How Does an Entrepreneur Turned Inventor Achieve Success? Intuition.

I think every entrepreneur hits this moment in their life where they ask the question: what am I doing? If you ever taken a risk on yourself, you’ll be able to relate. Whether that’s switching careers, applying for a new job, moving to a new city or traveling to a country by yourself – we’ve all had this question run across our minds. And I think that means you are on the right track.  It’s always in the most uncertain times that we discover more about ourselves, more about our purpose and our journey. My grandfather, an entrepreneur himself, surely asked this question when he decided to design his own outriggers. Ski down a mountain on one leg? Sounds crazy for the 1940s and 50s. Can you just imagine the staring? The judging? The pointing? The effort to get up the hill with no chairlifts? And the spectacle that might be? But he didn’t care. He wanted to pursue something new, something that lit a fire within him and that something was skiing.

Paul Leimkuehler never planned to be an inventor, but that’s what he became. He designed his own artificial leg and went on to design thousands more after that. And when the calling to came to ski down a mountain, even though he wasn’t sure how exactly it would work—he answered it. Paul and his friend Stan Zakas worked together, sawing children’s skis in half to create what was essentially a crutch with a small ski attached to the bottom. The result? An outrigger. But back then, it was just a way for a guy to ski down a slope on one ski.

We make decisions every day. Some small, small big and some whose true impact we will never know. I think my grandfather had no idea in that moment when he decided, “Yes, I’m going to do this. I’m going to design something I can ski on,” that it would not only change his life, but the lives of others for years to come. But isn’t that how it always goes when you listen to yourself and your intuition? Your discovery will always turn out grander than you expect, even if you don’t know it in the moment.

Paul Leimkuehler Vail

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