Last week I attended a week-long Ultimate Leadership Camp in New York State to develop the fundamental skills of a successful leader by practicing the art of leadership — again and again — until it became second nature.
We learned how to have even more clarity in personal and professional vision and goals, achieve goals with less struggle and fewer obstacles, inspire confidence and ACTION from our followers and develop a calm and confident approach to problems and opportunities.
Getting 150 alpha wolves to collaborate and work as a team in one week was nothing short of miraculous and I now have 149 BFFs from all over the world.
The days were long and the activities were both physically and mentally challenging and of course we were constantly rubbing each other the wrong way. There was a whole lot of frustration, tears and yelling and I was constantly drawing on my skills and lessons learned as an adult competitive figure skater!
Some of my figure skating skills were readily transferable but first a bit of background. One of our trainers was a former Marine paratrooper named Sarge, whose goal was to impose a firm but gentle discipline on his company of non military individualists and so we assembled daily at 6am (before breakfast!) to be drilled in military style parade marching. By the end of the week we were divided into small groups of 8 and tasked with creating our own unique march. All I was able to bring to the leadership table was my experience as a figure skating coach and knowledge of synchronized skating. So yes, in between the military parade drills we had some pretty funky synchro moves that put a warm smile on Sarge’s face. Full confession: I’ve never skated or coached synchro and Sarge has a heart of gold!
Another figure skating skill I used on a daily basis was managing my energy levels. Many of the challenges were physically demanding and except for one day, the weather was hot (90 degrees) and sunny. As a figure skater I’ve learned to control my energy, especially in competitive settings where you need to have just enough adrenaline to skate your program without running out of gas but not so much that you are racing around like a headless chicken. You also must learn to cope with diverse external challenges such as bad ice, cold arenas and schedule changes without losing your focus.
Managing fear and nerves was also a competitive ice skating skill that I drew on frequently. On day two we had nine activities using paintball games to learn different aspects of leadership and to learn to adapt to different styles of leadership under ever changing circumstances. Without going into detail, I was able to recognize when my internal mental dialogue (aka “mind frick”) was preventing me from seeing clearly everything was going on around me. Once I conquered this, I discovered my inner paintball warrior and become an asset to my team rather than a liability.
Do you find being an ice skater helps you to manage real life situations? How so? Share your awesomeness with us!