This winter I decided to pursue my teaching certification through the Professional Ski Instructors Association (PSIA). I've considered getting certified for many years, but always resisted.
Hmmmm ... an interesting observation raising some interesting questions; the biggest of all being "why the resistance"? Was my resistance based on fear of success? Fear of failure? Fear of rejection? Fear of being judged? Perhaps a little bit of each?
These feelings are not unfamiliar. I've felt them before in other aspects of my life. Many times, actually, However, awhile back, I made the committment to minimize the impact of fear in my life. I had a huge breakthrough in fear and in letting go of control when I learned how to rock climb. Climbing up a slab of granite and trusting someone to guide me safely scared the hell out of me ... similar, I'm sure, to the way my ski school students feel about standing on the top of a snow covered mountain attempting to defy gravity with two waxed boards attached to their feet!
Since my rock climbing "freak out" experience, through the embarrassment and the tears and having the opportunity to process it with my partner and guide and then taking the lessons further into my daily life, I am pleased to say that fear has mostly lost it's hold on me. I have become quite adept at identifying fear when it rears it's head. At one time, I either fought hard, withdrew and pushed away or ran when I felt fear. Now, for the most part, I simply observed it, breathe through it and take the next best step through it, and ask for help and support when I need it.
The pathway to PSIA certification is pretty clear. The process consists of studying the Exam Preparation Manual along with lots of on snow practice based on the guidelines set forth by the Professional Ski Instructors Association. The final step of the process is a two day on snow coaching and evaluation session with a PSIA Examiner and a group of fellow "candidates" There was something about that word "candidate" that triggered me. It is so cool to simply be an observer of myself, my feelings. my fears and my triggers as opposed to my old role as victim.
My first step on the path toward certification was to state my goal to my director and my colleagues at Ski School. As part of the application process, the "candidate" has to have the endorsement of the Ski School Director. I can remember the feeling of relief I had as I watched my Director sign my application form. He signed, so apparently he thought I was good enough to represent my profession. After he signed, he offered words of wisdom. He said, "As long as you learn the PSIA language and their demonstration techniques, you've got everything else you need to pass." "Cool and thank you," I responded.
I somehow needed to hear his approval. Hmmmm ... interesting.
I've been teaching skiing for years and I am good at what I do. I have one of the best ratios of coaching first time students through the progression and getting them up the mountain and coming down independently, in control, smiling, having fun and feeling proud of their accomplishment. If I was honest with myself, I knew that with a little work, I would do fine, but somehow, I still needed his approval.
Hmmmmm ... where have I felt that before?
The second step was to ask for help. I needed a coach to help me prepare for the exam. I needed someone who was willing to share their time and expertise to help me prepare to reach my goal. I needed to make myself open and vulnerable. I needed someone who could nudge me along the path I had chosen and provide feedback to help me develop new skills and improve old ones.
Hmmmm ... yet another interesting observation.
Asking for help was difficult for me. It has been a repetitive theme in my life and has not always served me well! It is amazing how those limiting beliefs keep showing up. They may look different. be cleverly disguised and the circumstances in which they show up may be different, but the subconscious tapes and the underlying old, outdated and limiting beliefs are the same ones that have been there since as long as I can remember. They are the same beliefs that have held me back up until now. The difference is, I now have the tools to break through them, reprogram my brain and be successful in whatever I choose to do.
I stated my intentions out loud to my ski school colleagues. I approached one of them specifically and asked if he would be willing to coach me through the preparation process. He was happy about my decision to seek certification. He outlined his expectations and told me that if I would commit to the process, he would be glad to coach me. He told me he would take my training seriously and expected me to do the same. I agreed.
At the same time, several other people offered their support. A couple of colleagues offered a critique of my skiing along with tips for improvement. A couple more offered their knowledge about the PSIA teaching philosophy to help me get in the mindset and help me practice using the preferred teaching language. Several of my previously certified colleagues stepped forward to share their experiences of the preparation and the examination process. It was amazing how when I decide what I want, state it out loud and ask for help, people are happy to help me accomplish my goals!
At one point during the preparation process, I had scheduled a training clinic with my coach. It was a cold, rainy morning; the perfect day to stay home, hang out, drink coffee, catch up on the daily news, email, etc. I fought the urge to skip clinic and went to the mountain to meet my coach. I suggested that we postpone the clinic for another time. He was very adament in his response. "You need to decide if you really want to do this. If you do, you need to do what needs to be done!" He was clearly not pleased with my stalling that morning. Less then five minutes later, I was all geared up, outside in the rain and ready to go. The clinic was great and that day I decided that I was 100% committed.
Looking back over the past several weeks of preparation, it has become apparent that a simple decision to pursue PSIA certification served as a fine example for how the Success Principles (listed below) can be applied to just about any goal or desire and how much a coach can help with the process!
In the recipe for success, The Success Principles are like the ingredients, my coach, the mixer stirring it all together and I am like the oven where the final product is produced.
Decide What You Want
Believe That It's Possible
Unleash the Power of Goal Setting
Release the Brakes
Ask, Ask, Ask
Face Your Fears Head On
Be Willing to Pay The Price
Use Feedback to Fast-forward
Start Now-Just Do It
Give Your Best to Be Your Best
Perform with Persistence by Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize
For more information about the Success Principles, check out the links below.
By the way, I got my certification!