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  • Writer's pictureArjanna van der Plas


My ski instructor was a 61-year old farmer named Joshi, who consistently called me ‘Mädel’.

I can’t say my inner feminist and him got along right from the start (when I told him my name wasn’t Mädel, he proposed to call me Heidi instead).

But I am glad we made peace, because his teaching techniques proved to be a cool metaphor that I’m about to share with you (and I finally learned how to ski properly).

“Ariiiiana”, Joshi said right before our second descent. “Teaching adults how to ski is 5% about technique, 95% about overcoming fear. I will put you in situations that challenge you a little bit, and then, when you experience success in those situations, you will feel more confident. When you are more confident, you remember better what I just told you about the technique. Verstehst du? Don’t overthink!”

I told him I got it, and looked at the slope. It was quite steep, and I felt a knot in my stomach.

“The first curve is always the scariest, Arijane. Remember what I said.”

I nodded, started skiing, and fell.

Joshi smiled, and helped me get up. “Arjanne! Your body knows what to do, but when your silly brain takes over, you lean towards the mountain and fall. Stop thinking”.

In the next four days, Joshi patiently helped me and my skiing buddies, until we confidently skied down the red slopes. “Arienne, good job. You are now fearless.”

He carried my skis to the hotel for me, and gave me the same medal that my kids had received from their ski instructors. I was beaming with pride.

Then it dawned on me that being a ski instructor is not so different from being a coach.

The people I coach often know in theory what they should do -in Joshi’s words, their bodies know the technique-, but their fear prevents them from moving forward confidently.

And it’s my job as a coach to inspire their courage and confidence, and give them a challenge that helps them overcome their initial fear and experience success, so that they can overcome the next obstacle, and the next, and the next, until they achieve their goal.

Witnessing the coachee in that journey is such a joy, and I think it’s safe to say that Joshi and I have the most rewarding job in the world!

What have you learned from your skiing trips (apart from how not to break your legs)?

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