Two skinny poles and a skinny Finn

Whilst it pains me to admit it, I can be a bit of a scaredy-cat sometimes. Last Monday when I stood at the top of a very steep slope covered in very deep, very fluffy snow in Finland was one of those times.

Here I am, bundled up in many layers. That tiny smile could be described as how I look when I’m repeating ‘this is all going to be just fine’ in my head.

Snowshoeing at Basecamp Oulanka, Finland

Nervous novice on snowshoes

It was my first time in snowshoes. A long red plastic flap with two rails and some fearsome metal teeth beneath the ball of my foot dangled from each leg. I felt ungainly and unstable, like I was wearing clown shoes, and I looked pretty funny too. Thankfully, so did everyone else – apart from our guide, Teddy, who looked like he’d been doing this ever since he learnt to walk. Oh, that’s right, he has been.

So there I was, looking down at that slope. One way or another, I had to get to the bottom, preferably not on my bottom. I knew the principles: dig the teeth of the snowshoe into the snow, shift my centre of gravity back, use my poles as extra points of contact. Others in the group were making their way down the slope so I knew it could be done but still I wavered.

‘Trust your equipment’, called Teddy. Trust in two bits of plastic with metal teeth and some skinny poles? Well, I decided to trust the skinny Finn and my equipment and set off. Sure enough, I felt the teeth dig into the snow and the poles stabilise me and there I was, snow-shoeing down a hill! Of course, pride often comes before a fall and I did slither down the last little bit but I got there. The equipment did exactly what it was supposed to do and eventually so did I.

Teddy/Bjorn Lindell instructor at Basecamp Oulanka

Teddy – aka the skinny Finn

How often do we have a problem with trust? It seems to be a particular problem when it comes to delegation. We brief a colleague about a task, set deadlines and objectives and, in theory, should then be able to walk away and let him get on with it. However, in practice, we seem unable to trust him with the task – we keep checking in, re-wording things, fretting that the task isn’t being done exactly the way we’d like and sometimes even taking the task back. We waste our time, our colleague’s time and undermine his confidence, often because we are worried how the end result will reflect on us.

Being trusted to perform a particular task is an important part of our professional and personal development. Trusting a colleague to perform a delegated task is an equally important part of our development.

Of course, we have a responsibility to make sure the person to whom we delegate is properly resourced and equipped, just as Teddy and the staff at Basecamp Oulanka made sure we were properly equipped before we headed out to the Finnish wilderness. After that, we have to let go of our fear and trust.

Today’s pebble for you to consider:

How will you demonstrate trust this week?

What do you think?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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2 Responses to Two skinny poles and a skinny Finn

  1. The skinny finn & the rest of the staff at Basecamp Oulanka says:

    Hahaha! everybody who read this just laughed their a**es off! There is many outdoor sports where you need to trust the equipment a lot such as snowshoeing downhill. 😉

  2. Pingback: Why a week in Finland will help me for a lifetime | Turning over pebbles

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