\"zermattSitting on the train on the way back from a great skiing trip to Zermatt with my daughter Alice, brother in-law and nephew George, I was reflecting on what insights and lessons I had learned this week.  I am a great believer in the fact that there is always something to learn from your experiences and feel strongly that it is a great discipline to get into.  I am trying hard to always learn from an experience, be it a failure or a success and have a simple 4 step process that I try and employ on a regular basis.

  • What was great and went really well? (always start with the positives)
  • What could have been better or could be improved?
  • What ideas have you got for making a difference the next time?
  • What actions are you going to take? – really important, even if it is just one concrete action!

We have had a great week – weather has been fantastic, plenty of snow and a chance to rejuvenate the mind (not so sure about the body, my legs certainly feel a little stiff!) So what insights and actions am I taking away from the week?

Lesson 1 – if you want to improve your ability you need the humility to be open to learning from \"georgesomeone better.  Now my nephew is a phenomenal skier, truly talented, but he is also a 17 year old lad with all the characteristics of the breed. Our first couple of runs had him shouting the odds and laughing as I tried to keep up, but I soon realised that was useless and decided to swallow my pride and ask for some help and support instead.  This was an interesting dynamic and genuinely felt a little odd; I am the Uncle and Godfather whose role is to develop, nurture and help grow.  I wrote in my last blog about how we could all ask for help more often, and this was a case in point.  To be fair to George, he was as good as gold, and with a little gentle mickey taking he gave me advice, guidance and the weight of his experience. The net result was my skiing improved no end – words of encouragement and support and gentle chastisement when I got it wrong really accelerated my improvement.  Interestingly Alice and George slipped straight into the teacher / pupil relationship – being almost the same age and great friends it was an easy and natural relationship that helped them both.

Lesson 2 – to go slower and be in control in life you sometimes need to go faster.  Skiing is an interesting sport and for those of you that ski I am sure you will appreciate the temptation on a steep slope to act with caution.  Unfortunately this is exactly what will get you into trouble and I think the same can often be said of life in general.  To act decisively, with intention and conviction means that you are more likely to succeed and do a better job – you may well have made the wrong decision or tackled the wrong challenge, but you executed it effectively.  It is the same with skiing – the secret to skiing is to keep your upper body facing down the slope – a tad counter intuitive when you are on the cusp of the steepest Black Run in Zermatt.  If you face down the slope and ski with intent you are able to get your skis to grip better and whilst it may feel faster, it is actually far more controlled.  So the next time you are faced with a challenge, tackle it head on, with intent and surprise yourself with how easy you made something that felt so hard.

Lesson 3 – to get the most from an experience you need to take full accountability. Unfortunately, despite learning the two lessons above, Alice took a bit of a tumble on the penultimate day and badly twisted her knee.  As a result she spent the last day in bed, her leg raised with an icepack on her knee, missing out on a gorgeous sunny day skiing on recently fallen snow. I am immensely proud of the way Alice has dealt with this particular set back – not only did it cut short her skiing, but it was also very painful.  However, not once have I heard her moan or blame anyone else – a real sign of growing up I think; she recognises that the only person responsible for the damage to her knee is her.  So often things do not quite turn out the way we want them too, if we seek to find excuses and blame others we are missing the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience. There is lots that have gone well for Alice, things she could improve and clearly actions she can take next time she skis (less Gluhwein I think J !)

\"steamroom\"Lesson 4 – you can’t always import your own rules and expect to fit in.  One of the downsides of skiing is the sudden and excessive demand placed on your body, legs especially.  There is nothing that quite replicates the pain and stiffness that a day on the piste creates in my calves!  Luckily our hotel had a wonderful spa which I was quick to visit on the first afternoon after skiing.  So…. being Switzerland, the rules of engagement were slightly different to the Steam Room and Sauna in your local gym 🙂 no costumes! When in Rome…….. well Zermatt, carpe diem and I joined the naked assembled throng! (well, middle-aged Swiss couple). We were sitting in convivial peace, when two different interactions occurred.  Firstly a couple of shadows appeared at the door followed by the less than dulcet tones of an older American chap “no honey, not in there, that is no towel no nothing!” I smiled to myself at the transparent honesty of the American abroad – say it how it is! Secondly – a few minutes later the door opened and 3 Brits ‘mit’ trunks entered, clambered to the top tier, failed to water down there seating area, and proceeded to talk incessantly for the next 10 minutes.  This became too much for my Swiss neighbours, they got up and left, pointedly hosing down their spot whilst just about managing to stifle a remonstrating tutt! I didn’t last much longer and went to find the peace and quiet of the sauna! A wonderful example of the Brit abroad – ignoring the local rules because they do not conform to his own and thereby alienating himself in the process.  Now, the reality is no big deal, it was just a steam room, but the lesson is valid – sometimes you have to step outside  of your comfort zone in order to be able to play your part and contribute fully if the circumstances are different.

I hope that the lessons resonate in your busy lives and please pass on to anyone you think may enjoy. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog please drop us a line at admin@kiliconsulting.co.uk


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