Day 12: What Can We Learn From Slowing Down?
Welcome to Day 12 of 21 Days on the Mountain. Today we are on the final stretch of a 14km ski run on the Grand Massif, a run that I’ve done many times.
One thing it’s taught me is that it’s not all about the speed and the destination. It’s about the journey too. Taking time to pause, think and check in. What direction am I going in? Am I on the right path? Am I taking the opportunity to slow down, stop and enjoy the view from time to time?
An important element of our Evolving Leadership programme and one of the four pillars of Mindful Command, is Clear Purpose. To know where we are going, what direction we are travelling in, and to see clearly through our own inner interference.
To lead others, we first have to understand how we lead ourselves. And we can’t do that if we are only looking at our end goal or objective, ignoring the journey along the way.
So join me for today’s video as we contemplate slowing down and considering our sense of direction, rather than just focusing on our destination.
Hello and thank you for joining me for this 12th day of our 21 Days On The Mountain. A chance for us to create space, take a breath, and practise the power of pause. So today I’m within the last kilometre of a 14 kilometre run that begins at the highest point in our ski area, the Grand Massif, and finishes in our village. So for any of you who ski or snowboard, it’s a fantastic home run. We’ve done it many times.
But what I notice when people are doing it for the first time is the question that they always ask is: How long does it take? Never once in the last seven years that we’ve been here has anyone asked ‘where are the nice places to stop, on the 14 kilometre run?’. That might, if you stop and think about it, might be a reasonable question. But it’s never one that I’ve heard.
And I find also that when we go skiing and it comes to the end of the day, and we’re sitting in a chair lift.. we’ve decided not to do this home run, and we’re sitting in a chair lift taking us back to the gondola that brings us down the mountain.. often what I’ll hear people talking about is their top speed. How much distance they did, and looking at the whole ratio of speed – distance over time – as a measurement of the success of the day.
Now I’m not knocking that – it’s a fair enough measurement. It’s one we all learnt at school probably, and it is a way perhaps of assessing in some way the value of the day. It’s just that I never hear people talking about where they stopped. What view they most liked. It’s never about that. So on this ski run, this 14 kilometre ski run, what we do is we give ourselves about an hour, so that we can pause whenever we feel like it, and just admire that space, that place, that view.
The other thing that’s interesting about the run is that it’s not all downhill. There are periods where it’s flat, and there are even spots where you have to go up a bit. And what you might then do is try and build up some speed, so that when you get to the bit where you have to go up, you can glide up it. And on those days where the wind is against you and you can’t glide up? Well I have to be honest, there are moments when I find myself saying ‘ah, you know, it’s hard work against the wind walking up that bit of the slope’, For sure. But what I try to do is take it in my stride. Make it part of the journey. Notice that I’m annoyed by it, and laugh at myself. Because if I stay annoyed with it then I’m probably going to spoil the next part of that run. I might miss the next beautiful view because I’m still annoyed about having to walk up the slope back there.
So this ski run is kind of a teacher. Over the years it’s taught me to appreciate it, by slowing down. It’s taught me that it’s not about the speed, or the destination. It is about the journey. And when I take that metaphor if you like into my everyday life, and as a coach I’m often working with people to help them reach some objective or other, what I notice is that when I become too objective focused, or too goal focused, or too destination driven, that I lose an awful lot about what’s happening in the getting there. In the journey to that point.
So these days what I prefer to think about is a sense of direction. What direction am I going in? And what am I gonna enjoy, or discover, or sense, or feel, or see, or smell, am I going to notice, as I’m getting there. And maybe something that I notice along that journey, going in that direction, might show me, if I listen carefully enough, or look closely enough, that this may not be the direction I need to be in at all.
So at this time of.. where we feel as if the direction has been written for us, where we feel as if our life is constrained by something beyond our control, I ask you to consider, are you going to allow that to drive the way you respond to it? Are you going to allow that to become the most important thing? Are you going to feel the loss of control that it could make you feel? Or are you going to allow this thing that’s beyond your control, to be a voyage of discovery of another kind?
So in our two-minute silence today, perhaps you might choose to consider, to contemplate that question. Or not, that is your choice. What matters is that you take a couple of minutes now, that we take it together, to pause, to notice, and to be in this moment. So remembering our three steps; pausing, focusing into this space, and breathing consciously. Bringing our awareness to our breath, following its path in and out of our body. And noticing what happens when we do this. Noticing every second of this next two minutes, as you concentrate on being present, right here, right now, with your breath.
Going to close my eyes as I always do, feel free to close yours or whatever works for you. So bringing my awareness into this space, between my sternum and my navel, I follow my breath. Breathing in, I know that in this moment I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that in this moment I am breathing out. And right now, that’s all that matters. Let’s begin our two minutes silence together.
And when you’re ready, on your next breath, gently open your eyes.
So I was noticing, as I paused there, the sound of the waterfall. There are two waterfalls either side of this piste, and actually this piste is called the Piste des Cascade or in English, the Waterfall Run. That’s where it gets its name from. And behind me, the village of Sixt, you can see almost in its entirety, with its several hamlets. And right at the back there, to my mind the most majestic mountain of this area, the Tenneverge, which is a little further along from the mountain that you contemplated yesterday.
So thank you for joining me today. Have a wonderful day, and think about, as best you can, being present as often as you can, as many moments as you can during this day. Thank you.