10 Life Lessons That I Learned on the Ski Slopes

“Lessons Will Be Repeated … Until They Are Learned”

What does skiing have to do with life? Well, skiing like life has many twists and turns. What we learn on the slopes sometimes transforms into one of life’s lessons. Skiing is tremendously fun and the lessons we learn on the slope definitely have a way of improving our skills. If you’ve every taken a ski lesson, you know there are always some nuggets of information in there that we can take away and use later to improve our skiing. Here are some life lessons that we actually picked up during our days on the slopes.

1. Invest In Yourself

Before achieving anything in life, investing in one’s self can pay dividends. When it comes to our work, family, friends, or our favourite sport (skiing), investing time and energy into ourselves has long term effects.

In business or skiing, starting the mornings off right can make a huge difference. A morning rituals build a routine. A routine builds a habit, and habits build character.

Investing in ourselves in the way of learning, teaching, studying, reading, writing, examining, training, analyzing and journaling can create substantial self improvement.

Documenting our progress is important as a tracker to our goal. Knowing what we want and investing everything we’ve got.

Sample Morning Ritual

  • 5:05am – Wake Up
  • 5:15am – Breathing Exercise
  • 5:20am – Water Plunge & Water intake
  • 5:30am – Meditation
  • 5:45am – Workout / Training
  • 7:00am – Meal / Listen to fave podcast
  • 7:30am – Active Work
  • 4:00pm – Workout / Training
  • 5:30pm – Meal / Family Time
  • 8:00pm – Ready/Study
  • 9:15pm – In Bed

Have you seen Mark Wahlberg’s morning rituals?
(What ever it takes to where you want to go)

  • 2:30 a.m. wake up
  • 2:45 a.m. prayer time
  • 3:15 a.m. breakfast #1: steel oats, peanut butter, blueberries, and eggs
  • 3:40-5:15 a.m. workout #1
  • 5:30 a.m. breakfast #2: protein shake, three turkey burgers, sweet potato
  • 6 a.m. shower
  • 7:30 a.m. golf
  • 8 a.m. snack: 10 turkey meatballs
  • 9:30 a.m. cryo chamber recovery
  • 10:30 a.m. breakfast #3: grilled chicken salad with two hard-boiled eggs, olives, avocado, cucumber, tomato, and lettuce
  • 11 a.m. family time/meetings/work calls
  • 1 p.m. lunch: New York steak with green peppers
  • 2 p.m. meetings/work calls
  • 3 p.m. pick up kids from school
  • 3:30 p.m. snack: grilled chicken with bok choy
  • 4 p.m. workout #2
  • 5 p.m. shower
  • 5:30 p.m. dinner/family time: fish (halibut or cod or sea bass) with veggies (such as sautéed spinach and bok choy)
  • 7:30 p.m. bedtime

2. Be Willing to Fail

Let’s face it, if we’re not willing to fail, we’ll never make any headway. I was chatting with a parent of a young teenager one time about how their son failed a certification course. Disappointing to say the least (trust me, I’ve been there). The parent was very upset that their 15 year old son was unsuccessful in passing the entry level ski certification. “You made my son fail the course and I want that decision reversed immediately!” I tried to explain that the information her son received before the course began actually spelled out all the requirements to become successful on the course. It was also explained that the 3 day course was not dependent on one particular run, but rather part of an entire 3 day ongoing evaluation.

Well, he should pass anyway because….. wait for it….he’s never failed anything in his life and he’s not about to start now!

The course was laid out to develop skiers throughout the 3 days and it was clear the son was not at all ready to take the course. I offered a full refund and a future opportunity to come back when more prepared.

Clearly, “failure” was not part of the success-path. Hey, it’s only a theory, but like most things in business, skiing and life, we must stumble occasionally to understand the correct path. (Refer to “The Race” attributed to Dr. D.H. “Dee” Groberg)

The faster you experience failures and bumps in the road, the quicker you’ll get to your destination.

3. Find A Mentor

Finding a mentor can be a process. Discovering the right one takes time but it will be worth it. In skiing, we look for input from all sources from videos, photos, on-snow instruction and chats in the chalet.

Experiment with different leaders and helpers to find someone willing to share their knowledge and energy. Mentors create a clear path and methodology to get us to where we want to go. This usually happens quicker and avoids a lot of wasted time.

Once you find that mentor, absorb all that you can. Asking questions and experimenting throughout the process will help. One factor that seems to work well when working with a mentor is the ability to submit our egos. The mentor has already gone through what we need to accomplish. We don’t have to follow them blindly, but know that they have already proven it can be done by the approach and method they’ve implemented. Keep an open mind.

Whether it’s on the slopes or in business, the path to success can become much more streamlined and quicker when we acquire a mentor.

We often disregard the fact that the leaders in our industry or on the slopes have put in massive amount of hours to study, test, examine, teach, session and train. We once tried to put a dollar figure on all of our training to date and after we fell off our chairs in the bar, it turned out to be a very sizeable amount.

Years of trial and error, injury, failed exams, and lessons repeated because we didn’t learn the proper technique or process. This is an opportunity to leverage the time that our mentors have invested in their pursuit.

Whether it’s in business, skiing or life, leveraging your mentors time pays dividends. All the books, lessons, sessions, off-season training, trial & error attempts and nuggets along the way can be trained directly from our mentors.

It’s one thing to study ‘on-your-own’, but there’s magic in the one-on-one training that comes from our mentors. Don’t let the excuse of: “I don’t have enough money or time to hire a mentor” In today’s world, virtual mentors can go a long way. Their time is valuable so setting up specific guidelines and deadlines can all be done virtually. (p.s. I’m meeting on my weekly Zoom call tonight with my ski mentor & trainer)

I personally don’t know where I’d be in business if it wasn’t for the mentors in my life. I would still be fumbling along wondering how they do it?


