March 2021

Thoughts about…

Asking the Right Questions

To maintain my certification as a cross-country ski instructor I’m required to earn CEUs (continuing education credits) each year. This winter, due to Covid restrictions, I’ve been attending online snowsports-related webinars to log those CEUs. Many of the courses I’ve taken thus far have been based on developing teaching skills (not learning better ski technique, for example).

Last month I attended webinars about:

  • Working with people who display challenging behaviors
  • Implementing adaptive techniques to include and encourage underrepresented people in snowsports to come out and play in the snow
  • The future of teaching snowsports
  • Ways in which to build your clientele as a ski instructor
  • Recognizing the difference between internal and external cues when coaching, and how to effectively implement them

Common Goldeneye (male). February 16, 2021. © Jared Manninen

I imagine many people would find some of the above topics to be either boring or irrelevant to their lives. But, whenever I take one of these courses I’m always amazed at the ski industry’s willingness to embrace change by implementing progressive ideas.

I hate to admit it, but I had low expectations for that first webinar about dealing with challenging behaviors. Five minutes into it, though, I was pleasantly surprised at how intriguing the lesson was. In addition to being a long-time ski instructor, the presenter has been a therapist for over 30 years.

The webinar wasn’t about learning cookie cutter responses to beginner skiers who are scared, frustrated, or uninterested (for example) in their ski lesson. Although the presenter offered suggestions for dealing with those types of behaviors, those examples were primarily a vehicle to highlight her process of connecting with people.

The most important lesson that I learned in that course was that … our thoughts and beliefs lead to feelings and emotions which, then, manifest in a physical behavior. It’s these physical manifestations that we can address because they’re visible to us (unlike a person’s thoughts or feelings).

Cross-country skiing at Tahoe Donner Cross Country on February 20, 2021. © Jared Manninen

I had the same type of experience in one of the last webinars that I attended, which was about building our practice and increasing our clientele. Again, I had somewhat low expectations for that webinar. And at some point during the session I did begin to feel as if I was watching an infomercial or taking a crash course in learning to sell timeshares. However, there were enough elements of profound insight presented in the webinar that made it all worthwhile.

Essentially, building a successful business is the result of developing quality relationships with customers, partners, etc. At the heart of developing meaningful relationships is being able to make a deeper connection, having shared experiences, and working toward a common goal.

The entry point to most relationships is simply having a conversation, right? You meet a new co-worker at work. Someone signs up for the same class that you’re attending. You stop at the same location on the trail as another hiker to appreciate the landscape views. So if conversation is where most of our relationships begin, it stands to reason that if we want to develop a deeper connection we should probably start by asking the right questions.

Cross-country skiing in Hope Valley on February 22, 2021. © Jared Manninen

Knowing facts about people seldom leads to long-term relationships with deep connections. For example, for us to have a meaningful relationship does it truly matter whether or not I know what kind of car you drive, where you’re from, or how many siblings you have? Sure, all of these things can provide some insight about yourself but, in and of themselves, none of those facts truly tells your story.

Understanding a person’s thoughts, beliefs, and feelings gets closer to the mark. But if I don’t ask questions related to those internal aspects, I can’t know them. Again, they’re not visible without some sort of related physical behavior. That said, knowing a person’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and emotions alone are not enough to further your relationship.

You’re frustrated with your job, your spouse, your home life… Great. Now what?

You just took a pottery class and discovered you have a passion for making pots, mugs, and plates. Great. Now what?

Cross-country skiing in Hope Valley on February 23, 2021. © Jared Manninen

I don’t mean to sound dismissive. I realize that most people simply want to be heard. So registering your complaints or sharing your new found passions with me is fine. But even better would be for you to have an action plan attached to those thoughts and feelings that includes me so that I can help you move forward. I want to be of service. I want to help you accomplish your goals. I would love to build something together.

So the two most important questions to building meaningful relationships are…

What do you want, and how can I help you achieve it?

Again, I find it so interesting that all of this stuff was presented in an effort to make me (and the other attendees) better ski instructors!

Northern Harrier. March 3, 2021. © Jared Manninen

A long-term endeavor that I’m finally getting around to acting upon. I’ve been delinquent in producing art for the past few years (other than random projects here and there). So, I decided I better get on it!

My intention is to eventually sell this fun and easily digestible art (i.e. they’re just nice little pictures of birds, wildlife and other Sierra Nevada-related imagery), as well as to offer it as benefits for my Patreon account subscribers.

My latest cross-country skiing videos 🙂

Now that spring is right around the corner, I’m tapering off my production of winter-related videos. Now, I’m beginning to brainstorm some summer-related videos. Most likely I’ll produce a weekly hiking VLOG (similar to the xc ski one) and then some “how-to” videos related to hiking and backing.

Thanks for being a part of my life. Until next time…

-Jared Manninen

Tahoe Trail Guide is an online resource for hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing in the Lake Tahoe region. In addition to trail data, I offer backcountry “how-to” articles and information about the local and natural history of Tahoe. Tahoe Swag is a collection of art and design products I create based on my love of the outdoors and appreciation for Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Support Tahoe Trail Guide with a financial contribution via PayPal (single contribution) or Patreon (reoccurring contributions). Your support of Tahoe Trail Guide is very much appreciated!

If you like any of the images I post in these newsletters, please contact me. I’d be more than happy to upload them to my RedBubble account so that you can order prints and other merchandise featuring the images.

Categories: Newsletters
Tags: #2021

Comments (2)

  • Eric Graham . March 4, 2021 . Reply

    Thanks, Jared.

    As always your work is:
    Inspirational. And,
    A clear reminder of how important Wilderness is to each of us and to our confused world.

    The High Sierras (and especially the Tahoe Basin) need you!

    Eric G

    • (Author) Jared Manninen . March 5, 2021 . Reply


      You’re too kind 🙂

      Thanks so much for the nice feedback. And, I do miss seeing you guys on my way to and from doing the cabin checks!
      I hope you’re doing well, and keep in touch!

      Jared 🙂

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