Owner's Corner: 1st Quarter 2020
The following is an excerpt from our quarterly newsletter. It is an anecdotal tale from our own Trish Wall, simply recounting her vacation, but leaves us all with a lesson about understanding and triumphing over our human nature. Fear and the unknown.
Without further ado, a journal entry by Trish:
Here I sit. 2pm on New Year’s Eve with 10 more hours left in 2019. My mind has been reeling the last few days reflecting on what defined us in 2009 and what defines us now turning over into a new decade. Perhaps most of you won’t set eyes on this stream of my consciousness until well into the start of the New Year, but if you don’t mind my rumination, I’d love to share my “ah-ha” moment that is setting the tone for our second decade as entrepreneurs, leaders, and, most importantly, parents. I hope you get a little something out of it, and if not, at least you can come away with a new word of the day… rumination (www.dictionary.com never fails me).
"If you don’t step out of your comfort zone and face your fears, the number of situations that make you uncomfortable will keep growing."
When you start to think back through the defining moments, heartbreaks, and triumphs you have lived the last ten years, it starts to feel a little heavy. Ten years can seem like such a vast expanse of time, yet fly by faster than Usain Bolt in the 100M dash. The natural human instinct is to want to look back only to see how far you’ve come. It’s in our DNA to evolve after all. Survival of the fittest means constantly striving to create a better version of ourselves. But, are we? How can 10 years; 3,650 days; and countless moments pass us by and we haven’t become the person we want to be? Maybe you’ve made strides towards it, but what’s the secret to getting to the finish line? I’m not claiming to have THE answer, but my family vacation this week sure got me thinking.
We decided to spend our Christmas a little differently this year. We skipped the big presents, hosting of the families, fancy dinner that took me all day to cook, and endless cleaning. Instead, we headed north to Vermont to try our hand at skiing. Just the 5 of us for a few days of family, fun, and relaxation. Have we ever skied? No. Not really. Jim had taken our 3 boys for an afternoon a few years ago, and me, well I took a ski class in college. Yes, ski class is a legit thing! I got an A, thank you very much, however, that was 18 years ago. And it was on a “mountain” with a 500 foot vertical drop. According to my fuzzy memory that seemed pretty high. But, then we rolled into Stowe, VT and my palms started getting sweaty.
Day one we dropped the kids off at ski school, awkwardly locked our skis into our boots, and headed blindly up the lift to the top of Mt. Mansfield (which I later learned is the highest mountain in Vermont, 3rd highest in New England... just for a little perspective). We were above the clouds. We were above the ever… loving… clouds. Let me just review. I learned to ski in college on Tussey Mountain, a 500 foot vertical drop. I now stood, two decades later, at the top of Mt. Mansfield, a 2,360 foot vertical drop, with only one way down. And all I could think was, “Jim did it to me again” (and maybe a few other select words sprinkled in there).
It’s what drew me to him at the start of our relationship. I had grown up very “stay in your lane”; adventure was something I saw in the movies; my risks were always heavily calculated; and the most dangerous thing I’d ever done was riding my bike to Dairy Queen without my mom knowing. Don’t judge. My mom could make Dirty Harry shake in his boots.
Jim was the complete opposite. He was 27 when we met and he had already had more adventures than I could hope to have in a lifetime. And his visions for his future were filled with challenges and opportunities that would never have crossed my mind in a million years. “Stay in your lane”, remember? He’s pushed me past my comfort zone more times than I can count. I truly give him credit for giving me the drive and confidence to jump into uncomfortable situations and find my way out. And I have grown exponentially because of it.
So let me bring you back to the top of Mt. Mansfield. Jim had done it to me again. He put me somewhere I was completely uncomfortable, forced me to jump in, figure it out, and hopefully have some fun along the way. And I did it. Twice. It wasn’t pretty and I won’t be considered for the Olympic Ski Team anytime soon, but I conquered my sweaty palms, frayed nerves, and Mt. Mansfield on skis.
I wouldn’t say this “being comfortable being uncomfortable” is a personality trait Jim learned. It’s ingrained in his DNA. It’s who he is without thinking twice about it. But, I’d say for most of us out there, that is an anomaly. Who would want to live in a constant state of discomfort? Sounds like a prescription for Xanax to me.
All kidding aside though, my “ah-ha” moment was looking over the crest of that daunting mountain, the 3,578th time Jim had pushed me to sink or swim. If we are looking for a life of comfort, we might very well miss the opportunities to become who we want to be. We will wake up on New Year’s Eve 2029… another decade passing us by… and have nothing to show for it. Don’t get caught in the trap of “staying in your lane”. Do what scares you. Find someone that pushes you. Move the things that make you uncomfortable to the top of your to-do list. I promise you, one day they will become second nature and you will probably wonder why on Earth you found them so scary in the first place? And then, most importantly, make sure to fill that list back up with more things that scare you. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Ready or not… ski down that mountain!
Team Wall is running into 2020 with this mentality and I hope you all will too. There are big things to conquer out there. Godspeed and go forth and conquer, my friends!
Trish and Jim Wall
P.S. We are challenging our team members to submit 3 things that make them uncomfortable. In 4th quarter 2020, we will pass them out again to our team and see how far they’ve come in conquering their fears. Please feel free to participate! I’ll keep it confidential, but hopefully be someone to keep you accountable.