Way back in 1988, a writer/minister/modern-day philosopher named Robert Fulghum wrote a great book called All I need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It was a collection of essays that took its title from the first essay about life lessons learned as a child. It was a mega-bestseller that seemed to touch every corner of popular culture at the time, including, I might add, an original theatrical production developed right here in Roanoke, Virginia, making its debut at Mill Mountain Theatre.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been finalizing the details of my annual ski trip. That got me reflecting on the lessons that skiing has to offer — lessons about life, business, relationships and more. So, here is my summary of All I Need to Know I Learned on the Ski Slopes:
• You will fall down. Everyone does. It’s OK, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is that you get right up, brush yourself off, and get moving again. It’s a bonus if you learn something from the fall and become a better skier.
• There’s a reason they rate and mark all the trails and the off-limits terrain. No one can be expected to know and master everything in life or business. It’s important to figure out what you can do and what is off-limits. Sometimes you can take a lesson to learn new things, other times you need to delegate tasks to specialists who have skills that you don’t have.
• The vast majority of people on the slopes are friendly and personable folks who are just as happy as you are to be spending the day doing something fun. Once in a while, however, you will encounter an inconsiderate jerk — the kind that cuts in on a lift line or goes way too fast in a congested area or smokes and uses foul language on the chairlift when children are around. Life and business also include run-ins with ill-mannered and even unscrupulous people. Don’t let them ruin your day and don’t ever descend to their level.
• You have to be prepared for whatever the mountain throws at you. Don’t skimp on certain gear, like good gloves, ski pants, goggles, and boots that fit just right or you’ll end up cold, miserable and sore. Likewise, it’s important to prepare for big decisions in life by doing your homework, knowing the facts, reflecting carefully on your options, seeking guidance when appropriate and making good choices.
• Go at your own pace. Some skiers stop to rest more often. Some ski fast. Others go slow and carve more turns in the snow. Some like to get out early for first tracks in the powder. Some sleep later and stay out until they close down the lifts. If you’re part of a group that includes all of the above, don’t try too hard to keep up with someone and definitely don’t hold someone else back. This is what diversity and tolerance are all about. We can all meet up later for social hour. That’s what Apres Ski is all about.
• Enjoy the views and treasure every turn. Life is short. You should love what you’re doing and do what you love.