We’ve not had much snow lately in North Carolina, but last week we did see a pretty good dusting. Enough to allow me to take Anna over to the park for a short ride down the hill on a sledding tub. I don’t get on a sled much any more, and while I enjoyed the ride, it did bring back a vivid memory and a lesson from my younger days.
Now that my parents have both passed on to the next life, I can safely tell this story. Although I expect my mom knew what happened all along, as only mothers can. It was a painful life lesson about looking backwards when you should be focused on where you are going.
We did not have continuous snow cover in Kentucky, but when the ground was white, I was probably outside on a sled. One snowy afternoon when I was 15, my friend Wayne (who already had his driver’s license) and I planned a trip to George Rogers Clark Park for a little sledding. We picked up his girlfriend at the time and headed out to the park, bundled up and ready for some fast downhill action.
We met some folks at the park that were riding downhill on a car hood. Seemed like a cool idea at the time. It was wide and fast and totally out of control; the perfect draw for a couple of teenagers out for an afternoon of adventure.
I do remember thinking that my mom would most certainly not approve of me riding down the hill on the hood of a car. Partly because it was not safe with all the metal edges and mostly because she knew better – I did not. But the parents were not around, we were on an adventure and I hopped on for the ride.
The three of us started off down the hill all facing in the right direction. Yes, it was fast and it was fun. Not too far into the ride, we hit a bump, tossing my other two passengers off and spinning me around so I continued down the hill backwards. I was looking back up at Wayne and remember him waving, laughing and yelling. I turned around to look where I was going and a split second later, I made contact with the tree.
It stopped me completely. Fortunately, I was wearing several layers of clothing and luckily I impacted the tree about two inches to the right of my spine, dead center in the largest muscle of my back. My head snapped back, but missed the tree. Had I landed a few inches the other way with my spine taking the impact, I probably would not have walked away and might not be writing this post as well.
They helped me back up the hill and slid me into the car. It felt like I had cracked something, but I was too scared to go to a doctor. Wayne dropped me off at my house and left quickly before anyone could ask where we had been. I went straight to my room, got in bed, and said my prayers for not ending up in the ER. I never said anything to Mom, but I’m sure she knew something not quite right.
I try to look back on these life events and see if I can learn something so I don’t have to go through that pain a second time. For me, I believe this was an example of the value of looking forward when you are going somewhere fast. Running a business, in today’s spiraling economic climate, reminds me of my sledding adventure and the importance of staying focused on where you are heading.
At Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, we try to do just that. We’ve introduced a new line of packaging with bright colors, are adding some new services for our business clients, and continue to look for ways where we can add value to our existing customers as well as new clients. Debbie and I are shaping some ideas for a new website that we hope to launch shortly. We’re moving forward fast, watching where we are going and not continually looking backwards.
In my other business, Master The Gap, we recently migrated our website to a new software platform, changed merchant processing systems, moved to a new email management system and added three new markets to our services. Two of us managed to pull all this together in a little over a week. And just to keep things interesting, my friend and business partner, Scott Andrews, was a featured speaker at four events at Traders Expo in New York, starting just two days after all this went live. It was a new experience for me in moving at light speed with no margin for error. We made a command decision to move forward and did not look back for one minute.
Don’t get me wrong – history is important. You have to know where you’ve come from to get a clear sense of where you are going. But, there is a time to look back and be reflective, and a time to look forward. When you are racing down a hill or running a business in a fast changing environment like we have today, you’d better stay focused on where you are headed or you just might hit a tree.