Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fundraising!? Who the hell do you think you are, asking for money!

Today I was talking with a very good friend about perception. We were talking about team tryouts, and what the perception of each of us is, currently, how accurate we think it is or isn't, and what we can work on to help be clearer in our intention, so that perception of each of us lines up more accurately with who we feel we really are.

She mentioned to me that when I put my fundraising goal for the season up on Facebook (it's going to cost about 18,500 to meet my training goals this year) that there was this stunned silence, a surprise that I would "ask for money". I asked my friend what the perception was that was created from that, and she said, "well, there's this perception that you are asking for money."

"Well, that's an accurate perception, then, because that's exactly what I'm doing." she laughed, we are more in line than I had thought.

"but it's a negative perception, so why is that? Can you help me understand why raising money for a goal is negative?" I asked.

"Because that's not how it's done. No one has ever done that in a public way before." she answered.

That makes sense. I mean, I had no idea that it "wasn't done" to raise money to meet your training goals.

I shared with my friend what my perspective was, and we agreed that I might write it up so that folks who were upset or confused about it might hear, from the horses mouth, what the heck I think I'm doing.

In the world of competative athletics, art or dance, If you have a goal, say of making the olympic team, you work your butt off until you get some backing so that you can quit the real world and dedicate all your time and effort to training towards that goal.

There is no such thing as a part time olympic hopeful athlete. Plenty of them work jobs as well as training full time. Just like in politics, those who are more well funded have a better shot at making it, because they have better resources and more time to dedicate to training.

This is not an indiction that this person thinks they are more worthy than any other person. This means that the athlete in question, like all of his peers, are willing to work as hard as they can to do the best that they can. Their journey, in fundraising, training, or attempting to qualify is not a reflection on those around them and their worthiness or journey, but simply a dedication to their own goal.

Over the last five years, I have been fortunate enough to have a huge group of very supportive people cheering me on as I go down this path. Openly talking about my desire to be on the team was also audacious, it wasn't something that was done. But I grew up in a world where you stated your goal and then worked hard toward it. Being an Olympic hopeful was something you said out loud and easily, it helped your coaches understand what your goals were and how they should train you.

I myself was a coach for years of world cup and recreational rock climbers. I tailored my coaching to each client according to their goals, I understood how hard to push them according to how far they wanted to go.

Because I stated that I, like so much of our well deserving membership in PSIA, would love to have the job of being on the team and helping inspire instructors all over the country to be passionate teachers who connect well with their clients and other instructors, out loud and in public (via my blog), I was fortunate to find a community of people who were doing the same, training hard to meet their goal, whether that was making the level 2, going for your full cert at 56, or just becoming a ski teacher again after leaving it for so many years. Slowly, the community branded out to include other sports as well.

This amazing community came together and began talking to each other, and it includes cyclists, slack liners, climbers, surfers, buddhist monks, writers, and parents. It includes x games competitors and long distance runners. It includes athletes that excel at a level I could never hope to attain. And all of them talk about the idea of going for a dream with out apology, but with humility, integrity, pulling as many people up along the way as they can.

Along the way, I've been fortunate enough to make relationships with some companies who find value in the community of positive growth that has grown here. It's not about me and my journey, but I'm grateful to represent a huge group of people, more than I ever could have imagined, as we all chase our individual dreams, and believe that we can make a difference.

Those companies support me towards a goal that has traditionally been hard won in silence and suffering. I can not, and could never, have come as far as I've come along my path without the generous donation of gear and funds that people have seen value in contributing.

As a single mom starting a new career in a new town, it has been along financial struggle for me. As it has for so many people who choose to become professional ski instructors. We don't do this because we Hope to become rich. In fact, many of us have left much more lucrative caresses in order to share the passion and joy of playing in the mountains.

Because of that, most of us find creative solutions, we live frugally, we have second, third and even fourth jobs. We are waiters and writers and physicists and window washers, while at the same time spending all of our free time reading, studying and practicing the thing that we are passionate about: skiing, or mountain biking, or cycling or tennis.

We operate as mentors and friends, trusted resources to the people who come to us for advice in our sport, and because we have an obligation to those who trust us to teach them to improve, we have an obligation to ourselves to become excellent, to have a depth of knowledge that is accurate, deep, and ever improving. We have an obligation to be fit, strong, to be able to demonstrate effectively that which we know intuitively or through study. We practice the art of sharing ideas, of infecting our students, be they other instructors or the general public though classes in public speaking, acting, presentation and play.

