“We have a serious Coconut situation going on here!” she said to me as I began writing this book. You see, the book Skiing: From the Bottom Up (working title) is beginning to take shape at sunset while I overlook the Indian Ocean in Bali. I’ve been teaching the sport of skiing since the age of 23 and I planning to teach it for many years into the future. I absolutely love it! I chase the winter season differently. I now split my time between the state of Colorado for the winter, and Bali during the Southern Hemisphere “winter”. This perfect mix allows me to stoke my fire with the contrast of the two distinct environments. The story within this book has been writing itself for decades, but it took the tropical temperatures for the messages to blossom.
The idea for this book came to me during an online workshop for aspiring authors hosted by our friend Carl Massy at The Practice. Halfway through the session, I stopped listening (Sharon was engaged and taking great notes) and within 7 minutes I mind-mapped the outline of the book. As I write, I will share some of the content on the blog each week from now until mid-February and I’d love to hear your comments and feedback. You will join me on daily adventures in the life of a ski instructor – at 8 am Instructor Clinics and 4:30 Instructor Technical Sessions, to the backroom of the boot shop (Are you ready Surefoot crew?), and down memory lane recounting how the sport has evolved since I started teaching in 1992 – learning lessons to improve your skiing along the way.
In February, I will begin shooting and editing videos that will be companions to the blog and eventually the book. You will be applying your new skills on your first run after reading the book and you can take the instructional videos on the mountain with you. Powder, moguls, carving, skidding, speed and line control, breaking through the intermediate and advanced ruts, and developing Intuitive Jedi skiing skills.
I will do my best to make this experience incredible and fun for all those who read and follow and contribute. I have had such wonderful coaches and colleagues along my journey and I have also been blessed with many incredibly kind and generous students over the years who have supported my ski-teaching habit. Soon I will launch a GoFundMe account to raise the money to fund this project. The funds will be used for copywriting, editing, publishing, design, and video production. As a backer, you will have access to advanced copies of the book, first editions, on-mountain meet and greet ski sessions, 2-day Masterclass sessions, and a Signature 1-week Zelement Club vacation. And everyone who supports at any level will be recognized in the book credits.
I am honored to embark on this journey with you. As we go through process, I will post certain sections and other related content on the blog. I am excited to hear your feedback to make this book even better.
It’s time to build this from the Bottom Up.
Love and Gratitude,
Join us for JaPOW: A special week of coaching and teaching skiing in the famous powder of Japan | January 28-February 5, 2018.
Private Lessons with Jon are available through Copper Mountain Ski School from mid-November to mid-April. Call +1.970.968.3023 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your lesson. Read more about lessons with Jon on our Colorado page.
We were invited by this beautiful couple to their impromptu wedding ceremony. After a year in Bali, they were moving back to Europe.
At the request of the bride, Jon drove back home, loaded his guitar and amp on to his motorbike, and arrived again, this time as their wedding singer.
After the ceremony we learned that they have been married many times - to each other!! How many people do you know that have thought to treat marriage this way? Each time they live in a new place, they have a love ceremony to include all their new friends in their union.
It was an inspiring evening that got a group of former strangers discussing how we could be more kind and loving in our own relationships. See the good in each other, work together, and encourage each other. As we like to say, "One plus one equals three". Are you feeling this in your relationship? What can you do to make it even better?
And we drank wine 🍾🥂
#ChooseLove #ZelementHappiness #LivinLocal #BeZelemental #spreadthelove
"The rules do not always apply, think outside the box."
#2 Leadership Principle of Velinda Stevens 1952-2017 #N407VS 🚁
Read our stories inspired by other leadership principles of Velinda:
#1 Find Joy in Every Day
#5 Be Generous
Generosity comes in so many different flavors. How are you generous?
With your time?
With your money?
With your listening?
With your kind words and encouragement?
::Sometimes we think we don't have 'enough' to be generous::
This would be a good time to think about how you can be more generous with YOURSELF.
In what ways are you criticizing yourself - telling yourself you aren't ______ enough? (Fill in the blank.)
In what ways are you holding yourself back from what you really want to have, do, or be?
::Sometimes we think we don't have 'enough' to be generous::
Ketut & Wayan have huge hearts. When we sit down at their warung they bring baskets of complimentary snacks that get refilled before they are even empty. They watch our stuff while we are in the ocean. They let us pay them 'next time' when we don't have enough money with us. They greet all our friends with a smile and open arms. They stay late so we can enjoy conversations by the ocean in the moonlight. When we leave they fill our hands with snacks to take home.
Many Balinese have relatively little when it comes to money, education, access to stable housing and plumbing, yet they act generously.
So, when will you have 'enough' to see yourself as generous? 💖
#BeZelemental #LivinLocal #ZelementHappiness
- #5 Leadership Principle of Velinda Stevens, 1952-2017 #N407VS
Read my thoughts on Velinda's #1 and #2 Leadership Principles ~Find Joy in Every Day~ and ~The Rules Don't Always Apply. Think Outside the Box.~
When I teach a ski lesson, I always like to incorporate some element of Adventure that will expand the comfort zone of the skier and help them grow. In this exercise of trust it is important to have a syntax in which the skier and I can communicate, and I call this the Zones of Comfort and Fear.
