Skills and Talents for the Long Haul
In celebration of the Reverend Martin Luther King's birthday many organizations and the feds honor his amazing accomplishments with a day off. I think it is an important day to recognize, and if he were to be alive today I'd hope that he would feel like his marches, rallies and inspiration changed the way we value diversity forever. His words and sacrifice of his own life has made an impression for the long haul. He has gone down in history as one of the great orators and influencers of our time.
I also took the day off and my family was invited by dear friends to join them at Massanuttan Resort in Virginia with their family. It is a four seasons resort, and the weather had been cold enough for them to make snow, so the plan was to hit the slopes. I long ago sold my old Olin IV 180 cm relics at a yard sale believing that if I ever ski again the equipment would be archaic. I last skied in 1993, and the biggest memory I have from that was painful burning thighs and freezing icy conditions. I moved to Cincinnati soon after, and skiing is not exactly a local sport there, so I got interested in other things.
My husband had not skied since 1995 and we sold his skis last year in a yard sale. Kate, the 5 year old seemed to be interested, so we decided to get her a lesson in the resorts' Slope Sliders program which was just wonderful. Her teacher was Spencer, and the whole experience was perfect for her. It was a solid foundational introduction to the basics, she sloshed around in her clunky boots, made snow angels, learned the pizza wedge and was able to successfully get on the innovative Magic Carpet conveyor lift that beat the heck out of the old rope tow that I learned on.
I was petrified. My husband and I decided to rent skis and give it a whirl. In case Kate wanted to take up the sport some day, it would be nice to do it together. We rented the skis and the hardest part was getting the darn boots on. I was surprised at how little the equipment actually changed. Apparently the technology innovations have been reserved for the abundance of snow boards, and not for the ski rental industry. But that was OK, it was familiar.
We carried our skis up to the chair lift, snapped them on, held our breath and swished onto the quad chair lift. Now there has been some nice changes here with a gate to stop you and release you when it is ready for you, a rubber belt then moves you automatically, and far fewer falls than what I recalled. We made it, and sat down without incident. It was exhilarating actually! I had forgotten how fun it was to look down and see the diversity of skiwear, styles and ages. Tons of kids! I did not recall that many young children skiing in the 70's but, then again, there may not have been as many given the vast differences in the economy.
OK, it was time for tips up and to get off the lift...and we did it! We did not fall and it was just as easy as the last time I did it. I squealed with glee as I pushed off and headed down the hill. It all came back. I had originally thought I needed a lesson to refresh my memory, but the brain and the body are amazing phenomenons. It came back and it really was like riding a bike.
It was wonderful for our egos, especially my husband. He suffered a stroke in 2002 and has some residual right side weakness in addition to other things, but he did GREAT!
Think about our emerging leaders and the Millennials entering the workforce. They are learning skills and talents that they will hard wire in for the long haul. We only really get one or two chances to set the tone and get it right. The brain remembers. The body recalls what the stresses and pressures feel like. I am passionate about giving them the tools they need, the resources and frameworks to help them get it right EARLY in their careers. They may not use these skills right away, but they should be in it for the long haul, and as leadership development professionals, we need to be in it for the long haul as well.
How sustainable are our programs? Will they traverse the challenging mountains of 20 years from now? Will they navigate the terrain and make it down the hill, and then back up again?