Because I am grateful to my community, I feel, in this last year of training before the tryout, that it is my obligation to find creative ways to dedicate as much of my time, effort and energy to training as possible. You have been with me, and I with you guys, through thick and thin, and this is it. There are about 230 days to the tryout.

It can be another year of hoping I have enough money to participate in the RMT, and wait until the day before to know if I've saved the funds to do it, or I can do what is done in so many other endeavors: make a business palm, calculate the realistic cost of what an adequate training program would be, and raise funds ahead of time, ensuring to my friends, family, sponsors and readers that I really will give it my all. That when I show up in April, I will have brought all that I have to give.

Whether what I bring is enough for the team or not is another story. I'll either have what it takes, what they need, or I won't, just like in every other selection. You can only bring what you have. But you do have control over how complete and well Rounded that which you bring is.

In other elite endeavors, there are programs in place that help athletes dedicate all of their time, effort and energy into being as successful as possible. There are scholarships to be won and training centers to live at. When you live at a training center, they put out the goal, and a path to that goal. As you work toward that goal, you can earn more support as the governing body sees value in you and helps clear the path along the way.

In ski teaching, this structure just does not exist. It's a solitary endeavor. No wonder it takes so many very very talented people 20 years of hard hard work, dedication and training to make it to a tryout. If you live on a shoe string, raising a family while you dedicate yourself to a job that breaks even if you aren't in training, and depletes the family savings if you are, not to mention taking time and energy away from your relationships, you only have so many resources in time and money that you can dedicate to your goal.

If you, like the dancers in many local ballet companies, come to a place in your training where you are willing to dedicate all your time and energy hopping to achieve a level of excellence that allows you to giveback to the greater whole, through teaching, or artistic expression, you find a benefactor or six who believe in the value of what you might bring if you achieve your dream.

to that end, it's not that I think I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread, and I deserve to raise money while other people struggle. I think that we should all be supported in our endeavors! I hope that this project has raised awareness in the community that will help others who come after me to have a clearer path to training.

I do think that I owe it to my family, my community, the companies who believe in me and to myself to work as hard as I can, so that I come with everything I have to give. And I cant do it alone. And neither canny of the other very worthy, more qualified candidates than myself.

I hope over the years to help build a program in PSIA which functions this way for all instructors who are striving to share their passion with skiers everywhere. I would love to see a program that encourages, nationally, and values instructors, supports them, gives them a training center to go to, encouragement, emotional and financial support to chase their dreams.

It would be amazing to ferret out talent all over the country, and let those incredible teachers get the training their feet need, and get the incredible skiers the training their teaching needs.

How wonderful would it be to open up the field to the teams coach and manager, so that the plethora of seriously viable candidates was deep because people who are willing to work hard are not encumbered by the difficulty of committing all their time and money to struggling though the process on their own?

The sheer will and determination of those who show up at his process every year is inspiring. And while the process had changed this year, limiting the number of candidates that will be invited, the drive to be a viable invitee will still exist.

So to my friends and family who have stuck with me though this insane journey, thank you. And to those of you who have welcomed me into the skiing community, schooling me along the way, thank you! And to those of you who have told me the truth, felt brave enough or angry enough to have an honest, fierce conversation with me when I do something in a non traditional way, thank you so much. I am humbled by those teachings, and the ones that are hardest to swallow are usually the ones that are most valuable.

I'm so grateful for the teachers in my life, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to grow and become. I plan to work harder this year than ever before, And I'm grateful for the opportunity to belong to such an inspiring group of people. The national team has been inspiration for so many people for so many years, and I'm grateful to the teams, past and present that lit the fire in me.

Regardless of the results, I'm so grateful for the journey, and i want to give it all that I have. This is why I raise money for my training. This is why I'm happy to help you raise money for your training. And if it was surprising to see me put it out there, because while it's done in other sports, in business, in creative endeavors, it's not done (yet) in PSIA, I'm sorry to have taken you by surprise.

Thank you so much for your time, dedication and energy, for the lessons, positive and negative. I'm grateful.





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1 comment:

Aaron Schultz said...

You go Kate! I choose to leave my instruction career a long time ago because it was too difficult financially. Good luck reaching your goals.