ANY Decision Would Have Worked Better

May 13, 2020

As a teenager, I was involved in a youth group that took a day trip to a ski park once a year.

Just in case you’re now thinking of me as a sleek athletic skiing type person…keep in mind that I grew up in Central Illinois. We don’t have mountains…we barely have things that qualify as hills and to find a hill that is even kind of ski-worthy, we’d have to load up in the bus and travel a couple of hours.

I’m not sure that really even qualifies as real skiing, but in Illinois, it did.

It was skiing enough for them to have a ski lift with bench seats that took you from the bottom of the hill to the top.

And the ski lift is where the point of this story comes in.

You see, getting “good enough” to be able to graduate from the kiddie slope to the slopes that required riding the lift was a pretty cool moment. I was ready and the view as I rode to the top was beautiful.

But suddenly, as we got closer to the station where you were expected to edit, I realized that I didn’t actually know HOW to get off this thing…and the lift never stops. You were expected to just *know* how to angle your feet so that your skis would catch the ground at just the right time.

I began to panic. How DO I hold my feet? Which direction DO I go? What if I get this WRONG? Which direction is the lady sitting in the seat next to me going to go? Do I go left and she goes right? What if she decides to go left and she cuts me off? What if my feet don’t touch the ground? What if I lean forward too soon?  

The moment to exit was coming…it was unavoidable…or so you might think.

I actually avoided it.

Yes, I literally failed to exit the ski lift. My panic had been so overwhelming that I froze and did NOTHING.

Suddenly, I’m seeing that the lift is now going to go DOWN the hill at the same steep decline as it had come up and I begin completely freaking out.

Thankfully, the ski resort had safety precautions in place. They were able to pause the lift and rescue the panicked thirteen-year-old who was absolutely in tears by this point.

I was mortified but I was once again safe…and I learned a valuable life lesson: There are moments when DOING NOTHING is not an option. Sometimes ANY decision is better than no decision.

For some organizations, this COVID-19 situation is evoking that “we don’t know what to do” sense of panic that I had on the ski lift. This whole situation is new. We haven’t seen yet how to successfully disembark from the pandemic. We don’t know what the people around us are going to do and how that needs to influence our direction.

So, many organizations are “waiting” – while also not being sure how long to wait, what to expect while they wait, or how to know when to stop waiting.

As I watch all of this playing out, there is one thing that I know for sure. WAITING means you stay in the same place while the rest of the world moves. If you’re in motion, you can always course correct a bit to get back into flow, but WAITING leaves you behind.

Now, I know the question that is on your mind if you’ve read this far is…but did Joy get back on the ski lift after her mortifying experience?

Truthfully, no, I didn’t. At least not that trip. It took me a full year, until the next winter, before I tried it again. On that trip, Joy did not get stuck on the ski lift, but my cousin Mike did break his leg…which probably just goes to show that kids from Central Illinois weren’t born to be skiiers. 

How has your organization adjusted your activity due to the pandemic? Are you staying in motion? Or do you feel like you’ve got your finger hovering over the pause button?  Drop me a line and let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


How I Can Support Your Organization’s Growth Right Now:

This is a time when nearly every organization is having to pivot in some way. You’ve likely experienced enough of this pandemic already to see that change is going to be necessary, but you may not be completely clear on exactly how to make that happen.  

If you could benefit from external perspective, I’m here. If you need extra hands to make stuff happen, my team is here.

Let’s grab a time on the calendar and talk about options:

Hey there.  I’m Joy Duling, Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.

Clients hire me to help them design and deliver exceptional member experiences. If you lead an association, trade group, or membership-based nonprofit, you can find FREE resources to help you run and grow your membership organization by visiting here:

I look forward to connecting with you there.