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  • Writer's pictureCory McGowan

(Not) Karving with Karl




At the top of the chairlift, looking out over the beautiful mountains in the Yuzawa area, white covered peaks, stunning against the blue of the sky, I told Karl that my intention for this second to last run (a wise woman once told me you never say it’s your last run down the mountain, lest you invite bad luck before you get to the bottom) was to have fun. 




Looking back (and even at the time if I’m honest), it struck me as a strange thing to be saying. Who needs to set the intention to have fun when you’re out snowboarding, or on any kind of adventure with a friend?! I needed to at the time, and I want to use this piece to dig into that a bit. 


Yesterday was Monday, and it was my first pilot of what I’m calling Mondays at the Office Adventures. I’ve been working four day weeks for almost two years now, which started as a realization and an experiment. The realization was that even though I love going on adventures and that is a core part of my coaching approach and branding, I wasn’t actually going on many because I was so worried about trying to make my business succeed.


The experiment was: what if I just do more of what I want to do, and see how that impacts the success of my business? So, on Mondays my ‘office’ became the wild outdoors, and the results so far have been great.  


And then last year, another realization: I do most of my adventuring alone, and I have for a long time - I’d love some company. Mondays at the Office Adventures is a way to invite someone along while also having the benefit of creating new and deeper connections with people. I also get to share the charming town and beautiful wilderness of Minakami with more people, one of my favorite things in the world to do since we moved here five years ago. 


Karl was my first willing fellow adventurer for this new initiative. He was a perfect fit in a lot of ways - an introduction through a friend, and someone I spoke with once already, so I had a sense of who he was. Also, as a fellow business owner, it wasn’t hard for him to get his boss to give him a Monday off :) Our plan was to ride some Japow on our snowboards, and I was excited to see what the day would bring. 


A couple of hours into the day, we were riding the lift and saw a skiier going down one of the steeper slopes, carving these beautiful S turns in the snow with power, confidence, and flow. It was a dance with the mountain, rhythm provided through the bending and flexing of joints and muscle, the steel edges digging in to the groomed surface was the music. It is not hard to imagine the being of the mountain and the being of the skiier had been created specifically to meld into into each other for this short moment in eternity. 


I commented to Karl that I wished I could ski or snowboard like that and just so appreciate the aesthetic of it. He shared that he had come close to it when following a snowboarding coach he worked with, but seemed to lose the ability when the coach wasn’t there. 


The reality for me was that I was nowhere near carving that day. It was all groomed conditions, no powder in sight, and I had convinced myself from the get go that it was going to be hard for me to ride well because I could only really ride well in powder. I then spent most of the day proving myself right. 


Now that I’ve had a bit of space and time to reflect on what was happening that day with my riding and the frustration I created around it, I understand that I was pulling a classic human move of not really just being with my experience. I spent the majority of the time in my head comparing myself to the me who rides in powder and is relaxed and jubilant. Or to Karl, who was riding really comfortably despite me snowboarding more than him in general due to my proximity to the mountains. Or thinking about how as someone who people see as ‘the adventure guy’ I should be less concerned about speed, wiping out, etc. Sheesh!


It can be so easy for me to forget about the miracles that surround me at any moment. Mountains are miracles, as is the snow that covers them (especially this winter!). Having the health, privilege, freedom, financial means, and physical ability to spend the day sliding down the mountain on a fancy piece of wood is a miracle. Someone who barely knows me being willing to spend the day with me in the outdoors is a miracle. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to have more of this awareness at the time, but I’m a human who is practicing living artfully, and that doesn’t mean I’m always going to get it right. 


Fortunately, outside of my personal snowboarding experience, I did not have to set an intention of having fun when it came to the time spent with Karl. While the work we do is similar, our paths to that have been very different. It was really fun to experience his level of passion for how he works with clients and helps them to meaningfully grow their businesses, and how he manages to bring that same level of passion to the rest of his work, life, and play. We are already taking next steps in exploring how we may collaborate in some of the work we do, as well. 


The main desired outcome of my Mondays at the Office Adventures is to create and deepen new connections. It was great to get to have someone participate in it the first time and experience not only that, but also to get a great reminder of and appreciation for the little things we are surrounded by in our lives that are miracles. 

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