What are you truly capable of?

On a recent skiing trip I inadvertently ended up on a rather steep red run with my daughter who is six. She has skied many blue runs and nursery slopes but not a red run. For those that don’t ski; a green run is a nursery slope for novices and beginners; a blue run is described as easy; a red run, medium and a black run considered difficult. Now, not only did I end up on a red run (steep) with said six year old but I also didn’t have a piste map. For one whose youth was spent with the Girl Guides where the motto is ‘be prepared’, my predicament was rather less than clever to say the least!

Whilst on the slope, having been somewhat abandoned by my party, I of course had no idea which run I was on, never mind the ability level. So, whilst my daughter was cautiously but ably descending the slope I had noticed that the skiers and boarders that we were accompanied by were undoubtedly experienced – no novices to be seen. Hmm, I thought, that leads me to believe that this is either a red or a black run – which of course would have been no problem other than the fact that my keen and inexperienced daughter was with me. At this point I began to-ing and fro-ing between being cross at my party and thinking how am I going to get my six year old safely down the mountain?

At about this moment of cogitation, the words of Henry Ford passed through my mind, “whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right”.

So, armed with that thought and knowing that my bold little girl was progressing well, procrastination on my part was going to get us nowhere!

As in life, it is often impossible to retrace our steps so going forward is the only option.

At this moment, my daughter shouted out ‘this looks very steep Mummy, I’ve never skied anything like this before.’ To which I responded, ‘it’s okay, it’s just like slope we did this morning with more trees.’ If ever I was to be magically turned into Pinocchio this was it!

About an hour later, we arrived at the bottom of the slope; it was a very long run and steep in places, compounded by a bit of ice. My daughter said ‘Mummy, the snow sounds funny?’, I responded ‘that’s okay, snow sounds like that sometimes’ – cue yet another Pinocchio moment!!

Once safely on the chairlift back up to the top and having orientated myself, I revealed to my daughter that not only had she skied her first red run, she had also negotiated the ice (and a wee moment off-piste but that’s another tale) and we lived to tell the tale over lunch!

Much like the fabulous technology we all use; laptops, pda’s, mobile phones, Bluetooth, wifi, Cloud – the list goes on – we rarely if ever, use their full capability and often as individuals it’s the same scenario.

We do have the resources and ability to achieve and overcome a very great deal, if we put our minds to it.

One of my clients woke up on the morning of a prestigious trade conference where he was to make the opening address – something he felt was a very great honour and privilege not to mention the corporate exposure he would get.

He called me and said’ Morning Kate, I can’t do it!’

‘Can’t do what?’ I asked.

‘The opening address!’

‘Of course you can’.

I then said’ Okay, you have 3 minutes to tell me everything that you ‘can’ do from when you executed that very nice £18m deal for the founder and investors some 8 years ago to today…..


‘No buts’

He proceed to tell me about the promotions, the products he’d launched in the market with no budget, the organisational change programmes, the company he’d engineered the great sale for, having turned it round from loss-making!, his two kids now at university …….. he finished with; I can play the piano ……very well as it happens.

‘Okay’, I said, ‘Fantastic’.

‘So, how about this opening address?’

‘Hmm – well it’s much easier than most of those things I just told you about – I can do it.’

‘Fabulous – best you get going then’ I said. (He did a great opening address, some said it was the best he had ever done.)

Sometimes we have to reframe our thoughts, the inner language that we use to ourselves in order to change our perspective, in turn change our behaviour which ultimately leads us to give that opening address, deal effectively with a team members poor performance, be innovative and creative in this challenging economic climate, ask for that new funding, help a six year old novice skier to get down a red run or whatever it is that is challenging you.

For a moment, think about those people that always appear to have the world on their shoulders, are perhaps depressed or glass half-full, lacking in ‘can –do’ attitude. What do you see? Shoulders hunched, little eye contact, mumbling, head bowed… How would you respond to that sort of stance?

Next time you’re feeling a little like you can’t do something or that everything is tumbling down (I appreciate this may be relatively often in the current market);

  • Lift your chin,
  • Look to the horizon,
  • Stand tall
  • Shoulders back
  • And smile

At the very least you’ll feel a little more able to tackle the world.
Then either write down or list in your head all the things that you ‘can’ do. Give you self 3 minutes or a target list of 10 things, when you’ve done 10 – find another 10 and so on and so forth…

In our journeys through life, self-belief will get you a long way – bolstering that self-belief by regularly remembering what you ‘can’ do is a very good place to start.

As that lovely old expression goes ‘people are like teabags, you never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water’. In the current climate, never a truer word I think!!

Challenge yourself a little everyday, if there’s a tiny thought or perhaps a very big thought that you can’t – see if you can? Make that difference today.

Have a great week.

My warmest regards,