I was up and out hiking early one morning, getting on the trail about 6:30A. There were more people out than normal and as I started down my favorite path, a couple began to follow me, which of course is fine, but I wanted some solitude and frankly wanted to let my dog, Jada run off leash and burn off her energy. So, I saw a short side path that I had always assumed was a dead end for fisherman to settle in close to the water. It was a gateway to a part of the timber that I had never been. I ended up finding this manicured, but untraveled road which I walked for about a mile. All of a sudden it all opened up to this beautiful forest and there are sap buckets everywhere. Hundreds of them. Really cool find.

Later, the road turns in to a very long hill, which would be fine but it is still covered in ice. So, I turn around and head back down. Then I see it. A “shortcut” back to the main trail. It is a deer path, about 18″ wide that borders the very edge of the bluff. Now, I know I will likely hit a couple of bad spots, but how bad can it be? Deer’s do it….

First 200 feet, all is great. It rounds the bend of the bluff (I am about 30 ft. up and there is water at the bottom.) All of a sudden my 18″ path turns in to a 6″ path. Jada is ahead of me and naturally she is just trotting a long, jumping over the rough spots. Well, rough spots aren’t bad if you actually have a trail, but 6″ does not a trail make. At one point I slip on ice but catch myself by going down on all fours and grabbing handfuls of dried grass. Feeling pretty good. I start to get up by placing my hands, palms down flat, still hanging on to the grass, and get my feet under me. This stance results in my butt being in the air while I steady myself. Those of you that have dogs know, fore paws down and butt up is the universal dog sign of “Let’s wrestle.”

I look up and 75 pounds of hair has turned around and is staring at me with big, wide, happy eyes. For some reason, I just couldn’t speak. To say “No, stay, sit, stop…just wasn’t happening. All I could think of was “I hope I don’t die.” Jada comes barreling at me and at the last moments I yelled, “NO!” She jumps over me landing behind me, like a chubby ballet dancer on a balance beam. But “lab crazies” just have to burn themselves out. (Labs get so much adrenaline they have to run at full speed in large circles to burn off the energy. You really can’t stop them once they start, as the dog is just going nuts.) I look behind me and she has went half way up the hill and she is rounding a tree and heading back down at full speed, slipping and sliding the whole time. This went on for 3 jumps. All I could do was pull my shoulders in, head down and hope she didn’t land on me and we would both go over. Nope.

On the last jump she ends up in front and just starts walking on about her way. I get upright, get off the deer trail and lift her face up to mine and tell her she is an insane beast and that we will at some point die together. To which she responds with a wet French kiss right on my mouth.

Good times.

After it was all over I started to laugh about how much that entire event reminded me of owning a business. It all seems rosy and fun in the beginning. You take some risks that turn out to be much bigger challenges that you expected. One day, you look up and a situation is barreling down on top of you and all you can do is duck and weather the potential impact. Then, all of a sudden you look up, and your client or employees are smiling at you and you are getting up and moving forward again.

I have learned a lot in 5 years. The most important lessons are to

1) Be resilient.

2) Don’t borrow trouble.

3) Don’t turn back. Stabilize, stand up and move forward.

Turning around should never be an option.

-Betsy McCloskey, Partner/Principal