Yeah, sure, I’ve been snowmobiling. But, this past weekend, I had the privilege of really snowmobiling for hours in powder-filled bowls surround by gorgeous scenery and dear friends! Many of us, quite novice, got initial tips from our fearless leader like “when turning, lean, not with your shoulders, but shift your entire weight,” and “stay 100 feet from the sled in front of you.” Shane’s final words were, “Notice I am wearing a red helmet, so you know who I am.” That was the last time I saw anything but a plume of glistening snow wafting behind him– until we got stuck 20 miles later.
Shane grew up riding a snowmobile. He was so confident, that speeds of 70MPH and tricks up hills with 60% grades were child’s play. My husband and I rode tandem and switched off driving though out the day. I had the most fun when Ian was driving over jumps and plunging into valleys. I couldn’t help squealing with glee as icy snowflakes splashed in my face. While hanging on very tightly and watching the snow-frosted trees zip by, (believe it or not) the following leadership concepts came to mind:
- Repeat Important Lessons: Three times, I heard a sled wiz by and Shane’s faint reminder, “When turning, lean, not with your shoulders, but shift your entire weight!” Finally, I started to exaggerate a shift of my weight at each curve by lifting completely off the seat (balancing on one leg and clinging to the side of the seat with the other). Later, my husband admitted how much easier it was to avoid cliffs and trees when I was following Shane’s instruction. Yes, I heard it three times, but I finally got it (and apparently it was important)!
- Expect More: As the leader of our new and informal team, Shane was unaware of our limits and perceived limits. For example, starting the snowmobile included a significant tug on the pull cord. Most of my friends were able to sit comfortably and tug the pull cord with one arm. Frankly, while standing, I still had to pull with all of my weight and strength two or three times to get the engine started. When others might have stepped in to start the sled for me, Shane waited patiently during each of my attempts! He expected me to be successful and for the sake of safety, I needed to prove I could be successful.
- Allow Mistakes: At about 11,500 feet above sea level, Ian and I did get stuck in the deep, deep power. Dislodging a 500-pound sled is not easy, especially at that altitude! While sinking into the snow way past our knees and gasping for air, Shane helped us dig out the skis of our sled and reorient them (mostly) downhill. Once onboard, and this time with me at the helm, we had all our weight to one side. I was leaning so far to the right, that I steadied myself by using the handle on top of the steering mechanism. At full throttle, the sled leaped out of the pit of snow. I was very proud of my skillful maneuver until I accidentally hit the kill switch! With a good laugh, our leader said, “That happens to everybody!” I, again, tugged a few times on the pull cord and we were off for more adventure.
By the end of the ride, we could almost keep up with the guy in the red helmet. My husband and I were like a synchronized bobsled team simultaneously shifting our weight as we sped through a glorious winter wonderland– each anticipating the next turn, constantly calculating speed, grade, and threat of the next obstacle. We learned to lean completely into turns, take on the confidence our trusted guide offered, and laugh at our mistakes. Now, that’s snowmobiling!
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|ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman, an Executive Business Consultant with Leading Synergies, helps high-performing executives refine strategy, inspire teams, and delight clients (specializing in information technology, project management, consulting, and franchise management). She also leads Synergy Groups, weekly 55-minute virtual business mastermind calls for REALLY BUSY Christians in leadership. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.|