We are a ski family. It’s what we do together, and is what I did with my parents and siblings growing up. Recently, as I was carving down the mountain, I started thinking how skiing taught me — and is teaching my kids — some very important life lessons. Here’s my list.
- You need a plan. When you’re tackling something that is challenging, look at it and figure out how you’re going to get through it. Don’t focus on what can go wrong, but pick a line and try it out. If the first plan doesn’t work, make another plan. I can’t tell you how many times I start on a line and then need to stop and reassess where I’m going. Same goes in life. Life will throw you curve balls — or moguls, trees and rocks in this metaphor — and it’s important to stop and make a new plan instead of giving into fear and assuming you’re defeated when you come upon an obstacle.
- You’re going to need to do things that scare you. Stepping out of your comfort zone is good, and helps you improve your skills. There are still runs I face that scare the pants off of me. There are many things in life that scare me, too. But doing things that scare you is how you get better at anything in life.
- Know your boundaries. Sometimes you should push past your fears, but other times, it’s important to listen to your gut when you know you’re not ready for something. One of my proudest moments skiing with my son was when we went to the top of a double diamond all of his friends were wanting to ski, and he told me he wasn’t ready. There is no shame in hiking back out of a decision that is wrong for you in order to choose a new path.
- Sometimes you’re going to have to do things you don’t want to do. I know my kids may want to sit their underwear and watch TV all day, but someday they’ll realize that spending family time in nature while getting some great exercise is a much healthier decision.
- Stick with a buddy. Pick someone that you’ll stick with, who you’ll watch out for, and who will watch out for you. A good friend can get you through many hard times in life. You don’t have to do hard things alone.
- Help someone who has fallen or been knocked down. It makes my heart swell with pride to see my daughter stop and ask someone if they are OK or to bring them a dropped pole or a lost ski. She has seen karma repay this as strangers show her the same kindness.
- How to talk to strangers in a smart way. When my kids are skiing with their team, they ride the lift with many strangers. They’ve learned how to have a pleasant conversation with people without having to give away personal details. Small talk is an important skill, and I don’t want my kids growing up being petrified to talk to people on an airplane or a ski lift. I do want them to be smart about these conversations, in not giving away details that could put them in harm’s way, but being able to talk to someone about their favorite run of the day is a good thing.
- To be creative and adventurous. When we ski as a family, we go find adventures by cutting through the trees or trying to find that last bit of powder on the mountain. Instead of just skiing the runs like connecting the dots, we explore and find different jumps and tricks to try. In life, you don’t always have to take the predefined path that everyone else is taking.
- How to read a map. Both of my kids have trail maps that they love to read and determine which runs they have or haven’t done. My son is making a habit of highlighting all of the runs he has conquered. But they’re also learning how to read a legend, and how to figure out where something is on a map in comparison to the physical location. For kids growing up in a digital age, I think this skill is crucial.
- Introduction to driving skills. Skiing involves knowing who has the right of way, looking for traffic as you cross into a run, and watching out for yourself (i.e. defensive driving). I’m hoping that their background in skiing will have these skills ingrained in them once they start to take the wheel.
I also teach my kids the power of positive imagery when we’re skiing together. In fact, I wrote a whole post about that.
So what are you waiting for? Get my tips on how to teach kids to ski.