Not everyone is naturally talented at something. Some have to work harder and stretch themselves to stay up there with those that seem to have things come more easily to them. I’m not saying that those with natural talent don’t work, because natural talent will only take you so far in life, but we can’t all be Shawn White, Ester Ledecka, Red Gerard, etc.
Ross Hindman from SBX Life posted up a great photo a couple years ago and as a memory just the other day he reposted it. It’s titled 10 Things That Require Zero Talent. These are things you can do that don’t require you to be gifted to do well and excel. Some of these are so obvious it’s almost funny they have to be mentioned, but you’d be surprised these days. So, what’s on this list:
1. Be on time – My mom has lived most of her life in the Marine Corps first as a Marine Brat and now as a Marine Civilian. They have a saying that if you are on time, you are late. Don’t waste anyone’s time, including your own, by showing up late. Those that were there on time shouldn’t have to wait on you or have to listen to the instructions a second time, just because you were late to practice. Of course, being late to competition is a good way to end up as a DNS.
2. Work ethic – This one should be easy. Value the work you are doing and work hard at it. There is a saying that anything worth doing is worth doing well. This is true for everything you do in life.
3. Effort – Don’t phone it in. I get it, sometimes we all have bad days, but you are either there and putting in the effort or don’t bother. Everyone needs a break. Take the day and do something else or spend it on the slopes relaxing, on hiking a trail, or surfing in the ocean. We all can benefit from a recharge occasionally.
4. Energy – There is more than one type of energy. I look at this one as the enthusiasm you bring to yourself and those around you. Positive energy will bring positive results. Negative energy will bring negative results. If you walk around with an Eeyore attitude, you’re not likely to have a great day.
5. Body Language – It’s amazing what body language can tell you about someone, and I’m not talking about the typical teen eye rolls. Let your body focus on what your coaches are telling you, even when it is criticism. You can’t do everything right, so learn from those moments. Uncross those arms and embrace everything.
6. Passion – Love what you do; otherwise, why do it? Find your passion, I didn’t love my time when I was young in the park, but I did love chasing an older teammate down the mountain (She told me I could ride with her, but she wasn’t waiting for me, so I had to keep up). I started with Boardercross, and though I still love to race SBX, my real passion is Alpine Snowboarding and I happened on it purely by accident as a way to help my SBX racing get better. Find your passion and don’t be afraid to try new things; you never know where it might take you.
7. Doing Extra – I’m not talking about that extra run on the slopes (though those can’t hurt), I’m talking about watching your teammates and learning from them, helping setup courses (you’ll learn a lot by simply understanding how they are put together), help take down courses (I offer even at other mountains, you meet some great people), etc.
8. Being Prepared – There are lots of ways to look at this one. Dry land training will help you be prepared to stay healthy and strong during the season. Making sure you are organized (definitely not my strong suit) and having the things you need when you are out there riding and competing (something as simple as having a small ratchet screwdriver to tighten bindings), having your board prepped for the conditions, making sure you packed everything (to include your snow pants so you’re not scrambling the morning of the event for a pair to buy or borrow – been there, done that), etc.
9. Being Coachable – This means asking for and being open to receiving feedback, reflecting on how you can do better, and being interested in growing as an athlete. You can’t take things personally; you need to see everything as an opportunity to grow and get better. I was once told that I was very coachable; it was the best compliment I have ever gotten.
10. Attitude – This isn’t a necessarily a negative thing, but you can make it one. This to me goes hand in hand with your energy. A crappy attitude will not only yield negative results in your practice or competition but will not make you the popular person on the hill. Bring a “can do” attitude with you and eventually, you will do it.
I may never be the one with the most natural talent on the competition slopes, but I am going to do my best to bring everything from above to the table. Not only is it a positive ideology, but it will make my life, my coaches’ job, as well as my fellow teammates and competitors lives better and easier.
When I was 4, I started playing soccer. The coach we had was a high school soccer coach. He told us that he’d take a hard-working coachable kid on his team any day of the week over a naturally talented one that didn’t think they had to put in the effort. So, be that hard-working kid out there, and who knows, maybe we’ll see you out there competing on the international stage or at the Olympics, naturally talented or not.