“Weight on the walley ski”

His first name was Jonathan. 35 years later, I don’t remember his last name or much more about him. We were on a spring vacation ski trip to Utah with a small group from UCLA Anderson and he kept repeating”weight on the walley ski “as we made turns down the hill. When we untangled the origin of the quote it was a French ski instructor who used to insist that he lean downhill towards the valley below to keep up both speed and balance.

People use sports analogies all the time assuming everyone gets the references. But do they?

Several times in the last week I’ve heard news commentators talking about some one getting over their skis. I had to stop and take apart what they may mean by that. And, I ski. Why are they using analogies that even a skier has to take apart to get their drift?

in business, we use a lot of sports analogies to make a point. We assume the audience is in the know. Or that the “cool people” get the point. I’m guessing that you were as confused as I was about Jonathan’s comment. You probably don’t ski either and aren’t particularly interested in the finer points of perfecting your swoosh, so it is even more annoying.

I think we need to look at all the other sports analogies that  we use to make points that may not actually communicate well with our audiences, especially our teams. Unless you make or sell golf equipment, don’t be sure your team knows what it means to take a mulligan. Or football: There he goes again with another Hail Mary pass. Or baseball, or hockey. You probably have dozens that you use without a thought that it might not resonate with the listener. Many times they make an excellent point. Go ahead and use the phrase, but plan on explaining it if you want everyone to get your point. Great communication is not what you said, but what they heard. Besides, if you can make it into a memorable story, you never forget it. Even 35 years later.