Life lessons from ski

Do you focus on what’s immediately in front of you, or do you keep your look on the future, on the horizon, the bigger picture?

I had a private ski lesson that taught me some important life lessons.

1. First of all, even if you are already a very experienced skier, you can still benefit from the tips of an expert. No matter how successful you are in life, you always benefit from personal development and the perspective of an objective outsider. That can be a ski teacher or a coach who remarks the things that are in your ‘blind spot’ and asks the questions you never ask yourself. Thanks to Pierre Raisson for the following insights.


2. Keep your head up and your gaze on the horizon. If you focus on your feet/skis, your head will be bent forward and down, giving you the wrong posture to maintain your balance. Also, looking at ‘the immediate problem ahead’, will make you miss the bigger picture (sounds familiar?). On the other hand, when you focus on the horizon, you will be able to plan your journey down the mountain, while your peripheral vision ensures you will still be aware of people and bumps directly in front of you. In ‘real life’ this translates to the difference between important and urgent. If you allow yourself to be led by urgent tasks and emergencies, you will never have time to focus on the important stuff, that may be less urgent. However, if you focus on the important stuff and plan that in your schedule, then you will automatically also deal with the urgent stuff.

3. Turns are made from your upper body. Instead of forcing turns with the strength of your legs or hips, turns are made almost effortlessly when initiated from your upper body. The part of your torso where your arms are, is the heaviest part of your body. if you move that, the rest will follow automatically. If you use the upward and downward motion by extending your legs before a curve and bending them just after, you increase the natural flow that makes your moves perfectly synchronized and most effective. It tried it and it really works. Skiing this way feels more like dancing… Find the easy, natural way. Many things in life can be done easier and more in flow, when you watch how experts or specialists do them. If you feel you are getting things done by sheer will power or force, search for an alternative that is more natural. From the outside it looks the same, the process is much more effortless.

4. Create a ‘flight plan’. While you have the overview of the entire piste, read the terrain and plan your journey ahead. With this new way of skiing, with your head and upper body up straight and your arms slightly raised to your sides, skiing feels more like dancing or even flying. You planning your descent is in fact creating a ‘flight plan’, where the only important touch points are the take off point and the touch down point. If you look at it that way, what happens on the ground while you fly over it, doesn’t really matter. A great way not to be distracted, or scared off, by the details.

5.  You can’t really predict the slope under your feet because of the bumps, icy sections and skier tracks, so you have to be flexible, allowing your knees to go up and down depending on your path. Same with life…be flexible with what comes in your path. If you are too stiff you will fall.

6. Don’t focus on the speed. If you are scared of the speed, don’t watch the ground passing under your feet as you ski. It will scare you and your body will react by contracting. With your eyes on the horizon, however, you don’t feel the speed as much and can concentrate better on the bigger picture. Knowing the theory behind this, will help to ease your mind and will give you an alternative to panicking.

Life lessons from tango and aquarel

Remarkably, these are lessons that I also learned from my tango dance teacher and during lessons in watercolor painting. What ‘life lessons’ can you distill from your hobby or a totally different expertise?

If you live life open and curious, ready to learn and explore, I think that is true freedom.

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