You Can Still Ski with a Broken Boot

It wasn’t a big surprise to find that an 80’s era cross country ski boot was passed it’s prime. In hindsight, it’s no surprise — the boot looked like a 30 year old gym shoe. It had nice styling but didn’t belong in the world of cross country ski boots. I had purchased the boots without much forethought from a guy on craigslist and never had the chance to use them.

I don’t know how fast it happened or when he first noticed it, but without much warning the sole was almost completely detached from the boot my friend Chad was wearing on his first (and very much anticipated) cross country ski excursion.

We found ourselves in the middle of nowhere with miles of snow between us and our car— too far to walk in socks.

He managed to continue on skiing. Though his stride was severely altered, Chad was able to keep cruising along. He was doing so well in fact, that he chose to do a little extra distance, just for fun.

He was even positive about the whole experience. If I had been in his place, it would have been easy for me to be very frustrated. It was all less than ideal and I don’t know if I would have continued enjoying the adventure of it.

Chad wanted to go cross country skiing and he got to go cross country skiing, even though it was not an ideal experience.

I wonder how often we miss out on the things that we are waiting for and hoping for because they look different than our ideal? How often do we choose not to push into making a meaningful impact because we’d have to start with a less robust version of it?

Can we instead be grateful that we get the chance to do something that matters, even if we only get to experience the tip of that iceburg?

My friend Chad could have left feeling disappointed that his skiing experience was limited by a broken ski boot. Because of that boot, he didn’t get to power up and down hills as fast as possible. He didn’t have long to feel the glide of a solid stride and rhythm.

But he got to ski, and skiing with a broken boot is still skiing.

We often don’t attempt something that matters to us because we can’t fulfill our entire vision for it. We often let the limits of our situation and abilities keep us from the work that really matters.

Sometimes you have to start with a simplified version of your work and your dream. [Tweet that]

Sometimes you have to begin with something that only slightly resembles the work that you want to be a part of. But by starting, you get a small taste of it, and (this is important!) you actually begin. Things can only improve from there.

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8 Comments

  1. Mallory March 6, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    “Sometimes you have to begin with something that only slightly resembles the work that you want to be a part of. But by starting, you get a small taste of it, and (this is important!) you actually begin.”
    This is exactly what I needed to hear. This gives me some sort of permission (that I’ve been looking for from I-don’t-know-who; but that’s a different blog post!) to step into work that is good, important work, though only resembles my “dream work.” Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Reply
    1. Dan Cumberland March 6, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks Mallory. I’m glad to be one of the voices cheering for you and giving you that permission!

      Reply
    2. Alex March 10, 2014 at 12:53 am

      I was just going to say that it is exactly what I need to her too!
      “Sometimes you have to begin with something that only slightly resembles the work that you want to be a part of. But by starting, you get a small taste of it, and (this is important!) you actually begin.”

      There is a job I am thinking about – and i have been feeling like I have a broken boot- and thus not enough to make it. What it is… is that my current job has made me feel less confident in myself ( nothing to do with my employer or the job itself) and so hearing that I “can “ski with a broken boot makes me think that It wouldnt hurt to apply and perhaps, this will just lead me closer and closer to where/what I need to be doing. Thanks for posting this

      Reply
      1. Dan Cumberland March 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

        I love that this hit home. Thanks Alex. You have more to offer than you think you do, you may just need the right environment. I’m rooting for you!

        Reply
  2. The man with the broken boot March 6, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Dan-thanks for the insightful and unexpected reflection on our ski adventure. Those boots were sleek and probably the talk of the town back in the 80s. : ) This actually is a situation that has often thrown me off: the opportunity in front of me is not what I expected. This happens less now than it used to in my work and personal life which I attribute in large part to the people I have around me who help me right size the downside, laugh, and enjoy the moment. Saturday was no exception.

    Reply
    1. Dad March 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      WOW……….new life perspective for me…..Learning to “Right size the downside!!!” I love it!! Maybe a new self help book title…..I guess ” size” does matter, that is “the right” size. Thanks to you, Man with the broken boot!!

      Reply
      1. Dan Cumberland March 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm

        Nice! Great directions to explore here 😉 Thanks!

        Reply
    2. Dan Cumberland March 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks Chad! Having the right people around helps for sure. Glad to be one of them!

      Reply

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