In residential real estate, the value of a property is often found through market comps, the comparison of the property in question to other, nearby residences that are similar. Of course, no property is identical to any other, so adjustments are made to the sales prices of the comps to arrive at a value for a given property. It’s as much art as science, learning the values of the various adjustments, adding here and subtracting there in order to create a level playing field.
I like this strategy – using comparisons yet also recognizing individual character and worth. In fact, it’s not a bad game plan in other areas as well, as I discovered this past week.
We just returned from our second (hopefully) annual ski trip. Last year, it was just Brock and I. This was perfect, as I was very nervous about tackling the sport. For some reason, going downhill is panic-inducing for me. Like, limbic system lockdown panic. This only happens when I am the one in control of steering and slowing – rollerblades, bikes, running and even driving. Roller coasters and sitting in a passenger seat on a fast descent are no problem – in fact, I love them.
It would be easiest for me to avoid those situations that require me to trust my ability to control my speed and direction. Easiest, but also limiting. And, if there is one takeaway lesson from my divorce, it is not let fear ever limit me again.
Last year’s trip was the first time I ever really tackled this fear of the downhill head-on. And it was quite a meeting. Seriously, check it out, if only to laugh at the pictures of me looking like a newborn giraffe attempting to take its first steps:)
This time was a little different. I knew a little more what to expect, which tempered some fear but also provided scaffolding for expectations, which I had avoided year one. Furthermore, we were not alone this time; we were joined by three friends, two who as accomplished skiers and one who was brand new to the sport.
On the first day, I went with Brock straight to the easiest green run that I had skied last year. I was nervous as the lift neared the top, wondering if the feeling of my skis on the hill would be familiar or if my body would remember how to move. It wasn’t bad. I bailed soon after my skis hit the snow, which I also did every time last year. Once I stood up and took a few deep breaths, I was ready to tackle the slope. I never fell, but I sat down (my reaction when panic set in either due to excessive speed or fear that I couldn’t steer around someone) several times. I went down that same slope several more times that afternoon, each run a bit better than the previous.
But I still hadn’t mastered my nemesis. That run has a short, steeper portion about halfway down. It’s a bit tricky, not only due to the increased decline, but also due to the curve, steep, treed drop-off and the heaps of other beginners who didn’t make it down in one attempt. Each time, I would stop at the top of the hill and wait for a clear (or at least clearer) path. Each time, I would make it about halfway down the slope before panicking and bailing. As the attempts went on, I grew more and more frustrated with myself.
It didn’t help that this time, I was also comparing myself to another – the brand new skier in our group. By about run number three, he was able to make it down that entire green slope without falling. I saw him, another novice, as comparable to myself. So when I fell short, I felt defeated.
I carried that feeling into day two. That, plus a serious sleep shortage and a not-too-happy belly, led to a limited day. But it still had its bright spots.
In the morning, I again did “my” run, this time with one of our friends who is an excellent skier. He was trying to encourage me to give up on the snow plow method of braking (which is what I was taught the previous year) and instead use turns to control my speed. By the end of the run, I was starting to pick up his suggestions and become comfortable in their application.
Brock then joined me on my next run. I had two firsts – I made it off the lift without bailing and I made it down my nemesis without ever touching the ground (which my bruised butt appreciated!). Once I realized I made it down intact, I was distracted and fell soon after. I was surprised to feel tears on my cheeks as I stood up. Tears not from pain, but from the satisfaction of facing and conquering a fear. Not unlike the tears that fell during the marathon.
At that moment, it didn’t matter that there are many that could ski that hill backwards and blindfolded. It didn’t matter that our novice friend mastered faster than me. All that mattered was that I faced my fear, stayed with it and learned to trust my ability to make it through. I had been using comps to judge myself, but I had failed to make adjustments. Unlike our friend, I had some repair work to do before I was ready enough to gain confidence on the slopes. Once I allowed time for those restorations, I was right on track.
By midday, I had graduated to a more difficult and longer beginner’s run. I again made it off the lift (this time one with a VERY steep ramp at the offload) without bailing. And, although I fell several times, I handled each hill better than the last and allowed my speed to pick up more and more. At one point, alone on a lift, I thought of the trust fall activity where one person with eyes covered, falls backwards, counting on a partner to break the fall. Until that day, I hadn’t been letting myself fall. On that day, I learned that I could let go and trust myself to get back up.
By the third morning, I approached the slopes with confidence rather than trepidation. I made it through six beginner runs without falling or bailing (yes, including my nemesis!). My legs were giving out but I could feel that it was no longer as taxing on my mind. I was no longer facing a fear, the hills had become known. Maybe not allies yet, but no longer adversaries.
During the entire trip, Brock had been pushing me to try an intermediate blue slope. I kept pushing back, convinced I was not ready. I think I surprised him when I met him at the bottom of the slope and asked him to run a blue with me. I knew I was ready yet I also knew it would be a challenge. It didn’t let me down. Well, actually, I guess it did, as my flawless beginner runs gave way to multiple tumbles (including a spectacular face plant).
But you know what? I never panicked on that run. I never got frustrated. I didn’t compare myself to the other newbie who had been skiing blues for two days by that point. All I thought about was the progress that I had made.
Because regardless of the comparisons we make to others, we are all unique properties with our own areas of strength and weakness. Rather than trying to compare yourself to the others, work on your own renovations, making yourself the best you can.
As for me, I may never be the best skier around, but I am the best skier I can be. At least until next year, when I plan on mastering those intermediate slopes:)