I first shared this with my students in 1992 and since then incorporated lessons from many people and genres, most notably from John Phillips at Aspen Mountain in the mid-90s, and breathing techniques from Hatha Yoga I learned at Yoga Teacher Training in Bali.
Having this common language
1) Allows the skier to identify their own thresholds and notice their progression through the Zones,
2) Allows the skier to feel more comfortable describing to me their mental and emotional states, and
3) Allows me to communicate a gameplan for the lesson and provide clear feedback.
The Zones are unique to each individual.
They are not directly correlated to ski run labels of green, blue, and black – there are many more factors influencing the Zones including skier ability, past experience, crowds, effects of altitude, sleep quality, mental state, terrain (powder, ice, moguls), and time of day (visibility, fatigue).
These Zones are not fixed nor precisely measurable. For example, an intermediate mogul run that is identified as a Yellow Zone activity eventually becomes a Green Zone activity after the skier gets comfortable with it. Also, when a student is standing above a run and looking in, the “fear of the unknown” can be quite strong. Once the skier “takes action”, there will usually be a 0.5 to 1 Zone increase in comfort level.
Zone 1: The Green Zone
The student will feel very comfortable this Zone. Internal and external threats are perceived to be at a minimum.
This is the point to add to the student’s knowledge base. Combine “learned” and “activity” knowledge by explaining and demonstrating new movements then running exercises & drills in this Zone. Remember that “a sailing ship is safe in a harbor, but that is not where sailing ships were meant to be sailed.” Bring your students to the next Zone to work on expanding their Green Zone.
Zone 2: Optimal Performance Zone
The OP Zone. The student will naturally have a heightened level of awareness and mental acuity due to adrenaline and endorphins, and might express joy and happiness and some hoots and hollers.
The Optimal Performance Zone is created when the student experiences the stress/arousal of applying their knowledge and developed skill in a new and slightly more challenging environment.
I enjoy spending time with my student in this Zone. It offers the potential to make the most progress toward their goals and we can ski in terrain which is interesting to them. When we pace the lesson properly we can stay in the OP Zone for an extended period of time and the Green-OP Zone and OP-Yellow Zone thresholds expand as the student’s skills develop.
In this Zone, I coach to “anchor” feelings, emotional states, and performance cues, e.g.,“What are you seeing?” “Which muscles are firing?” “What thoughts do you have?”, etc.
Zone 3: The Yellow Zone
The Thrill Zone. Some of my students refer to this as the “I Might Pee My Pants” Zone (the *other* reason it is called the Yellow Zone).
In their Yellow Zone, the student will experience a heightened state of stimulation perhaps described as shortness of breath, feeling a bit scared or nervous, or show a tendency to speed up speech and movements or to become quiet.
Different responses in this Zone can be generally classified as either fight or flight.
Fighters either will perform well in this Zone, or they might be mentally committed to being there yet show limited proficiency of skills that they were able to perform well in the OP/Green Zones.
Flighters would prefer to finish the lesson segment and go back to their Green Zone.
As an instructor, it is important to notice both types of response as well as how the skier performs in this Zone. Applaud ALL results in this Zone and do not criticize at this moment. Sharing what I observed in their performance is generally well received (E.g., “When we ski in to this terrain I saw there is an up-unweighting/extension movement at the beginning of the turn rather than the absorption/flexion movement we have been developing.”)
A skilled instructor will determine whether to eventually move back to the Green or OP Zone to work on skills or to coach the student to perform in this Zone by encouragement, focus on the activity, and/or anchoring of the experience. This applies to both fighters and flighters.
Both the student and instructor would be best served not to spend an extended length of time in the Thrill Zone all at once. Much like the driver who keeps their car in 2nd gear at high RPM for an extended period time, excessive wear can occur.
Zone 4: The Orange Zone
Some exposure to this Zone is important for the skier to grow. An instructor or coach can help manage the student’s heightened anxiety level, which is inherent within this Zone. The instructor’s presence, words of encouragement, tactical advice, and reminder of goals/incentives can all be beneficial to the learner. In fact, this is an important reason top athletes hire coaches - they help the athlete focus when their world is “spinning”.
A skier can be here for a little time, but extended exposure to this mental state will start to see significant performance deterioration. Think of this as the beginning of the Red Line in a car, or an anaerobic in workout. Make sure to choose terrain where the skier may decompress back to a “safer” Zone quickly, if necessary.
A skilled coach can move the skier between the OP-Yellow-Orange Zones several times throughout a lesson which will expand these Zones outward. A guided tour into this Orange Zone can aid the student in developing a better understanding of movements and tactics, and their relevance on other areas of the mountain. The terrain or situation which was once Orange, can become Yellow, or even Green with a few guided journeys into that environment.
