Leaning forward | Philstar.com

Wisdom Inc. This is the title of the book written by Seth Godin, and I read it many years ago. In it, he talks about snow skiing, and at first, I figured this kind of sport would carry no relevance to people in this country, but a closer look indicated that there are principles we can all learn here. Let me share it with you.


Seth Godin says, “When I was 12, my father taught me how to ski. The first few lessons were pretty straightforward. I had absurdly short skis, and I quickly learned how to do parallel turns and traverse. Then I plateaued.

I could ski, but not very well. I’d lean back and head down the slope, but I felt all the excitement of riding a bicycle. “Lean forward,” my dad would say.

Leaning forward struck me as a ridiculous concept. I was already going down a steep hill – actually, more like a mountain. Leaning forward seemed like a maneuver that would surely lead to hurtling over a cliff and definite serious injury.

After a few weeks of fighting my dad’s advice, I happened to catch some ski racing on Wide World of Sports. “These guys really know how to ski,” I said to myself. “How do they do it?” I watched carefully and soon learned the trick: they all leaned forward.

Turns out that leaning forward is the secret of skiing. When you lean forward, you commit to the slope. Instead of coasting, you carve your turns on the mountain. The stakes get higher – the decisions that you make each second become crucial. You are more fully engaged with the sport and with yourself.

Unfortunately, most skiers never learn to lean forward. Leaning back is easier, simpler, safer. It’s more natural. But it leads to mediocre skiing.”

As I pondered over what Godin said, it then occurred that leaning forward is all about changing our attitude at work in a way that our bosses, co-workers, and employees will notice and appreciate.

One careful look at the most progressive people in the workplace and we will have to admit that they are the same people who are engaged, happy, and motivated. They get the best projects, the fastest promotions, and perhaps the most job security. They do not go on cruise control; they fight the possibility of plateauing in their jobs because chances are they are leaning forward.

Leaning forward is all about altering our attitude. But just like Seth Godin resisting his father’s advice, many people cannot make it because they resist altering their attitude. They let fear and inertia keep them from changing their approach to work.

Nearly every business book written in the last few years identifies attitude as a crucial element in a company’s success. When employees are engaged, committed, and motivated, a company’s profit, market share, and long-term growth potential go off the charts. Something else happens as well, employees’ lives are changed.

Leaning forward means we come up with a decision that says: “Life’s too short to waste even one day sleepwalking through a dead-end job, checking your watch, and waiting for the next coffee break or the end of the day or the weekend.”

Change your attitude, and you change your thinking system. Change your thinking system, and you change your actions. Change your actions, and you change your habits, and a brand new character is formed. Change your character, and this alters your entire destiny.

Times are hard, but you have to lean forward with the flow. For almost two years of leaning back, grinding through the day, and just trying to survive, we need to look forward to the future – leaning forward and regaining momentum and productivity. Somehow I feel that this should be leaders’ message for their people as they prepare the workforce to enter the new reality. Not to lean back in the “NEW NORMAL,” but to lean into the “NEW POSSIBLE!”

It’s amazing to know that the Bible encourages this move. It doesn’t say that going down a hill, you hide in the safety of a cave or resist its momentum. It says, you welcome adversities and deal with them face-on. Difficulties in life are not meant to destroy us; they are meant to make us stronger. So what do you call this principle? It’s leaning forward, isn’t it?

Francis Kong now has a podcast entitled: “Inspiring Excellence” available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or other podcast streaming platforms.

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