I spent the last week at Momentum Ski Camp. It was their “adult” week. Momentum is a mogul and terrain park ski camp that leverages some of the best skiers in the world as coaches to help clowns like me get better. When I say some of the best skiers in the world, I mean it. Look at this list:
Mikael Kingsbury – Silver Medalist Sochi Olympics Moguls, 2 Time World Champion and 6 Time World Cup Champion
James “Woodsy” Woods – Current Olympian, 1 World Cup Win, Silver in the World Championship and Winter X Games Gold Medalist
Phillipe Marquis – 9th in Sochi Olympics, 2 World Cup wins and currently ranked 4th in the World.
TJ Shiller – Winter X Games Gold Medalist in 2010
John Smart – The owner, was an Olympian in Lillehammer in 1994
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. The coaches at momentum are the best skiers in the world, and it’s why I’ve gone 3 out of the past 5 years.
This year was a difficult one for me. I didn’t ski well. I struggled to link turns consistently down the fall line. I blew out of the course several times. I was in the backseat way too often. My absorption was terrible; I was a mess most of the week. Except for a few bright spots, I didn’t ski well.
In spite of the difficulties, I believe this was probably my most productive camp, and my only regret is that ski season is still five months away.
Why was this a successful camp for me even though I wasn’t skiing well?
It’s because I WASN’T SKIING WELL. That is why it WAS a good camp for me. My struggles were because I was changing so much of my skiing style that poor skiing was inevitable. I had to get worse to get better and in lies the lesson.
Getting better requires getting worse sometimes. It requires we go backward. It demands that we digress to get better and the digression doesn’t feel good. It’s humbling to do something poorly; you’ve done well for so long. It’s humbling to look silly or not feel in control when you’re used to being in control and looking like a bad ass. I had too many runs that looked like this, rather than like the picture up top.
I talk a lot about becoming a 1%er. A 1%er is being better than 99 out of 100 people. The 1%er journey requires the humility to go backward, to look silly, to not be at the top of your game when getting better.
Too few of us are willing to expose ourselves to that level of discomfort. Once we get to a certain degree of competency, the idea of looking incompetent is too overwhelming. We run from it, rather than embrace it. We convince ourselves we are great, that our years of experience are proof positive we’re at the top of our game and that we don’t need to grow, change or expand our skill set. We’re already great; we don’t need to learn anything else.
There is nothing further from the truth.
Getting better requires the humility to get worse. It requires being comfortable being uncomfortable. Being a 1%er means we are competing with ourselves, not with those around us. It means we have the confidence and self-awareness to know we’re making progress even when it LOOKS like we’re not.
I spent a week skiing like a novice mogul skier, and it was humbling and at times embarrassing. There were a few times I wanted to “quit.” I was mortified and felt stupid. In the end, however, I just kept reminding myself; this bumpy road is the path towards greater skiing. It’s the only way I can get to the next level. And as I long as I am focused on me and my goal and isn’t focused on what everyone else is thinking or how often I messed up, I’d be okay. Therefore, I just kept skiing.
Becoming GREAT is a journey of not just hustle and grind, and hard work, but also a massive dose of humility. The humility to look like you don’t know what you’re doing, even though you do.
How many of you are comfortable looking bad to get good? I’m curious.
I learned a shitload this year and can’t wait to get back on the snow to deliberately practice. It’s gonna be a kick-ass ski year.