Vail Daily column: Decision, direction and doubt |

Vail Daily column: Decision, direction and doubt

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. A simple theory, and yet a much tougher application to manage sometimes.

Let’s think about an “expert”-rated ski run — you know something that may be really steep and richly covered in moguls. Now the expert skier may be able to take a straight line, going top to bottom as quickly and efficiently as possible. For the intermediate skier, the goal to get to the bottom is the same, but they have to take a more circuitous route. There will be more turns made for sure and they will use more of the mountain as they traverse the slope.

At some point both skiers knew which direction they would be headed and in some cases once they jumped on the chairlift there would be no turning back. The expert has no issues because they can ski or snowboard just about any terrain. So it is with confidence that they take to any hill. However, our intermediate folks may take the same chair ride up with a little trepidation and that fear or nervousness may increase once they are looking over their tips and down at the steep grade and bumps below. Doubt creeps in for sure.


Sometimes we all make decisions without looking at the big picture or complete situation. We have all at some point stood looking out over our tips at a precarious situation where we have already made the commitment or decision to do something knowing we were maybe too ambitious in our thinking or too aggressive in our belief that we could actually pull it off. And yet there we stand, looking at the project or opportunity and we are overcome with fear and doubt. And then we make it worse by letting our ego get in the way as we refuse to ask for help or let others assist us and maybe even come to our rescue. It’s kind of like having ski patrol stop by while we are on the brink, offer us a safe ride down on a sled or snowmobile, and we refuse the help.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But each situation will dictate whether we have the expertise to go from point A to point B as precisely and efficiently as possible, or whether we are still in our learning curve and it will take us a bit longer to accomplish the same goal. So although the shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, the most effective path will be whichever path gets the job done safely, accurately and on time.

When we can accept the level we are operating at in a given activity, event or project, we will place ourselves in a much better position to minimize our doubts, fears and biggest worries. And this is huge because I can tell you that most people stop pursuing their goals and dreams or give up on a path or a project because of doubt and fear. And quitting is just a shame.

Whether we are a beginner at something, average or intermediate, advanced or an expert, we all face that moment of making a decision. We make decisions all day long both consciously and subconsciously, and it is when we are making a conscious decision to engage in something, anything, that we then follow up that decision with some form of direction. We see the road ahead and we embark on the journey and to minimize the fear, doubt and worry, we need to evaluate our skill set, know how far we can stretch ourselves and then know what resources and people are available to help. We need to know if we have the luxury of time on our side and if so, then we can traverse the project as slowly as necessary to achieve the desired results, or if we are expert enough and confident in our ability, then we can take the straight line.

Years ago I would ski just about anything — bumps, trees and steeps. And I would ski them full of doubt and fear sometimes because my ego wouldn’t let me figure out how to ask for help so I could get better. Then I was skiing with my good friend Dudley Ottley, who is a phenomenal skier, and as we were headed down Ripsaw over in Beaver Creek one day, he gave me a few pointers. After just a little bit of practice on those newly acquired techniques, my confidence soared and my fears were abated. And all I had to do was ask for a little help after I had made my decision to ski an expert trail and then committed to the direction or path that I would follow.

Have you made a decision to do something? Have you set your course or direction? And are you having any second thoughts or doubts now that you have made that commitment? I would love to hear all about it at, and when we can ease or eliminate the doubts that creep in, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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