While visiting the Northern Lights we had a go at snowmobiling. This was a tough new experience for me – practical and physical learning are not my strong suit!
The first time we went out we were in a forest area. Six snowmobiles followed our leader/tutor, and my husband Martin and I ended up at the back of the group. Even on the practice session I fell way behind the others. I felt the dunce, the slow coach – and a whole host of unhelpful assumptions and beliefs were quick to run in my head – I wasn’t strong enough, I always find practical task difficult, others find it easier – you get the gist. It didn’t get better and I got scared. I did little bits of driving but not much and felt a sense of defeat. I tried to persuade myself I was differently skilled from others rather than less than or inadequate, but didn’t quite buy it. I knew I could have done more.
The second time we went out snowmobiling we were on the frozen Lake Inari. Truthfully I wasn’t looking forward to it, although I thought it might be easier on a big flat lake (less up and down!). Nevertheless I was absolutely determined to have a go. In the three days since my first experience I had concluded that I needed to meet my learning needs better. There was a slight problem though – I didn’t really know what they were nor how to ask.
The second time there were lots of small differences, which all together made things so much more possible for me, and gave me the result I wanted.
First of all I felt much more rapport with Lamu, our group leader. He engaged with all of us differently. There was more eye contact, a sense of being together and more warmth. He related really well with the seven year old daughter of one couple. It was clear he wanted her to feel safe, confident and to enjoy the experience. These seemed good signs!
His sensitivity to all of us somehow enabled me to voice early, right from the start, both my aspiration (I did want to do it) and my concern (I was slow, please could I go in the middle). This allowed me to feel more confident, seen and heard. This was a huge step forward in stating and meeting my needs.
When it came to the practice run, again I was slow and found turning difficult. But something happened – it was a smaller group, there was more explanation from Lamu, he listened to us – I started to feel more connection with him. It felt like we were in a relationship together on this task. Then (surprise!), I started to feel that I could do it and went round the practice loop more confidently.
Setting off, Lamu was both decisive and directive. I was put second, with Lamu moving the confident and fast driver to the end, allowing us a strong finish. It was clear that Lamu was in charge.
Lamu adjusted his pace to me. When I was slow driving down onto the lake (I did find that bit scary), he looped round to check I was OK. He didn’t go on ahead leaving me feeling under pressure to constantly catch up. I felt part of something and like I was succeeding.
It took me a while to get in the groove on the lake – literally and metaphorically following the tracks before me! Sometimes the sound was offputting – it was crunchy! I learnt to lean in for the curves, moving my body forward, leading from my hips and pelvis rather than taking all the strain in my arms. This made it so much less tiring and felt safer too.
I felt comfortable asking for help – when Martin was pillion, I asked him to adjust the temperature of the handlebars for me, so I could concentrate on driving. (Warm handlebars at minus 25 degrees are most welcome!).
I found myself taking my place, not apologising for who I am or how I was in the group. Lamu did attend to the different needs of those who genuinely wanted to go fast too, we stopped and were offered the chance to blast round in a big loop. Funnily enough only the men took up that offer…
I knew my limitations, and was willing to accept when I was tired. So when we were back from Lake Inari and driving up to the Russian border through forest, more lakes and dusk, I knew I had met my goal and it was time for me to be happy as pillion.
At the end of the day I was extremely proud of myself. Lamu, the group, Martin and me had managed to create an experience where I was able to learn, lean in to discomfort and achieve my goal. I was truly, genuinely satisfied and can remember the feeling now as I write.
Turning to you.
Does any part of my story might ring true for you and your learning?
It may be that you are great with physical and practical learning (the opposite of me), but struggle to reach into your leadership potential.
Can I be your Lamu, to help you with that?
Do you need more rapport, connection, pace, adjustment, maybe a smaller group, to help you with your leadership learning, where you can feel confident that you can engage well with the person in charge?
I would love to have an exploratory conversation to find out what would help you shift from feeling scared and inadequate to proud and satisfied, learning as a leader whilst meeting your goals and delivering results.
And if you would like to know a little bit more about what other clients say and the difference in their results, take a look at their testimonials here:
Photos Credits: Martin How