While I love teaching students working on their marketing degrees, I have to admit that I do look forward to Spring Break because it usually means a chance to get in some snow skiing. I've gotta be honest, downhill skiing is one of my favorite activities. And, there is a limited window of time when you can easily do it. Plus, skiing at spring break gives me a chance to reflect how what's happening in my classes and rethink how I want to finish out the semester.

Now, I've been skiing for quite a while...let's just say more than 20 years. And, I've been using the same skis since before Dick's bought Galyan's (which was some time in 2004). I know this because my right ski still has a Galyan's label on it. But, when it comes to skiing my motto has been "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

But still, even a loyalist like me sometimes lets their eyes be distracted by a bright new shiny toy - you got it, the latest rocker skis. So today, I demo'd a pair. And, they were really playful. A few runs hitting some moguls and I was feeling very comfortable and confident. So, we decided to head into the bowls. Now, those of you not familiar with bowls might not realize that these are considered "extreme" trails. Actually, trails is an overstatement as they are more typically just snow-covered ground through the woods on steep faces of the mountains. You make your own trail, being as aggressive as you dare. The Last Steep at Crested Butte

So, we hit The North Face and Hawk's Nest. At this point, we could have taken the "easier way" to the "Paradise Lift". But, we felt good and decided to take the risk of doing even harder slopes. Then, we hit the Sock-It-To-Me Ridge followed by The Last Steep. As we were making our way down what was clearly the steepest slope of the day, I started to go across some rocks and in seeking a way to avoid them lost my confidence and my edge and started sliding right down the mountain sideways. Then, my first ski flew off. I figured that wasn't good and really jammed my remaining ski in to try and stop. Instead, I had too much momentum and rolled head over heels. I figured this was not good, but as they say, "a rolling stone gathers no moss." Neither did I.

Lest you worry, the story ends well. I eventually stopped sliding downhill and was completely uninjured. The picture at the right gives you sense of how steep the mountain was. And, I only started sliding about 2/3 of the way down which although hidden behind the trees was actually the steepest part. As I picked myself up and tried to find my 2 skis and 2 poles, I started reflecting on how I had survived. Then, it hit me that it was much like the last corporate reorg that I survived. So, here are my rules of survival:

  1. Protect your head. In skiing, this means wearing a helmet (which I did). In a corporate life, this means finding some powerful mentors to shield you. Of course, it helps to have these folks in place before the reorg starts
  2. Tuck your head in. In either situation, having your head or neck sticking out is probably too risky right now
  3. Bring your arms and legs in as close to your body as possible. Your goal is to avoid peripheral damage. Same as #2 above in terms of the payoff for taking a risk
  4. Be calm because this too will pass. Don't panic and start acting crazy. Take deep breaths. Find your "happy" place...
  5. When it's all over, breathe a sigh of relief and thank god you were lucky this time.

I am not suggesting that knowledge, experience, and capabilities have nothing to do with survival. Quite the opposite. Being knowledgeable and increasing knowledge through education definitely help. I've been scuba trained and have done rescue first aid training several times. Experience gained through hard work help ensure you are doing the right things most of the time. And, both of these traits will help others want to support you. Still, I do believe that every now and then we all need a little luck. And boy did I feel lucky today!

One final thought - always remember your support team too. While I was busy shaking all the snow off and checking to make sure I was intact, my constant support team known as my husband was at the ready to jump in and help out when he could. This time, it was just to help recover skis and poles. But boy was I thankful he was there.

Today, trying something new was a calculated risk. While that risk had a few questionable moments, in the end it paid off: I found a new pair of skis that help me perform better than before, I had an awesome day, and I had an adventure worth sharing with others. What's your next calculated risk?

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