The Power of Passion

It was cold and windy – perhaps the most difficult impediments to outdoor winter fun.

Together, my kids and I sat side-by-side, hunched over the safety bar, staring vacantly at the wind-swept ice masquerading as a ski slope passing below our feet. To our right, the Beech trees separating the Black Diamond Chute from its neighbor bent gracefully towards us, letting the cold, gusting wind to its job.

No words were necessary. We came to ski. We were going to ski.

And so we did, somehow finding joy in the battle against the elements. That night, exhausted from a day of fighting Mother Nature, we slept soundly while something magical happened outside. The cold front that brought the wind and wicked temperatures the day before dumped a foot of fresh snow late in the night, which meant we woke to that most treasured of times--a powder day.

As my family will be quick to tell you, “There are no friends on a powder day.”

Instead, it’s each man, woman, boy, girl for himself/herself.

If your eight-year-old daughter takes a digger in the fresh snow and loses a ski, you are under no obligation to help her until the powder is skied off. If you’ve made the smart decision to trade your skis for a snowboard and, as a result, can absolutely rip down even the steepest of runs, outpacing all ages and genders, you are not under any obligation to wait for your family or friends to catch up. You just grab more powder runs for yourself.

I once tried to explain this concept to a non-skier. She looked at me funny and told me it was the most self-centered thing she’d ever heard and asked me to kindly leave her presence.

As I read through the last few sentences, I can see how she might feel that way, but if she were to dig deeper--say by sitting hunched over a safety bar enduring a cold, windy ride to the top of an ice-covered hill--she would know that skiers are a passionate bunch. We endure days, sometimes whole seasons, of challenging conditions for that rare chance to rip up fresh powder.

And, when that day finally comes, we as a group have given ourselves permission to enjoy it without restraint. On those rare powder days, you can hear hooting, hollering and howls of gut-belly laughter ringing out across the hill or mountain. It’s amazing.

I bring this up because as a society, we’re finding that passion is the biggest driver of success in any field. Yes, you have to have some inherent ability. Yes, you have to be smart enough to carry out the tasks required by your avocation. But, most importantly, you need to be willing to work--a lot.

Like 10,000 hours. Social scientists (see Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell) are finding that outrageously successful people all had one thing in common--they put an incredible amount of time into becoming superior at their chosen craft. And, in order to be motivated to put that much time in, you need passion.

As you read through this issue, pay careful attention to the words our contributors use and, more importantly, the tone with which they speak. I think you’ll find they are an incredibly passionate bunch--passionate enough to share their knowledge with you. It’s what I love about the parks and recreation field.

None of us are likely to get rich, but all of us are likely to have a powder day or two in our careers--those times when we finally get smoking banned in our parks or that new, paved trail installed along a scenic river.

When that happens, I urge you to remember one tried-and-true rule – “There are no friends on a powder day.”

Hoot. Holler. Laugh. Run. Go crazy.

You deserve it.

Till next month…

Rodney J. Auth


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