My Experience on Ski Patrol

In 1989, I was on the ski patrol staff at Mammoth Mountian, but I only lasted a few weeks because I couldn’t ski well, a vital skill for working on a mountain. I spent most of my days fixing fences or adjusting pads on lift towers. It was not a good career fit.

When I moved to Mammoth, I lived in San Diego on Mission Beach and worked a mindless job at Bank of America. My roommate said he was moving to Mammoth to join their ski patrol, so I went with him on his journey. He knew what he was getting into, but I did not. He grew up ski racing in Tahoe and was about as close to a professional skier as you can get. He taught me to ski and said the only way to learn was to ride the lift to the top of the mountain and ski down – on-the-job training, and was it ever! I love the outdoors, so working with the ski patrol made sense.

I had recently graduated from college and did not have any direction or goals. I was like a ship without a rudder, so every opportunity sounded exciting. My grandfather’s motto was fake it until you make it, and it worked well for him, so I thought I would have the same experience. Not so. I needed a plan and structure. My few weeks on the mountain were fun, but I felt guilty because I was not utilizing my college degree. At the time, I felt the only way to succeed financially was to work in business, so I quit and returned to Los Angeles to start my career as a stock broker.

Here are a few takeaways from my time working with the ski patrol.

  • Goals are essential, and direction matters. Knowing where you’re going is vital. A ski map is necessary for a fun and safe ski day. The maps are detailed with color-coded ski runs to help you gauge your risk level, and if you get lost, the ski patrol will rescue you and get you home safely.
  • Planning is paramount. A plan keeps your goals in line, allowing you to focus on what’s important. It also permits you to say no to things that distract you from achieving your goals.
  • Know your risk level. When I moved to Mammoth, I was over my skis and was taking too much risk. I was outside my comfort zone, and it was a difficult job because I felt insecure in my abilities. It’s crucial to align your risk tolerance to your goals.
  • Quit. It’s okay to quit and cut your losses. I resigned from the ski patrol after realizing it would not work out. Cutting your losses can pay dividends and free up your time to focus on things where you can succeed.
  • Review. After cutting your losses, reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Spend time analyzing your move, and try to learn from your mistake. Every loss or mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow.

To succeed as an investor, focus on your goals, follow your plan, know your risk level, cut your losses, and review your strategy.

A pair of skis are the ultimate transportation to freedom. ~ Warren Miller

October 21, 2023

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level.

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