Are You Out Over Your Skis?

For those of you who know me, you might know that I LOVE clichés, figures of speech and kitschy sayings. What you might NOT know about me is that I do not ski. To me, skiing is a bizarre past time in which people strap little sticks of wood to the bottoms of their feet and hurtle themselves down a mountain covered with slippery ice and snow. Are you KIDDING me? That is just straight up crazy.

So I was recently introduced (by a client) to this phrase, “He’s over his skis.” I took it to mean that he was over his head or trying to do more than he was capable of. But I decided to consult the always reliable and 100 percent true internet to see what the accepted definition was. And I got a couple of different interpretations. says that it means that “you are engaged with situations above your pay grade.” OK—but that’s actually a pretty cool situation to be in in that you can learn a lot from doing stuff that is a little beyond you, as long as you have support, guidance, and are not risking messing something up majorly.

Urban Dictionary has a different take. “To get entirely too far ahead of yourself”—To me, this has a different feel to it—you can get ahead of yourself in your thinking or your actions; and this does not necessarily have a specific business application to it.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s say it is a general sense of getting overwhelmed; a state in which you start to feel that you may not be able to handle everything that is coming at you at present.

I have to produce more than 20 hours of presentation content from scratch that has to be delivered between now and the end of April. Hence trying to put a name to the deep dark fear and terror that I am facing every moment that I spend working, thinking about work, or preparing to work or think about work. Feel me?

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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  • Andre Palko

    As a brand new ski student at the ripe young age of 56 (now THAT’S crazy!) the term has a different meaning. I am being taught by instructors to lean forward ‘over your skis’ in order to stay in control. When you lean back (which is the natural instinct) you lose control. "Keep your weight forward, over your skis."

    So, I’m still not sure of the etymology of ‘over his skis’ but for me personally, it means to be in control of the situation. Sounds like the spot you’d rather be in anyway!

  • Quinoa1111

    I am a skier and for the most part your client is correct. Although the metaphor from skiing to a life analogy is not perfect, it really does mean you are in over your head as of potential for disaster or crashing if on skis. If a skier takes on a slope well above their level the tendency is to get over their skis which then leads to bad things.