next 30 minutes, I relied on the fundamentals of leadership coaching I use to support leaders in getting unstuck.
I helped Beth clarify her vision, articulate her goals, and follow through on them. Slowly she skied wide Z’s, traversing across the mountain. I talked her through her turns and supported her re-emerging confidence. During our descent, she shared how silly she felt, explaining that she was an experienced skier and couldn’t believe what had happened. We chatted about how our thoughts have the power to stop us in our tracks. And, how they also can get us moving again. When Beth made it down the hill, she was elated. We hugged and went our separate ways.
After lunch, I was once again flying down the hill on a nicely groomed, but pretty steep, run. As I gained speed, my eye caught a skier in front of me. It was Beth! I skied up beside her and yelled a hello. We both stopped and high fived. “Did you see that??!!!” she exclaimed. “I was crushing it!!” She was.
“Let’s go!” I said. I was psyched to see her back to herself so quickly and having fun flying down the hill. In fact, she was skiing so fast, I couldn’t keep up with her and waved as she sped ahead.
The entire experience reminded me how important it is for us to be in tune with our mindset, our thoughts, and our vision for our lives. Pandemic living has thrown us all off track at some point. Yet we can process our experiences, be accountable to how we want to change and grow, and set ourselves up to soar once again. I’m privileged to be able to coach talented leaders to higher levels of performance as they move forward. What’s next for you?