How skiing has helped me develop resilience and adaptability in business
Anyone who knows me well is aware that skiing is the thing that makes me happiest in life. The snappy sound of snow when it’s really cold. The intense feeling of power and grace I can feel (let's face it, this happens only on really good days, lol) when making the perfect turn. Shooting the %*&# on the chair lift with my besties, arguing about which run to do next.
The feeling of goodness and health that follow a great day of skiing, or even just a few runs. The legendary snowstorms that set up days of joy and stories of bravado and derring-do told over fondue and innumerable glasses of wine.
These are all the reasons why I ski. And why I plan to be like that 96 year old lady I saw a video of on Facebook, (gingerly) skiing her heart out and loving every minute of it.
Ha, check out the one-piece in the photo below. And no helmet. Those were the days!
The author at the top of Le Bochard lift at Les Grands Montets, Chamonix France
For skiing is not just a sport, it’s a way of life. Skiing has taught me much about resilience and how to drive constant change with grace, power and analytical skills. This has been an incredibly valuable tool in my professional life, as I have deliberately chosen roads less travelled, in order to encounter interesting and ever-changing terrain that keeps me continuously learning and improving.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to do a two-day workshop with a former coach of the French National Ski Team in Whistler. In a epiphany-laden moment, the coach explained in his delightful French accent "Zere is no such zing as ze bad snow, there is only ze bad skier". In other words, don't complain about the snow. Adjust your attitude, practice lots and all snow will become good snow.
Chamonix, Mont Blanc
Indeed, I learned the most about skiing while working as a professional skier in Chamonix, France, which is known as the most challenging lift-served skiing in the world. In a big-mountain scenario such as the legendary Les Grands Montets, many runs are a half hour long and are for expert skiers only. Depending on the time of year, you might run across open crevasses, fog, deep powder (or wet) snow, crud, packed or a combination of these things in the same run.
I recall many a day when I cursed the snow and was sure that I looked like a total fool trying to get down the hill. Every day though, I would get back up again and try to do better than I had done the last day. Over time, and often through humiliating trial and error, I learned how to negotiate all types of conditions through flexibility, positivity, adaptability, agile thinking, confidence and physical prowess. These abilities are sometimes the difference between life and death in a high-mountain scenario, and believe me, I am not exaggerating.
Hmmmm, sounds like qualities leaders need in today's business world. Is this why Shopify is building a ski campus for employees (or so the rumour goes) in Mont Ste. Marie, Quebec?
Okay, signing off, gotta get back on the hills before winter is over!
Spring skiing at Mont Ste. Marie Quebec