So I’ve always been a curious person and loved trying new things. Then at the grand age of uhumm… I decided to go skiing. ‘Holiday’ it was not…. You see I’m one for saying oh I’d love to try that and rarely with any thought for what that might involve. In this case, a trip up 1800 meters in an open, swinging chairlift, dangling high above the craggy snowy mountain, with a fear of heights.
That’s when I realised the roller coaster of emotions that is learning to ski (as a grown up, because somehow the children don’t have the same fear!). 25 novices, from across 3 generations gathered for the first lesson, the fear of the whole group was palpable. But our skilled instructors guided us through the first day learning to snow plough down and convincing us that just standing up on skis was an accomplishment we should be proud of.
But as I lurched towards consciously incompetent and entered the completely unknown, I realised our wonderful instructor, Daveeed (for he was a Spanish, David) was guiding us in other ways too. Here is what I learnt:
1. Look for the beauty, even in fear
As we stood at the top of the blue slope staring in terror at sheets of sheer ice, he convinced us to, ‘Look up at the beauty that surrounds us; the blue skies, the sunshine on the mountains, the snow…breathe deeply as we appreciate this beauty and as we go headlong forward down the slopes enjoy, enjoy, enjoy…’
2. And breathe: And then David shared, with such wisdom, ‘Never approach life with tension and hunched shoulders; relax and breathe, for it allows us to absorb life and release fear’.
3. I can, I can, I can…now repeat! We are all accomplished at something in life and it doesn’t help you and it doesn’t help others to say out loud you can’t do this and its all too hard…you can do this! (Imagine the Spanish accent; ‘You are not frightened, you are skiiers!’)
4. Look out for others: Focussing on how others are doing and offering support and feedback, means you aren’t so absorbed in your own progress: should out loud ‘We are ski-iers!’, savour and celebrate the smallest accomplishment.
5. Fake it till you make it: Just for a moment, imagine…Imagine that you are a great, experienced and confident skier and you will be.
6. Accept support; whether it is in the shape of clumpy ski boots, an uncomfortable helmet or a knowing nod from a fellow learner, appreciate the role they play in your success. David encouraged us to applaud and be grateful for our equipment and fellow supporters.
7. It’s ok to fall, it’s getting back up that counts and coming back and trying again,
8. And my favourite lesson……
Don’t ever look down…the ground is always there, the snow is always white, the sun will always come out. Look forward and focus on the direction you are aiming for and every day will be a triumph: Clearly a lesson for life!