Snow. You either love it or hate it. I’m one of those lovers of snow; luckily, I live where we get a lot of it (Leavenworth, WA). Last winter, we got 25+ feet of snow; this season, we’re already over 14 feet with a couple of months left to pile up.
Last year was an adventure and comedy of errors because we moved into our home right as the biggest storm of the last two decades showed up in our area. We were snowed in (couldn’t see out our windows kind of snowed in). Power went out because of the storm, and no cell reception. Goldfish crackers and fruit snacks as our food, and an air mattress was our only furniture item. We weren’t prepared for that storm, but we victoriously made it through the winter and welcomed the beautiful summer while planning how to conquer the next winter.
This winter, we were all prepared with backup power options, extra snow-plowing tools, and other random snow management items. We felt ready to go. Then, MORE snow came - and earlier than expected. We thought, really? We tackled the snow as it came feeling good about all of our preparedness. The snow didn’t relent. Then, freezing rain came on top of it, adding several inches of solid ice on top of the snow. The walkways we dug out kept piling up. Our days were a continuous digging cycle, so we could just walk out our door.
One day, as I dug out our path again, I thought about how this cycle can be something we, as leaders, experience. We plan, learn from the past, and then new challenges charge at us. Here are some of my musings on what I reflected on from snow…
1. Sometimes, we have to do repetitive things to keep moving.
Most leaders are visionary folks who like to dream big, nail down strategies, and empower amazing people to make things happen. But, sometimes, there are just some things that a leader has to do to keep things moving.
I had to keep digging snow out of the walkway to our house so we could get in and out. If we let that build up too much, it would be impossible to work through.
Are there things you must continuously keep on top of so it doesn’t pile up and overwhelm you?
Managing your email in a rhythm (those inboxes pile up!)?
A people pulse check - are you caring for your team and ensuring you know what they are going through?
A YOU pulse check - are you making sure to dig yourself out of the crazy so you can have some reflection time?
What are those things for you? They may seem repetitive and may not feel like they need to be a priority, but if they pile up, it could be a building problem down the road. Are you maintaining the repetitive?
2. Doing something again doesn't mean we failed the first time or our time wasn't well spent.
The first thought I had, with that same path I had to dig out continually, was that we had failed in our preparations. It’s frustrating for anyone to have to do the same thing over and over again. You feel like it’s a waste of time. But, in reality, it was a necessity.
Someone once said, “dwell in the positivity of life's inconveniences.” Our brains learn when we do things repetitively (even if inconvenient!). If we embrace it, we might even find some creativity and innovation in the learning cycle. We might find ways to do it differently next time. We might discover an insight we hadn’t seen before. The important part is that we look at repetition as a learning experience instead of the frustration of doing it again.
3. It's easy to get stuck in our igloo and forget about the big picture.
With piles and piles of snow around, it often feels like it will never go away. But, it will. The sun will come out and melt it away eventually. In the meantime, I'll miss a lot if I’m so focused on the snow around me and forget about the big picture.
⇒ The overall strength of our house and how well it's keeping us warm and safe from the piles of snow.
⇒ The tools I have to keep us moving and eat more than those goldfish crackers and fruit snacks this year.
⇒ The wonderful neighbors who are there to help us out. And what about ways I could help them out?
⇒ The incredible beauty around me - God's artistry is truly amazing.
It’s easy to be focused on the tasks at hand. Working in the business, taking one project to the next step. Are we taking a step back to look at the business and identify ways to work on it? Do we see the successes? Are we celebrating with our team? Are we championing our team members? Are we identifying strategic moves for the future? If we focus too much on the snow around us, we might forget to fly above and see the big picture.
Just a few thoughts from a snow-living human. If you’d like some ideas for how to fly up and help you work on your business instead of always being in it, check out our On vs. In eBook.
February 16, 2023