Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Over time, snowboarding has drawn a lot of parallels in my life. I’ve learned numerous life lessons while sliding sideways on snow and have always been grateful when I get to share them with others.
Today I’d like to share one particular story and how a simple lesson in snowboarding provided wisdom on how to live a more successful life.
From 2010-2012, I checked off a bucket list item by living in the mountains of Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Since Whistler is known for getting 400-500 inches of snow annually, (about four stories), it was a dream come true for me.
To any snowboarder, this amount of snow is a Godsend, but only if you know how to ride it properly. Because of its proximity to the Pacific coast, Whistler’s snow is heavier than most places in the world and due to the sheer amount, can be extremely difficult to navigate for the inexperienced rider. Because of these unique conditions, you must adapt your riding style to be successful.
In snowboarding, a simple rule of thumb is to have your weight equally distributed across both legs. However, in order to accommodate the heavier snow conditions in Whistler, you must learn to modify this rule by placing more weight on your back leg, thereby allowing you to float through the heavy stuff.
I quickly learned that if I didn’t adapt I would have been frustrated, not go as far as I could and not become the best snowboarder I could be. This is the perfect metaphor for life: sometimes we need to adapt to our situation in order to be successful.
Adaptation helps push our boundaries, grow in ways we didn’t think possible and go further than we ever imagined.
During my time in the mountains, I learned much more than I expected, not only about snowboarding, but also about life. One of the important lessons I learned was that adapting to my environment can be the difference between success and failure.
This reminds me of one of my favorite days snowboarding. It was my first time in a helicopter and we were headed into the British Columbia backcountry. As luck would have it, I was the only passenger in the cabin with a pair of headphones and could hear what our pilot and guide were talking about; to this day, I’m glad I did. Our guide had been asking to explore a specific mountain peak for the entire season, but due to high winds, snowstorms and avalanche dangers, it was impossible…until today. Today, for the first time in three months, Mother Nature granted us a tiny window of opportunity to land atop this towering peak. We didn’t know it, but what lay ahead of us was some of the most epic conditions that have ever existed: bottomless powder on a snow blanketed landscape, in complete solitude.
The helicopter dropped us on a pristine piste, which was untouched by any human for over three months. It looked like an infinite landscape, with perfectly white-capped peaks in every direction, that appeared more numerous than the stars in the sky. As we stepped off the heli and crouched down into the snow, the blades of the chopper began to spin wildly and then lifted off. Before I knew it, the heli was a few kilometers away and I realized we were now alone in this vast landscape and forced to find a way down this massive peak. We traversed approximately 50 meters to the edge of the cliff, looked over the side and saw nothing but uncharted territory, or what I like to call, the perfect playground.
I dug my board into the spotless snow, adjusted my bindings, turned on my GoPro and dropped in. What happened next can only be described as pure euphoria. Each turn seemed like floating on air, snow blanketed me at every turn, rendering me blind for a few seconds as waves of powder washed over me from head-to-toe. The snow seemed to be bottomless and I noticed something different: the nose of my board began to sink, my speed slowed and my body was descending deeper and deeper into the snowpack. Thankfully, I remembered how to ride in these conditions, so I adapted my stance, leaned back a little and found myself effortlessly floating over the deep powder.
In snowboarding, when you’re riding heavy snow, you need to adapt, change your stance and lean back in order to get through the heavy stuff. Life is similar to this: you need to evaluate your situation, devise a strategy and adapt your approach in order to be successful or to “lean back” when things get heavy.
We need to remember this when trying to achieve Peak Performance in our Health, Wealth and Relationships as well.
Sometimes, we need to adapt the way we exercise in order to accommodate an injury. Other times, we need to adjust our perspective when thinking about our job. While other times we need to adapt the way we communicate while having a critical conversation
Adaptation is not only critical to success in both professional and personal worlds, but it’s also imperative to surviving in the natural world. At some stage in the evolutionary process, every living species needed to adapt in order to be successful, so why would humans be any different?
I want to leave you with this question to reflect on: what were some of the situations that forced to adapt?
Today, I want to encourage you to be mindful of whether you adapted or stagnated in these situations and how it lead to success or failure.
Throughout our life, we will have many choices: We can choose to adapt and succeed or stagnate and fail.
Which will you choose?
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