Life & Snowboarding’s Big Question: Are You All In?

This should have been the 3rd part of the meditation series, but since realising I have nothing more to say on the matter, it’s not. Sorry folks.

Ahhhhh… January.

What a splendid time of transition. One year to the next. Out with the old and in with the new.

And for university students, a blissful holiday after exam season.

And round these parts, a blissful holiday can mean only one thing. Snowboarding, baby!

So there I was, catching some powder up in the Cairngorms. And after 2 days of face-plants, jump-attempts and school-boy grins, it dawned on me….

Snowboarding is EXACTLY like the outside world. The snowboarding philosophy is so simple, and perfectly analogous to our lives, that I felt compelled to share it.

What can we learn from snowboarding?

Let’s go.

*You don’t need to go snowboarding to understand it. But if there was ever an excuse….

The Snowboarding Philosophy

Understanding the idea means understanding the becoming of a snowboarder. Let me explain.

The first stage of learning to snowboard is akin to learning to walk. You fall over. A LOT. In fact, pretty much all the time. Like a toddler swaying on two unsturdy legs, the major challenge is just standing up.

At this baby stage, exactly like in real-life, you can’t NOT get better. Why? Because you’re trying and failing all the time.

With each failure we learn. So with each failure, we get better. And slowly but surely, we’re able to stand and balance.

Then you try to steer. And stop. And again, it’s more trying and failing. But you can’t help it – you get better. And then, all of a sudden, you realise you’ve passed the baby stage. Congratulations bud!

But you’re not a snowboarder yet. The next test – “carving”, or high speed turning with the outside of your board. (A bit like parallel turning in skiing)

To master this, you can’t just count on nature’s autopilot alone. No, young grasshopper. Commit you must. Deliberate you must be.

What you’ve now got to do is embrace the challenge – give it 100% commitment or don’t bother trying.

Experience an awesome glory, a painful and hilarious failure, or… nothing at all.

Most people make it. They see everyone else doing it, they try themselves enough times, and soon they’ve got carving tucked under their belt.

Congratulations bud. You’re not a newb anymore. You can call yourself a boarder now. But those noobie gains are long gone.  Now everything has to be deliberate. You won’t get better by accident.

And so it is that I reach the whole point of this spiel.

Once you’ve learnt to carve, you could go on boarding for the rest of your days. Day after day, going down piste after piste, but ultimately never getting any better.


Because we stop trying. Because we’re good enough. Because it’s easy. Because easy is comfortable.

No risks. No falls. No pushing limits. No glorious failures. No satisfying triumphs.

Coming down at the end of the day saying “I never even fell once!”

Never even fell once.

And so the sacrificial toll for travelling the path of least resistance has been paid. Never even fell once, but never tasted glory or defeat. Never falling, but never getting any better.

This is the curse of comfort.

But fear not, friends. All is not lost. There IS a way. And the way, is All In.

You see that slightly scary jump just begging for some air time? Do it! All in!

You see that corner that looks a little too tight for flat-out speed? Flat out! All in!

Think that run is a little too steep for comfort? All in!

In embracing the “All in” approach, beautiful things happen.

And by beautiful things, I mean either;

  1. a) You fail in epic proportions; involves some degree of pain, short-term humiliation and short/long-term hilarity. You then receive an invaluable nugget as to how to get better next time from the boarding gods.
  2. b) You completely nail it, and feel like an absolute boss.

And if you don’t try? Then you get nothing at all.

These are the rules of improvement, and this is the way of life also.

It’s so easy for us to drift through life as we sometimes go down ski slopes – too comfortably. It may be comfortable, but it’s not satisfying. There ain’t no full-body aching and kid-in-a-candy-shop grins on the path of least resistance.

I say, let’s start taking the scarier path more often. And start embracing the pain and prizes that come with it.

On the slopes, it’s a constant mental battle with myself:

“Come on, Iain! Do it! ALL IN! Or are you too chicken?”

Sometimes, I’ll chicken out. Sometimes, I’ll go all in.

100% of the times I chicken out, I regret it. 100% of the times I go All In, I get hurt then laugh about it, or nail it and laugh about it.

After snowboarding, I realise that life is the same also. So why not carry the same mind-set everywhere?

Friends, I say this not to invite you to adopt an all-in attitude.

Instead, I invite you only to ask yourself the following question.

How are you boarding down the slopes of life?

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

As always, Dream Big Start Small!

Mucho love,


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