Lessons From Today's Blizzard

Today’s weather up in the northeast (US) was far from ideal, at least if you were hoping to go in to work. After three rounds of shoveling, there’s still no end in sight to the white invasion that has made travel and general life activity a challenge. But the good news is that the time outside has given me opportunity to reflect and ponder how snow-related lessons can have a positive impact on us today and well into the (hopefully warmer) future. These are some of the ideas that came to mind:

  1. Be prepared – Nothing spells doom for a day like today than the absence of proper preparation. Knowing that a storm was looming, I made my way out to the shed yesterday to get the snow blower, shovels, etc. We also stocked up on food staples and other necessities. In life we also need to be prepared for what’s to come. Sometimes these challenges are in the “forecast”. Sometimes they arrive will more suddenness. Either way, the better prepared we are, the likelier that we can take life’s challenges in stride.
  2. Plan for the worst but expect the best – One never really knows what weather you’re going to get, which is why the weathermen like to cover themselves with a wide range (say, 12”-24”, for example). While we need to prepare for the worst, we should always expect the best, and plan to maximize our days rather than succumbing to the “what can I possibly get done on such a day?” mindset.
  3. Do it in stages – Many snow blowers, including mine, have limits of how much they can handle at once. When faced with heavy accumulation, it’s wisest to do it in stages so as to not overwhelm your machine or your back. In life, it often pays to approach things incrementally. Whatever needs to be achieved, at home, at work, in relationships, etc. can often best be achieved in small steps. Say, for example, your communication with a particular person is lacking. Begin with small steps, such as a gesture of interest in reconnecting, such as with an email or a note. Once you break the ice, find ways to break down the walls further until you restore a sense of normalcy.
  4. Just need a small path to get through – When making your way through snow, a small path is all that you need to get going. It may not be super comfortable but it gets the job done. When setting out on a task or setting goals in the face of challenge or resistance, work to find paths that are open for you to navigate through. With forward progress, you will pick up speed and discover other, better options as well.
  5. Take the long short way – As I walked outside this morning, I went a bit out of my way to get from the unplowed curb to the plowed street. Though is cost me a few extra seconds here and there, I got the time back and then some by walking in along the plowed areas in the center of the road (there were no cars out at the time). In life, we too need to consider the long short way to meeting our goals. Sure, it can take a few minutes or longer to create a vision, map out our day, set goals, do our research, and the like. But the time invested is well worth it when it saves us in wasted, rudderless efforts or, worse, the need to undo errors that were made along the way.

Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, (@impactfulcoach) became an executive coach and organizational consultant following a career as an educator and school administrator. Get his free leadership e-book, "Core Essentials of Leadership."

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