Celebrate the effort and the completion of the task no matter the performance in this Zone. This can be the peak of an Adventure lesson. Most skiers are not training for the Olympics nor a major performance. However, wisely guiding a student in to the Orange Zone can help a skier rapidly expand their vision, ability, and application of skills. This Zone often provides fantastic stories for student to share with friends and family during après-ski!
Zone 5: The Red Zone
The Danger Zone. This is a No-Go Zone.
Performance will decline rapidly as levels of anxiety and discomfort rise. Sometimes lessons go here without the intent of the student or instructor. We call this “Over Terraining”. The student may have an intense flight or freeze reaction. It is important to realize this Red Zone may be encountered on the beginner hill, intermediate, or advanced slopes. The Red Zone is a reflection of the student’s mind-space, not merely a trail designation.
If you do find yourself in a Red Zone experience, go to a Green Zone run or the lodge to decompress as soon as possible. Then you can build back toward the OP Zone.
Even though this article is specifically related to performance skiing, our surfing friends in Bali can immediately apply the terminology when they read it before we paddle out together. I applied this Zones model to my own sports of Motorcycle Racing, Surfing, Track, and Cross-Country growing up and I invite you to adapt it to any sport or activity you are learning or teaching.
About the Co-Author:
Jonathan Lawson, aka Jonnie Law, has taught more than 30,000 hours of lessons to skiers and instructors. In the 22 years since becoming a Level 3 Certified Professional, he has learned from some of the best minds in the ski teaching world and integrated their lessons into his own skiing and teaching. Jon has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Ski Instructors in North America and in 2011 he was a finalist for Colorado Ski Instructor of the Year. He and his partner live in Bali and Colorado running their Adventure Travel & Lifestyle Coaching business called Zelement Club. To book a lesson with Jon visit www.ZelementClub.com.
Zelement Club prioritizes positive community contributions
Changing the existing state of things isn’t necessarily bad, but transforming a village into a city isn’t necessarily progress. Does the progress serve the community or humanity? From the perspective of whom? It may benefit some, but it may degrade the greater community and culture. And it may be difficult to see this in the moment. When we set up our Clubhouse in a foreign community, we desire to not add strain to the existing infrastructure.
Zelement Club prioritizes positive community contributions and minimizing negative impacts to a community. It is vital for us support community projects and wages. If there is an opportunity to create excess personal financial profit at the cost of the well-being of the local community we will forego the excess profit.
When we select a location for our ClubHouse we will use these operating principles as our guide:
• We will purchase food, goods, and services from locals rather than foreign companies when we have comparable choices
• We will not intentionally impede the ability of the locals to afford their current lifestyle.
• Rent from locals, rather than buying if buying will contribute to inflation and eventually an affordability crisis for the locals. For example, buying and developing land for appreciation well above what locals can afford is in opposition to our beliefs as individuals and as a company.
So come be a part of something good in this world!
Guest Post from Jonnie Law, co-founder of Zelement Club.
When I was working at my first career in a big corporation I would always read articles like this one in FastCompany that talked about the benefits of taking more vacation. I wished that all of my managers would read these and I daydreamed that our organization would change the culture to help me not feel guilty about using my paid time off.
"Don't they get it that this trip is actually a good thing for my productivity? If I don't take this vacation it's actually bad for my health!!" were some of the thoughts I had as a person that felt I didn't have control of my own time. When I did take a vacation I experienced the clarity of mind, confidence, and creativity that the articles talked about. The work culture never changed but I did. It was in a true moment of clarity after gliding down a ski slope at 40 mph in Colorado that I decided to quit my job and follow my dream. The culmination of all these vacations is called Zelement Club.
This big change was years in the making and I'm not saying that you will quit your job when you travel with me. You have your own dreams and your own visions of happiness and your own barriers that are keeping you from creating that happy life.
Zelement Club is a place where the seemingly impossible becomes possible, if you are open to it. We play, we try new things, we learn new skills and enjoy the process. It's a place to reconnect with your inner child and shed the rules and justifications we have made up that prevent us from living the life we truly want. At the Zelement ClubHouse you meet others who have changed their lives and some who are just getting the inspiration to get started. Wherever you are in this process you are welcome as long as you have a positive attitude. All of our adventures revolve around activities like skiing, snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking, golf, or yoga.
I understand very well the time and energy demands of a career so I thought of how I can help you relax from the time you book. We know our locations really well and get you dialed in so you feel like a local.
The Zelement ClubHouse will be in Copper Mountain, Colorado this winter with a one week only appearance in Myoko, Japan in February. After the lifts close and the snow starts melting we will be in Bali from May through October. As I write it is dumping powder at Copper Mountain.
Have a great weekend!
Originally published 11/13/2015 on LinkedIn
Sharon and Jon live the life of their dreams. Zelement Club is their way of inviting others to join them in this adventure.