Learning and sharing on the side of a Mountain

During my first year of teaching skiing (1988) I rode up the lift with a gentleman around the age of 60. I was skiing at Bear Mountain (formerly Goldmine) in Southern California. It was 7 minutes of my life that could have just as well been a dream. He said to me:
“Do you enjoy what your are doing?” Yes, I love it.
“Are you any good at skiing?” I’m ok, but getting better.
“Do you get paid well doing it?” $5.50/hr… so not really.

He then said, “The last question is the least important question at this time in your life. You will have plenty of time to earn money, if that is what you choose.” “I have spent my entire life earning money. And I have done well growing and selling a few businesses. But you know what I will never have back? The time to get ‘really good’ at some activities that I love doing. That window has closed for me. But it doesn’t stop me from trying :)” We laughed, and then shortly thereafter unloaded the chair. He left me with a hearty, “Enjoy yourself Jonathan.”

I taught and worked in guest services at Bear Mtn for a few more years during winter breaks and winter weekends. Graduated College and then sold a business I had grown during college. The sale of that business financed my move to Colorado, and helped subsidize a few years. I had a list of goals and Breckenridge met most of them. The top of my list: Excellent training staff, many students to teach, and property to buy.

The first year in Colorado I earned my PSIA Full Certification (Level 3). Within 4 years I had become a staff trainer, and by 1999 I earned my PSIA Accredited Trainer status (RMT). I did this for many reasons: Improve my teaching ability; teaching a greater variety lesson levels; and earning relatively high pay for a resort instructor.

I continue to do what I love, and I have taught nearly 20,000 hours of lessons and clinics. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I stayed in California, as I imagine my life would be radically different. But upon reflection I mostly appreciating the people I have met, and friends I have made. Primarily appreciating the things which I have learned and continue to share on the side of a mountain.

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