Six years ago, I had my first ski lesson and I quickly realized that this winter activity was filled with leadership lessons. As a novice skier, each time I am on the hill or mountain, there is always something new to learn.
When our family started skiing and snowboarding, I would stand at the base of the mountain, look up at the large mountain and be filled with awe and inspiration. The chairlift has become a visual metaphor for me regarding our leadership journey and how we move up the mountain and in our organizations.
When I first learned how to ski, I was introduced to the conveyor lift. This is a conveyor that takes you up to the top of the beginner hill. You simply move yourself to the front of the conveyor, put one ski slightly ahead of the other, and the conveyor gently takes you up the hill. Because this is where most individuals learn to ski, the slope is flat and gently allows gravity to help move you down the mountain. It reminds me of when we first enter our professional careers and need to learn the basics of our roles and organizations.
Next is the beginner lift. Many times, it is a wooden bench with a metal bar that you pull over your head and gives you security. This lift is slower, and I appreciated the pace. It allows me to slow down and just enjoy the beauty in front of me. As the chairlift moves up the mountain, I have the opportunity to look around at the activity below me. This lift takes me to the next level on the mountain. The ski run is longer than the beginner hill and provides opportunity to build confidence and comfort. In our careers, we need to take the time to build confidence in our own abilities and leadership skills. Many times, we try to shorten our time in roles that seem to be at a beginner level. Instead, we should be spending more time trying to really understand the role and our responsibilities before moving to the next level. Why not take another ride and spend more time near the beginner lift?
Now, the newest and fastest chairlifts take us to a whole new level and new parts of the mountain. There tends to be more individuals around these chairlifts. These chairlifts are a bit more luxurious and have various amenities and security features. This is a fast chairlift, and you move quickly to the top of the mountain. Just like our careers, sometimes we find ourselves on the fastest chairlift and in a new role. We find ourselves with many options of how to get down the mountain. The challenge is finding the best run that fits our skill level. Here is where a mentor, coach, or ski instructor can be helpful. They can ski besides you, providing insights and new tools, to help you be successful. This lift can provide many different options for our careers.
The conveyor, beginner, and high-speed lifts take us to a new elevation, a new part of the mountain, or a new leadership role. When it comes to your leadership journey, which chairlift are you riding?
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