Tale of the ski bunny: why copying your mentor doesn't always work

  Photo:  Baby Karen in heart ski suit, no gloves, wooden skis with interesting straps and apparently, snow boots.

Photo:  Baby Karen in heart ski suit, no gloves, wooden skis with interesting straps and apparently, snow boots.

Flashback.

We are up at the mountain.  John, my then husband, his best friend Dale, and me.  Our mission - teach John to ski.  He is a basketball player. This means skiing has not been encouraged over the years by his coaches. 

After finding gear that actually fits, we mosy on over to the base of the lift.  Dale and I are shouting out instructions and words of encouragement. 

Predictably, not long into it, John topples over.

I say - just flip your leg over, keep your ski tips pointed slightly up and parrallel and then using your poles just pull yourself up.

He can't.

I get down on the snow next to him, do the manuever and pop up.  See, do it just like that, I say.

He can't.

Over and over this pattern goes.   Dale by now has left the scene (traitor). 

John is starting to sweat and finally tells me to go away and leave him alone.

I ski off in a huff.  From the lift watch him take his skis off, stand up and put them back on. 

As you can see  by the picture, I had been skiing pretty much as long as I'd been walking.  I was experienced and had good technique.  I was not just giving verbal instructions, but got down and demonstrated.  Multiple times.  And John was extremely athletic.  So what was the problem.

Well, for starters on a good day, I was almost 5'4.  And John was 6'8.

Among other things, my skiis and poles were two feet shorter.

Here's the point.

We humans learn through emulation.  We identify someone who has a skillset we admire.  And then we try to follow their example.

The trial lawyer culture is premised on this learning model.

But at the end of the day, imitation will only get you so far.