The Snow Fence Solution To Predictable Roadblocks |

The Snow Fence Solution To Predictable Roadblocks

Published on 28 August 2017 by Charlie King | Filed in Leadership

Recently I was on a drive between Idaho Falls Idaho and Seattle. The roads are gorgeous transitioning from mountain passes to wide open plains. During my 14 hour drive, I got to see a lot of terrains. It reminded me why I love the West so much. I find myself consistently intrigued, curious and excited. I try to limit the amount of distraction while I drive, turning off music and podcasts, and limiting phone calls to the necessary. While this is a good idea from a safety perspective, I do it so I can be more aware of the invariably cool things I’ll see.

One of the things I love about driving in the rocky mountain west is snow fences. If you aren’t familiar with snow fences, allow me to describe them. They are lengths of fencing that run parallel to major highways. They can vary in length, from 100ft to more than a mile.  They’re designed to stop snow from drifting across the highway. They’re installed in the predictable areas where snow would otherwise accumulate on the highways of the West.

I can imagine the conversations that led to the invention of the snow fence:

“Well, you know, that bend at Dead Man’s Gulch has clogged with snow again… I gotta send a backhoe up there so we can open the road up again!”

“Man, I wish we could do something about that part of the road. I mean, it happens ALL THE TIME during the winter!”

“Yeah, the snow just blows over that one bluff in such a way that it collects right in the road!”

“Well, we can’t take the bluff out, so what could we do?”

“I dunno… have you ever seen snow build up in someone’s yard behind a fence? What if we did that?”

“Did what?”

“Built a fence on the side of the road to collect the snow so it wouldn’t pile up on the road?”

And thus, the snow fence was born. Often angled at 45º facing the direction of the wind, they stand like silent sentries against the coming winter storms. They are robust, often made of metal, 6-14’ tall and supported with angle braces to account for the weight of the snow they gather. The angle braces allow them to hold a lot of weight, reflecting the fact that snow is heavy when it accumulates over time. They are designed to collect and deflect snow so it doesn’t accumulate on the roads. A simple and effective fix for a persistent, predictable problem. They don’t need much upkeep, dramatically lower the cost and effort to keep roads clear of snow during the winter and can be used indefinitely.

Robust, simple solutions for persistent and predictable problems. Wow, wouldn’t having more of those in our lives be GREAT!

What had me thinking about this is the challenges I’ve always had around eating. See I’m a horrible late night binge eater. If I am not mindful, I will totally eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s without thinking about it. This isn’t a mystery to me. When I am tired, my level of resilience drops dramatically. I can have the best resolve all day long, eating just what I packed for lunch and snacks, when I need to. But, after I get home, things start to awry. We’ll all have a family dinner and unplug from our day. We get a chance to connect, chat about our day and really connect.

From there it’s dishes, and making lunches for the next day. At this point, I’m starting to wear down the last of my energy. As a 5 a.m. riser, by the time 9:00 pm rolls around, my energy is on its way to waning. The problem is that I am IN THE KITCHEN, finishing up the dishes and making lunches for the following day. I have a pantry full of goodies at my disposal, and often no supportive family members around me to remind me that an ENTIRE PINT OF ICE CREAM is probably not the best idea.

So how can the example of snow fences help me? I need my own personal snow fence. Something that will protect my intention from the predictable path of behavior. I do that several ways. I work very hard to make my lunch AS SOON AS I get home. Then there’s less likely “late night binging” because I’m done in the kitchen sooner.

However, I still have the dishes to do. Dishes are a part of my daily rhythm and I love doing them. I find washing, and loading the dishwasher therapeutic. So I make an effort to have someone in the kitchen with me to chat. Just having someone in the room with me makes me less likely to stuff my head in the ‘fridge and thrash about like a T-Rex with an eating disorder.

But like the snow fence, I need angle braces, because my night eating habits need robust structures to make sure I’m not tearing the door off the pantry like a gorilla with anger issues and a penchant for granola bars.

There are a ton of things I can do in the evenings. I love to read, plan the following day, play games with the kids, watch a favorite TV show, or frankly just go to bed. I’ve set an alarm on my phone that reminds me not to eat after 8:00 pm and I work hard to be in bed by 10:00 pm.

So how can you leverage the “snow fence” concept to your advantage? Where are places where you’re MORE predictable to fall off track where building some snow fences would serve you? And what would you do?