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Learn Like A Child

Ski Tips from Westy at Altitude Verbier

It comes as no surprise to any parents when suddenly they can no longer keep up with their offspring. It recently happened to myself and my four-time Olympian wife Emma Carrick-Anderson. The only thing that has surprised us is that our children were only six years old when they began to overtake us.

Everyone talks about how children learn so quickly, but why is this? And can adults still learn in the same way and benefit from the qualities that come to children so naturally?

Here are my top 10 reasons why children are such good learners. If adults could rekindle these childlike qualities then maybe they could learn just as fast or even faster!

 Living In The Now

Children live for the moment. They’re not worried about the future and they’re certainly not worried about the past. It’s all about the now. Skiing is a sport where the environment is constantly changing, so it’s vital to live in the now. Adults always want to know what is going to happen before it happens and then are judgmental about the past. Learn to deal with what is happening now and let go of the past.

“The past is history, the future is a mystery, now is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.”

Accepting What Is

Children don’t value, question or compare; they just do. There’s no right or wrong, there’s just what is.

Free

Children are free. They have no perceptions of how they should ski, how they are skiing or how they did ski. They have a freedom to move, unrestricted and unhindered. Adults are always trying to do it right, blocking their movement and freedom, becoming restricted and unable to move freely. Be free.

 Output Focused

Children are “output focused”. They’re solely concerned with “getting down” and are not worried about how they achieve this. The task, the terrain and the snow shapes their learning and how they ski, “outputs shaping inputs”. Adults always want to know how to do it before they do it and therefore work the opposite way around, “inputs shaping outputs”. Go output focused.

 Learn By Mistakes

To children it’s not making mistakes, it’s simply learning. The fastest way to learn is by being happy to make mistakes. Children don’t even think they’ve made a mistake. Sitting back is just sitting back, swinging shoulders is just swinging shoulders, not right or wrong, just what is. Adults are judgemental about themselves, worried about making mistakes, wanting to know how to do it. Be free to accept and make mistakes.

 Fun

Why do children ski? Because it’s fun! Why do adults ski? I’ll leave this for you to answer. Make it fun and you’ll find that learning will just get quicker and quicker.

Be Yourself

Children are content with who they are. They don’t compare, wish they were better, they are not worried about being watched or wish they were someone else. They are not self-conscious, they’re just them. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

 No Fear

Children have less fear and no responsibilities. They’re not thinking “What if”, leaving them free to have a go, to experiment, to make mistakes and to learn.

 No Airs and Graces

Children are not worried about what others think about them, are not self-conscious and are free to adopt the most stable stance naturally. They crouch low, feet wide and are solid. Adults are worried about what they look like and therefore miss out on adopting the best stance, standing upright with their feet close rather than low and wide. Ski like a child.

 Doers

Children don’t ask questions like “What’s the effect of the centripetal force whilst turning?”, “When should I plant my pole?”, “Which way should my shoulders face?” or “How much weight should I have on each ski?”. They don’t discuss the finer details of technique and they are certainly not worried about being filmed and having their technique dissected. They are doers, not analysers. Adults want to know how and why, if it was correct and how to improve it. “Analysis leading to paralysis.” Become a doer.

So these are my top 10 reasons why children are such fast learners. Can adults learn like this? You bet they can. If you want to learn fast then it may be time to rekindle that inner child within you. Experiment, don’t worry, lose your inhibitions, accept mistakes and above all enjoy and have some fun.

 

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