Navigating the moguls of life

Column by Michael Norton


Have you ever watched a really accomplished skier as he or she skied the moguls? They make it look easy as they seem to gracefully maneuver the bumps, have no wasted motions, all muscle groups are working in harmony, and they just look technically perfect and simply incredible.

Then, have you ever observed an intermediate skier tackling that same terrain? They move slower, seem to try and go around each mogul, stop frequently, and in some cases find themselves sliding down the mountain, out of their gear after trying a little harder or getting a little more aggressive. And then they get up, usually with a little assistance, and continue to work their way down the mountain.

In either case, whether we are extremely proficient or working on getting there, when we have spent some time in the bumps, and move on to find one of those intermediate groomed blue cruisers, we feel better about ourselves and our ability, we may even feel awesome as our confidence soars.

I am not sure about you, but for me I have experienced this same feeling in other areas of my life as well. No one is an expert at anything before they learn a skill, develop a talent, and take the time to practice. It is in the practice where we make the most strides and advancements of our skills and talents.

As a young salesman responsible for developing a territory and cold calling I had to learn the communication skills necessary to open doors and opportunities. It was only after many cold calls and knocking on doors that I developed the skills and confidence to become truly effective. But opening doors was only the first part, I then had to learn how to speak to senior level executives and present in big intimidating boardrooms. The first few times I can tell you felt like I was a beginner who found himself on a double black diamond ski run loaded with moguls. I was coming unglued and definitely wasting motions, wasting time, and losing more than I was winning.

Each prospect was different and when I found myself having to present to smaller groups or someone in a less intimidating role, I found myself gaining confidence. The more I failed in those larger meetings, the more I learned. The more I practiced with smaller customers the better I became at selling to larger clients and in complex selling situations.

There is an old saying that goes something like, “The fruit we enjoy at the mountain top was grown in the valley.” And it is so true in all areas of our lives. So whether it is getting into the moguls or bumps on the mountain or just stretching yourself a little more, remember that our growth does happen in the valley.

I would love to hear all about your times in the valley and on the mountaintop. Together let's make it a better than good week.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Zigar organization and CEO and founder of He can be reached at


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