Are you good at being inept and uncoordinated? I am, or at least I am trying to be. This morning I shelled out more money to fall down in the snow. Here in Flagstaff Arizona we actually get a lot of snow; (interruption to let that mind-blowing fact sink in— it snows in Arizona!) therefore we have a nordic center where they have groomed trails for cross country skiing. In general, I am risk averse when it comes to my physical body and the potential for a broken bone. In particular, I have shied away from sports which involve “accessories”. I like swimming and hiking. However, I could never get the hang of skating, skiing, field hockey, tennis, or anything else where you had to use another object to achieve your goal.

I started cross country skiing as much to master the art of falling down as to actually learn a new sport. Humility is a virtue. So I am told. As a public speaker and consultant I have a pretty sizable ego. However I have enough self reflection skills to realize that my large ego can get in my way. (Notice how I reframed that self-effacing moment back to a humble brag?). With a physical activity like skiing there is no room to hide from failure or from performance. You either glide along like a graceful goose or you are pulling the snow out of your underwear and wishing for a cup of hot chocolate to ease the anguish.

Author on Cross Country Ski Trail

Today on the trail I was actually getting the hang of it. I had just decided to venture beyond the beginner loop when I met a man named Alex who was also skiing alone and was also a beginner. He told me I looked like I knew what I was doing (HA!) and asked if he could ski with me. There is nothing as useful to a beginner as realizing there is someone a little more beginner than you who can use a hand. I passed along a few pointers from my ski instructor and then watched him take my advice and fall into the snow five times in a row. He was already mastering the art of falling down faster than I was!

Alex is a self proclaimed adrenaline junkie and forged ahead like a puppy that is all paws and no balance. His enthusiasm for trying despite falling was contagious and I was drawn further down the intermediate loop. 90 minutes later I was pulling the snow out of my underwear back at the lodge and grinning ear to ear. Sometimes it takes another beginner to make you step up and go further faster.