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You Call This Snow?!

By: Stuart Knight (Founder and CEO) | February 15, 2024

Some of my earliest memories involve snow.  For those of you who went clubbing during the 80’s, I’m talking about the stuff that falls from the sky!  As kids, we didn’t see snow as a problem, but rather an opportunity to create stories.  There was the time when my brother almost died while tobogganing after hitting his head on a lamp post at the end of an epic run down the hill.  There were the memories of jumping off the roof of our house into snow banks that were ten feet tall!  And of course there were the angels, the forts, the fights, the Frosty’s and the fun that all involved snow.  Thankfully, growing up in a small town, situated on the shores of one of the great lakes, ensured there was lots of it.  

It was for this reason that, years later as an adult living in Toronto, I was often baffled when Canadians living in more northern climates would make fun of us “Southerners” for complaining about what they saw as a small amount of snow.  I remember thinking in those moments, “Just how much snow do you guys have up there?”  Well, as luck would have it, my job as a speaker allowed me to see for myself when I began keynoting in places like St. John’s, NFLD, Timmons, Ontario and Regina, Saskatchewan.  Along the way, I met lovely people, but saw enough snow to make a grown man cry.  That grown man being me!  Let’s just say that it helped me get the joke they had been making at our expense!

So, this week I had the chance to experience that Northern Canadian smugness as New York City canceled all schools due to a “massive” dumping of what felt like about three inches of snow.  And it wasn’t just any kind of snow.  It was wet snow that appeared more like glorified rain that pretty much melted the second it hit the ground.  As a Canadian, what I saw out my window upon waking was nothing more than a typical February morning back where I lived for most of my life.  For that reason, I was instantly launched into becoming a man thirty years past my age saying, “You call this snow?  This is nothing more than a dusting!”  

And this got me thinking about how everything we experience in any given moment is directly influenced by what we have experienced in the past. A snowfall bigger than what a person has experienced in the past will determine their reaction to that snowfall today.  The snow falls in one city and it isn’t even noticed, while the same amount of snow falls in another and it causes thousands of students to miss a day of school. We essentially handle the challenges of today based on the challenges we have faced in the past.  I actually address this topic in one of my keynote speeches where I remind my audience about the importance of experiencing pain.  I tell them that running away from potentially painful moments today will make those same experiences much harder to tolerate when they eventually happen in the future.  For that reason, I encourage them to chase more pain rather than looking for more ways to avoid it.

In fact, I think this has become a blind spot for most western nations, as a multitude of overprotective parents, bent on raising children that never experience hardship, are inadvertently creating a society too fragile to realize its own greatness.  Another example of that can be found in more and more people incapable of hearing an idea that differs from their own.  You’re pro life?  Well, I guess with me being pro choice it must surely mean that you and I couldn’t figure out how to successfully bake a tasty carrot cake, let alone solve big problems together.  Let’s be clear.  Pain, heartache, discomfort, disagreeable people, and yes even snowy days are part of life, and when we do everything in our power to avoid them, we begin losing our power.

I’ve even seen this reality spill over into the way people vacation.  If an adventure to some other part of the world proves to be even remotely challenging, the plan is tossed out the window.  Throw them into a situation where they might have to experience something as straightforward as a stop over along the way, and people think they need to hire a team of conflict resolution experts.   Personally, I’ve seen the benefit of traveling off the beaten path, and thinking about this reminds me of the time when I trekked into the Amazon basin.  Getting there required one long flight, followed by a lengthy stop over, then onto another flight, then a bus, then a two hour ride on a motor boat up a wide river, then a hike through the swelteringly hot and sticky forest, then a couple of hours traveling in a canoe before finally arriving.  I’ll never forget laying in bed that first night listening to the symphony of over one hundred thousand insects and nocturnal animals all making their own unique sounds, that together were unmatched by any human choir on the planet.  Simply put, the journey was worth it.

Some of life’s challenges are out of our control and hit us by surprise, while others are those we have the luxury of inviting in.  Sure, if you do not live in a climate that experiences heavy snowfall, you can’t really be blamed for seeing it as a bigger deal than it is when it happens.  However, if you have deliberately secured an existence that helps you avoid life’s winter storms altogether, I’d wager that you didn’t beat the casino of life.  In fact, I’d say a true winning hand is only fully understood by the number of times you've had to fold.  For that reason, I encourage you to start taking greater risk, getting dirty a little more often and doing things you’ve never done before.   You can handle a lot more pain, loss, heartache, discomfort and snow than you think.  You absolutely will not regret proving that to yourself.  And when looking back at all of the scrapes and bruises incurred from your leaps of faith you will say, “That was just a dusting!”

Much love,

Stuart Knight

Connect with Stuart on Instagram  and LinkedIn 

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