I was 28 the first time I put on snow skis. I “learned” to ski on man-made ice in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.
When I went to Aspen two years ago, I learned why skiing out west is different – A LOT different – than skiing out east. I’ll break it down to the difference between powder and ice. Powder is awesome. It looks like glitter when the sun is reflecting off it. Plus it hurts a whole lot less than ice when you fall. Another reason I prefer west coast skiing? When I’m out west I just feel like I’m more on vacation since I’m farther from my New York City home.
So, when my family embarked on our Colorado adventure to Avon/Beaver Creek (near Vail) earlier this month, I knew skiing would be part of my experience (that’s me and my husband Steven pictured above before we rode the gondola to the ski lift). I was excited … and a bit nervous because I consider myself a beginner and know I have a lot to learn.
Being a beginner is humbling. You’re on your butt a lot. You’re not quite sure what to do with all of the directions swimming around in your head. You’re out of your element. You’re kinda freaking out. You’re mostly surrounded by people who are much better than you (including LOTS of 5-year-old kids who fly down the mountain with no fear and no poles!). And there are times when you want to give up.
In the midst of it all, I had a major revelation:
Skiing is an extreme metaphor for life. The lessons are amazingly relevant for showing up and playing big.
Here are my top 9 lessons learned from When in Rome (or Colorado): SKIING EDITION. Enjoy …
1. A guide makes the journey much easier
I fell on my butt about 5 times during my ski adventure. And all of the those falls were when I was skiing on my own … and NOT with my ski instructors. Now I’m not saying that falling is bad (it’s a great way to learn), but working with guides can make your journey much more powerful and enjoyable and much less scary. Even really advanced skiers often work with ski instructors to help them strengthen their skills and become even better. Who’s guiding you?
2. Wave to the people
This was one of the cues my ski instructor gave me to help me remember which pole to lift during a turn. I was having a really hard time remembering the pole instructions (right and left seem to blend when I’m skiing fast and freezing!) until he came up with this easy concept. All of the sudden the idea clicked and I wrapped my head around the instruction.
If you’re grappling with something, come up with a way to make it easy for your mind to absorb it. We all have different learning styles, experiment with what works for you.
3. Be prepared: The right gear is crucial
“There is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices.” I heard this on my journey and I have to agree (especially as the tips of my fingers felt like they might fall off until I put hand warmers in my gloves!). No matter what your situation, be prepared. Don’t complain about the things you can’t control … focus on the things that you can. Use your energy in the most constructive, effective way possible.
4. Don’t worry about the people behind you
When skiing, you’re always going to have people coming up behind you and beside you. While you need to be mindful of your actions, you can’t waste your time worrying what people behind you are doing (or saying about you). Just do your thing, be respectful, be smart, be brave … and you’ll be fine.
5. Look around, not down
As a beginner, I had a tendency to look DOWN at my skis and miss everything around me, including the cues my body was sending me and the beautiful scenery. I was afraid to trust my skis and my surroundings. Once I learned to lift my gaze and start looking around at my total environment, I started having fun, letting loose, and … (drum roll, please): SKIING.
Play around with shifting your perspective. What do you see?
6. Chocolate makes things better
Beaver Creek Resort has an awesome tradition that I can’t wait to experience again: warm chocolate chip cookies distributed by chefs (for free!) at the bottom of the ski slopes every afternoon. I’m telling you … people were on Cloud 9 after these treats. What I found so endearing is how much these treats were loved by people of all ages. They were a great connector … and a great brand builder by the resort. Chocolate = happiness. This savvy branding technique will bring people back for more and make the resort town stand out in people’s minds.
What’s your brand (personal or business)? How are you building connections with your tribe?
7. Rest at the end of the day
There’s nothing better than taking your ski boots off at the end of a great day on the slopes. You feel such a sense of accomplishment. When you work hard and really push yourself, you’ve earned a break. Take it. Rest is important to playing big. Protecting your downtime is essential in creating a kick-ass life.
8. It’s never too late to start
Think you’ve missed the boat because you’re ____ years old (fill in the blank) and haven’t tried so-and-so or pursued a passion? Think again. That is one of the biggest excuses (and travesties!) holding you back from living a life full of passion and adventure. Today is a perfect day to start. If not now, when?
9. A family that plays together stays together
Play, play, and play some more! For us Fenigs, ski trips are now a part of our annual winter experience. I didn’t go on ski trips as a kid so these trips as an adult are somewhat out of my comfort zone, but I’m loving it. Growth can be quite uncomfortable at times … but so freaking exciting.
Create family traditions that are uniquely yours. Children and adults can come to look forward to these regular occurrences. There is a comfort, a clarity, a sense of security that comes from traditions that you create and protect.
You’re in charge. How cool is that?
* So, I’m curious … which one of these lessons resonated most with you? Which one are you most excited to play around with? Join the discussion below. See you there!