This is a story about a lovely young girl that I had the opportunity to meet this Christmas holiday. It is something that just stuck in my head so I decided to share it with you.
Today I had the opportunity to go skiing with my friends family. It was such a beautiful day. The sky was bright blue and the snow was just perfect. This little lady had never skiied before. She seemed excited and was looking forward to trying it out.  I am not the greatest skier but I knew enough to help her get the basics down.
First we started with putting the skis on. She seemed to figure that out quickly. The next step was to try and go down a tiny hill and attempt to slow down and stop. We walked up the hill sideways ever so slightly so that she had just the right size slope to try it out. She was eager to get going and so there she went down the hill. Little did she know, it was more difficult than she thought. She failed to stop and ran right into the fence at the bottom of the ski hill.  What a mess! She sat up immediately and said:
“I never want to do that again and I may as well stop now because I am no good.”
I explained that she had to try again because it will take more than one try to learn how to do something new, especially a new sport.  She got up, grunting and moaning, but did eventually go for it.
Next she had to learn how to turn left and right. She turned out to be quite good at turning right but when it came to turning left she fell numerous times. After each fall I heard comments like:

“I think I am finished here”

“I am not good at this”

“I don’t want to do it anymore”

It saddened me to hear all of the negative comments. I noticed that she did not have a lot of patience with herself. The funniest part was that she was actually improving after each turn and she didn’t even notice. She seemed more upset about making mistakes instead of being proud that she was actually making progress. It took an immense amount of bravery to be able to try something new but that feeling of accomplishment seemed to have just blown past her like a leaf in the wind. That put aside, I cheered her on anyway and kept being positive.

“Get up sweetie, you can do it”

“Good try, now get up and try again”

“Go for it, push off and be brave”

I continued to give her technical corrections that would help her to slow down, turn and stop. Nothing was working in regards to improving her negative take on the new experience. She seemed to be getting even more upset. The negative comments began more frequently occurring as time passed. By this point she needed a break.

After lunch she got to try again. She continued to improve and started to really get the hang of it. She was upset with her self quite often but did start to have a little bit of fun. The sight of young children bolting past her as if they were experts was embarrassing and self humiliating.

She voiced her opinion quite honestly.

“Continuing at this point is just an embarrassment right now. How do those little kids do it?”

I explained to her that even those little kids tried for their first time once. They probably had just as hard of a time as you are having right now. The only difference is that today is your first day, not theirs. They had to fall over and over again in order to be able to go as fast as they can now.

By the end of the day, she did mention that some parts were fun but the overall experience was upsetting. She was still stuck on the fact that she was not very good at skiing and that it was very hard to learn. I am happy that she did end up having some fun.

I noticed that her confedence was very low. I was clear that she could not bear being in a state of embarrassment or humiliation so therefore she did not have the patience to make mistakes. She really had a hard time being optimistic when she felt personally discouraged.

I am looking at this situation from outside the box as I write it down. I can’t help but wonder how this experience could have been better for her.

If her attitude was more positive, would she have been able to handle the embarrassment of making mistakes better?

If she had more confidence, would she have been more excited about getting up and trying again after failing?

If she had kept her initial eager attitude all the way to the end, would she have been happier with herself overall?

I wanted to make the experience positive for her so badly but I knew there was no way I could do it on my own. I knew that she would have to change the way she was looking at the situation in order to make it more positive. I could cheer her on and make positive remarks but I could only hope that she would notice her improvements after each turn. She started out from not knowing how to even put her skiis on to four hours later being able to stop, slow down and turn left and right. It was not perfect but she could do it. I think it was a huge accomplishment in the end. It may have been difficult and frustrating but so much progress was made in such a short time. That is definitely something to be proud of.

The lesson in this story is when you have trouble learning something new and just feel like you are the worst at it, think of why you wanted to try it in the first place. You wouldn’t have wanted to try it if it wasn’t exciting to you. When you are finished, compare yourself to when you started and where you left off. I am sure if you put an appropriate amount of time and effort into it, you will find areas that you improved in and things you did well. You will also find things that did not go the way you had planned but remember not too long before that you knew nothing at all so it is progress no matter what.

Find the positives in all your experiences and most importantly be patient with yourself. Learning takes time.

“You are your own most powerful motivator and critic. Which will you be?”

-Coach Brittany-

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