So I randomly decided that I wanted to try my hand at skiing. This is random because historically, I have not been good at activities that involve lack of brakes, i.e. ice skating, rollerblading, etc. I am definitely not a fan of losing control. In fact, when I was five years old, my mother removed the training wheels from my bike given that she thought I was ready to ride with just two wheels. Well, I was clearly not on board with that plan so I took a wrench and put the training wheels back on myself. I was FIVE and even then I was not a fan of losing control or safety net. So with that being said, the fact that I even considered venturing out and learning to ski was a big deal.
As always, I went into planning mode. I was surprised to find that there are quite a few ski resorts in driving distance from Baltimore, many within a two-hour drive. I decided on Roundtop Mountain Ski Resort which offered a great deal on an all day package for ski rental, lift tickets, and 90-minute lessons for under $100. So this past Saturday morning, a good friend and I headed to Pennsylvania bright and early.
As we approached the mountain, the anticipation grew. I was so excited to dive into this new experience and well prepared decked out in my new ski pants and waterproof jacket (links to my gear at the bottom of the post!). Before I knew it, we had acquired our rental skis, poles, and helmets and were lined up in front of our ski instructor ready to go.
First things first, we started our ski lesson with putting on one ski and learning to move with the ski. We then progressed to putting on the second ski. Everything was going great until I found myself on the ground after placing my boot in the second ski. I hadn’t even really started the lesson and I was already on the ground. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time on the ground during these lessons but each time I got back up, I felt a renewed optimism that the next time would be better. Learning something new is never easy, especially if you are not naturally good at it. As I reflect on my first ski experience, I realize that many of the lessons I learned can be translated into life lessons.
1. Always Keep Looking Up
This was one of the first rules we were taught during our lesson. If you look down, then your body will follow and you will shortly be on the ground. But if you keep looking up, you will keep yourself upright, even if you feel like you are careening out of control. This rule is totally applicable to life. If you focus on your future aspirations and stay optimistic, you are less likely to quit. Also, if you constantly focus on your faults or why you are not as good as others, you are more likely to fail or quit. I quickly realized, if I wanted to stay upright, I should continue to “look up.”
2. Lean Forward
The proper ski stance involves slightly bending your knees and leaning forward. It seems a bit counterintuitive that you would want to lean forward while you are hurdle down a slippery incline but somehow it works. Actually, the ski boots are designed to keep you from leaning back on your heels. The same goes for life, you have to keep moving forward. No matter what may lie in your past, looking back can only bring you down. Keep leaning forward and before you know it you will have made great progress towards your goals.
3. Loosen Up
When I first started my ski lesson, I was so tense and whenever I felt uneasy, my whole body would freeze up and I would fall over like a log. I didn’t have much success until I loosened up and went with the flow. I find that this is true in many other situations in life. When you are tense, you tend to perform poorly which in turn makes you even more uncomfortable and tense. It’s a vicious cycle that you can only escape if you loosen up. Additionally, loosening up portrays a confidence in yourself that others perceive as not only confidence but competence.
4. You Can’t Do It Alone
So by the end of the day, I was well acquainted with falling down. I tried many techniques to get off of the ice cold ground: taking off one ski and trying to balance myself and stand up, taking off both skis and standing to my feet, rolling onto my stomach and doing an awkward yoga-like move to get up to my knees and then to my feet (my personal favorite). None of these techniques worked that well compared to when I had assistance. Having someone to offer a hand to help me balance made it tremendously easier to get upright. In the same way, having loyal allies and mentors can make achieving goals markedly easier. You may think that exclaiming that you did things on your own makes you more admirable but I can guarantee your journey to success will be much more enjoyable and less fraught with unnecessary mistakes when you have people to help you.
5. Never Give Up
As you may have gathered, I fell a lot! There were many times during the lesson when I was so embarrassed and just wanted to get up, take off my skis and grab a mug of hot chocolate in the lodge. Thankfully, I am too stubborn to let something like hitting the ice covered ground repeatedly keep me from pushing forward. In the same way, you can’t let obstacles and minor setbacks keep you from picking yourself up and trying again. Many highly successful people report that they had initially failures but only achieved success because they did not give up.
In the end, I started to get kind of good at making it down the bunny slope without wiping out. Now I can’t wait to go skiing again and build on my progress.
I hope this post inspires you. Feel free to share and comment below.