In Alberta, Canada, there is this very famous lake called Lake Louise. Lake Louise is perhaps one of Alberta’s most beloved places. Nestled in the Banff Provincial Park, this lake boasts crystalline green-blue waters surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. People drive for hours to get there.
It is a Destination (with a capital D.)
A place on the Bucket List of many, many people.
It is breath-taking.
And when you are there, you know you are in God’s country.
Last weekend, after a rather intense week of client meetings and deep work in Calgary and Canmore, I headed deeper into the Rocky Mountains to get what I needed: my Lake Louise “fix.”
Now, at home, in Ontario, we have had a really mild autumn, so imagine my delight to find that Lake Louise was frozen!
AND that I could walk on it!
And then imagine what happened when, quite suddenly, as I walked across this incredible lake and gazed up at the massive mountains surrounding me, I froze.
Not from the cold.
But from sheer panic.
What the hell was I doing?!?! I was walking on a LAKE! What if it really wasn’t safe? I mean, sure, there’s other people out here walking but who told THEM it was a good idea? How do THEY know it’s safe? What if the ice cracked right here, right now? I am all alone. Would anyone even notice I had gone under? I could drown for God’s sake!!
Those thoughts were quickly followed with: this is the stupidest thing I have EVER done. I gotta get out of here. Where’s the damn land? GET ME OFF THIS LAKE!
And then reality hit: I was in the middle of Lake Louise.
I was nowhere near land. I couldn’t run (it was too icy). There was no one to help me (only other tourists, many of whom spoke limited English).
I was alone.
And I was there. Right there in the middle of the lake. Like it or not…scared or not…safe or not…whether it was wise or stupid to be out there was irrelevant because THAT WAS WHERE I WAS.
All of this happened within seconds, and I decided in that moment to take a breath and turn around — all around — and get a good look. I turned 360 degrees. Once. Twice. I tried to settle my breathing. And then turned a third time.
My next conscious thought was: “Okay. I don’t like where I am. This does not feel good to me. Yes, I walked out here quite purposefully. No one co-erced me. I did it of my own free will.
I don’t like it.”
So I turned back the way that I had come and I walked carefully and consciously back to the shore, walked past the signs that read: “CAUTION! THIN ICE!” And went inside the Chateau Lake Louise where I ordered a sandwich. And a hot chocolate. Like it was an ordinary day.
But it wasn’t an ordinary day.
No. It was The Day That I Walked On Water.
It was The Day that I realized I had an edge. A threshold. A level of “risk,” if you will, that I find tolerable — and a level that I do not.
And it was The Day that I recognized that within me was the will and the strength to stand at that edge, to look around, to breathe, and then to consciously decide my next move.
For someone like me who has been healing her PTSD for many, many years, the ability to do ANYTHING consciously after feeling that kind of sheer terror is nothing short of a miracle.
To think that, within hours, I was relating what had happened to me to what happens in business all the time is incredible.
For here is what I now know to be true:
1. Just because everyone else thinks something is a “good idea,” doesn’t mean you have to, too.
2. When the sign says, “Caution: Thin Ice!” It might be a good idea to re-evaluate your plans.
3. It’s scary to find yourself in uncharted territory all alone, surrounded by people, perhaps, but no one that speaks your language or who is looking out for you, who would notice if the ice opened up and in you fell.
4. It’s important to know what you will do when you reach your own “threshold” for risk and imperative to know that you can simply turn back and go get a hot cocoa.
5. Consciously choosing our actions is really the only way to go.
6. When it comes right down to it, each of us is responsible for where we walk, how we get there, and what we do once we get to where we are going.
7. Sometimes, what seems like a good idea ends up being not so smart.
8. And yes, there is always a silver lining, but in that moment of realizing what you’ve done isn’t so wise, you won’t see it and that’s okay. You’re human.
9. When you reach your threshold for risk, and calmly decide to walk away, there is no shame. No judgement. There is only pride at a job well done, a choice consciously made.
10. If you’re going to have A Day where you reach your own personal threshold, doing it in a beautiful place does make it all feel somehow better in the end, and makes for fabulous photos!
So you see, wise or not, safe or not, I chose to walk on to that lake.
And when I hit my threshold, I turned around, looked about, evaluated, and came back to land.
As business people, we do this every day, sometimes without even recognizing it.
But I encourage you to notice. To pay attention to it. To mark these moments as The Moments that they are.
They are The Moments You Walk On Water.
And they are glorious.
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Rebecca Liston helps her clients predict, pivot, and compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. Her clients quickly uncover the root of their challenges and know the actions to take to overcome them. A six-time nominee for the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award, Rebecca combines business strategy with intuition, giving her clients the edge on forward-thinking, elegant answers to their most complicated problems. Her clients are entrepreneurs with CEO-mindsets and executives with entrepreneurial instincts. She is based in London, Ontario. What if you could get the answer to your biggest business challenge, in one sitting? Visit rebeccaliston.com to find out more.