A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I were driving over Snoqualmie pass, which is about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Seeing the snow covered slopes I was reminded of a story from my childhood that my parents frequently tell.
When I was around seven years old, my mom and dad took my sister and me skiing for the first time. I remember being in the parking lot by our car getting all of our gear on. My sister, three years younger than me, was not really cooperating so our mom struggled to get her all bundled up. "Do you have to use the bathroom?" was asked of my sister more than once.
After I, my sister, and our parents were all dressed, we grabbed our skis and poles and began walking to the ticket booth and chairlift. Once on the snow, our mom helped us get our skis on while our dad went to purchase lift tickets. Coming back with tickets in hand, our dad put our lift tickets on our jackets and we were all set. And then my sister said, "I have to go to the bathroom." Classic.
Dressed similar to Randy from A Christmas Story, my sister looked like a maroon marshmallow in a hat. She was totally wrapped in layers so getting her to the restroom in the lodge was going to take both of my parent's assistance.
As they were leaving, my parents both told me to stay where I was, which was right at the entrance of the base chairlift. A few minutes after my parents and sister left, a crowd at the entrance gathered and I got swept up in the forward movement. As the adult mob moved me progressively closer and closer to the actual chairlift, I realized there was no way to retreat—like it or not, I was going to have to get on the chair.
Having no understanding how the loading processes worked, I focused as best as I could on the people ahead of me, trying to get my seven-year-old brain to comprehend chairlift 101 in less than ten seconds. As the leading chair in front of me passed by, I shuffled in behind it to get positioned. And I must have taken my sweet time because once I got to the correct spot, the chair was coming in hot to sweep me skyward. Panicked, I flailed my arms around the outside vertical frame clinging for safety and doing my very best to keep from falling off. It worked, and somehow I even managed to keep possession of my ski poles.
Now two concerns came rushing to my mind. One, I was definitely no longer in the place where my parents had asked me to stay. And two, I had no idea what was in store for me regarding getting off the chairlift, let alone attempting to ski down the steepest slope I had ever encountered with zero guidance.
As I approached the top, I again focused on my surroundings and made my best guess on what to expect. Was I scared? Oh yeah.
Ahead, it looked like the people just stood up to get off when the timing was right...and then they disappeared. "Where are they going?" I thought. "Ok—no time to think—gotta do it." As my chair crested the top, I could see what needed to be done. And my eyes got really big when I saw the long ramp I had to ski down. When the moment seemed best, instinct took control. I leapt from my seat and then skied (if that is what you want to call it) for about ten feet, crashed, and then slid a few feet more to finish off the display. "Alright, the hardest ski crash of my skiing career is now out of the way," I seem to picture myself thinking at that time.
Picking myself up, I shuffled about another 100 feet to where the actual ski face began. Looking down toward the base of the mountain, my heart began to race. Before me was a very steep pitch (relative to an inexperienced little human standing only 3 1/2' tall) and somewhere at the end of that steep pitch were my mom and dad worried sick.
At the base of the mountain, my parents were looking all over for me. My mom was getting anxious with thoughts of her son being kidnapped...until she looked up the ski slope to find me bombing down the hill and crashing with every turn. "Did Billy go up the chairlift by himself?" my parents thought as they looked at each other in puzzlement.
Indeed I did. And now with the chairlift challenge out of the way, my next goal was to make it down the hill without falling. I was determined not to end the day until I met my goal. Run after run after run I gave it a shot but each time I had some sort of spill. When closing time came around, there was only one final chance to succeed before the lifts stopped operating. Slowing down my pace, I meticulously made each of my turns the best I could. And with that determined spirit, I did make it down without falling—I'm sure it wasn't pretty, but my goal was met. And what happened next? As soon as I got out of my ski-gear and into the car, I instantly fell asleep and slept the whole way home.
Reaching my goal came with total body exhaustion.
As the late American author Augustine "Og" Mandino once said, "Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough."
Determination is the positive emotional feeling that involves persevering towards a difficult goal in spite of obstacles. It occurs prior to goal attainment and serves to motivate behavior that will help achieve one’s goal. Determination pushes individuals toward action and generates important and rewarding outcomes.
As the late American author Henry Van Dyke once said, "Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to."
We all need determination in our lives. Setting goals takes desire, but completing them takes determination.
Despite any obstacles or challenges we have encountered in the past or will face in the future, we at BILLY Footwear are determined to do great things. With the love and generous support from folks such as yourself, we are positioned wonderfully in terms of making a positive impact. And naturally we are incredibly excited and grateful knowing you are coming along with us on this epic journey. Sound good?
Oh, and did I mention we will have kid's shoes on Zappos and in Nordstrom this coming August?