Tuesday, February 10, 2015

6 Business and Life Lessons I Live and Love from Skiing

I feel most ALIVE when I ski.   Free, strong, connected, competent, challenged, fully engaged and pretty badass.  I can say that because I worked hard to ski well.  But skiing for me is so much more than athletic.  The principles of skiing are a way of life I aspire to.

Sir Edmund Hillary nailed it on conquering mountains - and ourselves.

Reflecting on my recent Colorado trip, I've landed on six key life lessons I live and love from Skiing. I hope you enjoy the metaphors…

1. Invest in what makes you feel most alive. Often. The dividends pay off long after leaving the slopes in the currency of confidence, clarity, joy, and relationship. 

2. There's no where else to be on the mountain except where you are.  As in life. Practice being present. Take in the scenery.  Inhale the crisp, clean air.  Notice how it feels to feel cold, exhilarated, nervous, proud of the terrain you've mastered - and the terrain that's mastered you. Both are equally important. Accept them. There's absolutely no way to get where you're going without being where you are.  

Delight in the rush of conquering something much bigger than you are.    Being in the mountains reminds me of how small I am. And also how much power I carry to be able to participate with something so big, mysterious and powerful.  We often think we're either big OR small, powerful OR weak.  We're always both.  Embrace and enjoy your greatness and your smallness.

4. Respect the bumps - they're what you climb on.  Moguls are tricky things; dangerous, exhausting, and harder to master than the open straightaways. They're also what keeps us from barreling down a steep-grade slope uncontrollably. Without them, it's easy to spin out of control. We spend so much time avoiding life's bumps, looking for the easy path, resisting where we are and living for solutions vs. living our problems, living our lives! What did success ever teach anyone?  It's the bumpy parts that are inevitable and make us our best.  They are the building blocks of success!  Learn how to be comfortable on them.

5. Finish the run. It's the end of the day. Your legs are burning, you're dehydrated, the wind has ripped your nose raw, and your right foot's cramped from the white elephant Rossi boot a slick salesman convinced you to purchase 10 years ago (true story)…. Don't give up. Stick to your technique.  Breathe deeply.  Smile, sing, turn on your favorite jam (my ski playlist is sa-cred; more on that later).  Ski hard until the last run is done.  
Finish well.  Then celebrate it well.  You'll reap the rewards...at the least in killer toned legs.

...And my personal favorite….
Dreaming on the last mile home, Beaver Creek, CO. 2.7.15.  Photo by Matt Lewis

6. Ski in the front of your boots.  It's tempting to lean backwards when going down a mountain. Leaning forward and downhill is counter-intuitive, right? Wrong. Leaning backwards from the challenge throws you off balance, makes you positioned to fall, feel (and look) ridiculous, and exhausts you by fighting gravity. Instead, work with gravity.  
Let it take you forward.  Lean into the mountain - AND your fear.  Lean in with a firm, balanced stance, arms, feet and eyes forward, and you'll get a rather effortless performance.  I know, it's a deliberate mindset shift.  It's the right mindset.   Novice or expert, you're going to fall. So when you fall, fall forward.