Upside Down or Right Side Up?


Photo by: Steven Guzzardi


Upside Down or Right-side Up?

The older I get the more I’m discovering that life is ripe with the counterintuitive. I’ve shared before that I LOVE (some might call it an addiction…but I’m still in denial…) to snow ski. One of the things that I find cool about snow skiing is that, even at my age, I can still keep making progress.

This ski season’s revelation is how much skiing is about following the counterintuitive. When I get literally out over my skis the tendency is to sit back. Any ski instructor will tell you that you can’t sit back; you have to stay out of the back seat! And this is counterintuitive. Skiers often think that sitting back increases control, but in reality leaning forward not only gives a skier more control; it helps make for a better ski experience. I can improve if I remember to, and then practice, leaning forward. Similarly, there is a thing around speed that is counterintuitive. My natural reaction is to slow down to regain control. And that is true up to a point. BUT, if I go too slow, turns become hard work and my skis don’t do what they are designed to do. So, speed can be my friend. And what inner little boy doesn’t want, like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, to go FAST???

If you’re not a skier, not only have you probably quit reading by now, but you may be wondering what this has got to do with anything. Well, hang in there…

For an entrepreneur,

stepping back is counterintuitive.

Staying in the game, maintaining control seems the “right” thing to do. After all, the entrepreneur started the business, knows it best and is the library of knowledge when it comes to his or her business. Here’s the deal: for the business to go forward to the next leg of the race, particularly to the next generation, the entrepreneur (the person who is often the founder) must act in a counterintuitive way. To go forward, she must step back. Here the key question for the entrepreneur becomes:

Am I willing to let go to let others go?

Here’s another thing that is counterintuitive, and while it is particularly true in family businesses, I believe it’s true in all of life’s relationships.

Trust is counterintuitive.

Human beings are hard-wired for survival; to hold on to control. We seek to survive and protect. We build walls to achieve that protection. In a sense we are “infected” with this protection/survival/defensive “virus.” Trust, albeit counterintuitive, is the “anti-venom” to that by which we’ve all been “bitten.” Trust is about humility, or as one client recently said, about making myself small.

There are certain openings,

literally and figuratively,

that I can only fit through

by making myself small.

What is the alternative to NOT practicing the counterintuitive? What might we miss out on? I venture to say we miss out on achieving our potential. We miss out on “life at its best.” We miss out on true flourishing.

We might think that practicing the counterintuitive turns our world upside down.

I like to think it turns life right-side up!


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