4. Focus


In today’s world, there are many distractions. For those who are ambitious, wanting to get into every appealing goal can be a trap. Instead of training with three or four ski trainers, become focused on one we connect with.


Making our goals clear is one thing, but choosing the top priorities to get there is another. Perhaps a focus on one major goal per year. I know when I tried to accomplish all nine components of a training exam all in one month, it didn’t work. Now, we’re training in modules and components that are more”bite size” and manageable.

Staying In Your Bubble – Blocking out the Distraction

A conversation I had last night about focus and being able to ‘stay in your bubble’ without distraction seemed very applicable in skiing and in life.

A quick and simple approach to remained focused at a critical time (Ski Exams, Boardroom presentation, kid’s music recital) is as follows:

  1. Recognize that a distraction exists (A noise, someone speaking, etc)
  2. Absolve yourself from that influence
    1. Physically face the distraction (person) and slow your breathing to say in a calm voice: “Thank you, but I can’t listen to that right now” and turn away.
    2. We’ve all heard the expression: “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you handle it”
  3. Watch that distraction pass you by.

5. Never Stop Learning

The mind is a funny thing. We recently asked the question of what we REALLY love doing on a daily basis. Some of said skiing, some said figuring out a problem at work, and others said sending time with friends and family. What ever your “WHY” is, find out what tools and resources are going to help you get there.

I found continued education was my one-resource that I couldn’t do without. I’m alway reading, studying, trying to master the task. There’s great satisfaction in studying and learning.

The best food for this is Humble Pie. Sometimes, you’re on the slope with some excellent skiers and you may know more than them, but there’s always an opportunity to learn something. The moment we think we’re the smartest in the room or on the slopes… you’re done ! If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

6. Don’t Over Think It

I was always astounded in listening to different leaders in skiing and in business. Some were very simple in their approach, and others were extremely detailed and complicated.

Skiing, like life, is a continuously moving animal. The best ski runs I’ve ever had were when I wasn’t thinking. My thoughts were not internal about where to place my hands or move my ankles. Business is not about spending 3 hours on knowing how to move the spreadsheet column over 1/3 centimetre so it lines up for Friday’s boardroom presentation.

We have an expression on the slopes that goes something like this: “Don’t worry about that turn. That happened two turns ago.” If you’re thinking about the details, it’s too late.

Paralysis by analysis can slow our progress. When we stop trying to make everything perfect and get out of our heads, things will progress. Remember, perfectionism is the enemy of progress.

We have an expression on the slopes that goes something like this: “Don’t worry about that turn. That happened two turns ago.” If you’re thinking about the details, it’s too late.

Boating anyone?

Another example of thinking too much about the micro details is when my friend and I were boating in a very fast boat. At the time, there was not GPS or Garman-Plotter. It was good old fashion maps. Now picture this, the pathway through the small islands was tricky and very shallow. Precise navigation between the visible markers was essential. One thing I thought I had to do to be precise and exact through this narrow boating obstacle course was to provide exact directions at a precise moment… NOT !

84 mph, what could go wrong?

The boat was going SO fast that the map was blowing back onto my face. If only we capture that on camera… I was SO caught up in trying to be perfect, that we went on the WRONG side of the channel marker and almost ran aground.

Sometimes, we overthink things and don’t go with the flow. The remedy on our boating obstacle course was to ditch the map, relax and look far ahead. I simply let go and pointed to where we needed to go next.

Completing visualization exercises prior to hitting the slopes can create a very vivid imagery that will make the day on the slopes much more intuitive. We’re not thinking about a particular body part at a specific part in the turn, we’re just “doing”.

In skiing and in life, trust your training and give your brain credit for knowing what to do. Focusing on what’s going well, and not getting caught in all the details will make your skiing going much smoother and your business meeting seem much simpler to understand or deliver.

7. Persistence

Persistent action can have a lasting outcome. A compound effect starts with choices. Choices create habits, habits create momentum, momentum is influenced by input/association/environment, and influences affect acceleration towards our goals.

Over a week or month, we may not see the effects of daily habits, but over time, our persistence will have a lasting effect. 1

8. Be Adaptable

In skiing and in business, having the ability to pivot (quickly) can be very powerful. Being too strong headed and unwilling to try new approaches or coaches, or methods can keep us in a rut.

Recognize that what we’re doing at this moment in time is Not working, and change our approach. If it’s not working, change it. If our business if failing, pivot; if our skiing is not improving, add or change our training tactics.

It’s hard to change mid stream, but better to change than realize much later when it’s too late.

9. Be Resourceful

“Excuses” are like assholes. Everyone has them and they’re full of S*@#. If we’re going to achieve our goals, we have to become resourceful. We may not have all the time and money and resources in the world, so we have to dig deep and find what’s going to work for us.

Ask for help from a friend, do research on our own, solicit the help of a mentor, consider networking more, or volunteer in your chosen area.

We won’t think back on all the obstacles along our journey, just the triumphs.

10. Enjoy Your Journey

Despite all the hurdles along the way, take time to enjoy the journey. Help others celebrate their successes and help them enjoy their paths. Recognize other’s accomplishments and help them along the way.

Enjoying our journeys is what it’s all about. In a lot of cases, it’s not the end goal or prize that we most cherish, but rather the road along the way.

Success doesn’t create character, it reveals it. Enjoy the journey !


  1. Invest in yourself 
  2. Be willing to fail
  3. Get a mentor – You can’t do it alone
  4. Focus
  5. Never Stop Learning
  6. Don’t overthink it, just do it
  7. Be Persistent / Steady / Consistent
  8. Be Adaptable – Be willing to change
  9. Be Resourceful
  10. Enjoy the journey


  • 1The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy1

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