A white Christmas

To quote a certain Mr Crosby, I’m dreaming of  a white Christmas – specifically, the one I’ve recently returned from.

The Oz family spent a fantastic week, up to and including Christmas day, skiing with our friends in a place called Pila in the Val d’Aosta in Italy. And I have to say it was the dog’s wotsits (for those of you unfamiliar with this quaint English expression, suffice it to say that a) I’ve toned it down a bit and b) it means it was excellent).

Not that the trip was completely stress-free. With a week or so to go there was no snow – not ideal for a skiing holiday. But a couple of days before we were due to leave it arrived in spades, with the words “dumping powder” on the snow reports bringing unbridled joy to a previously ever-so-slightly tense Osborne household. And it didn’t disappoint, with some of the best conditions I’ve experienced in my long and illustrious skiing career.

Now, at the risk of appearing to blow my own trumpet, I have to say that I’m actually not a bad skier. Being the modest soul that I am, I usually describe myself as a half-decent intermediate, but I can generally hold my own when out on the piste. However, having not skied for almost two years, it’s fair to say that I was a tad rusty and I have to admit that I struggled to get it together for the first day and a bit. I was aware of a couple of things I was doing wrong – for instance, I learned to ski back in the mists of time, well before the advent of today’s new-fangled ‘carver’ skis and I already knew that I skied ‘the old-fashioned way’ with my skis too close together. I also knew I was doing one or two other things wrong, but I was struggling to work out exactly what.

Cue Carole, the owner/manager of the holiday company that we went with (PilaSki, who I can’t speak highly enough of – check them out at www.pilaski.co.uk and tell Carole that Oz sent you), who also happens to be a qualified ski instructor. As well as being our in-resort rep, she also acted as our ski guide for the week and on day two she had a bit of a look at me and gave me a few pointers (she hadn’t yet registered with the local ski school for this season so she wasn’t allowed to teach me, so I’d just like to point out, quite categorically that this was, in no way, shape or form, a lesson).

I won’t bore you with the details, but she basically took my technique to pieces then put it back together again. It was ever-so-slightly demoralising at first, realising that quite so many faults had crept in, but over the course of a couple of hours she explained where I was going wrong and what I needed to do to put things right. And the results were astounding. I found that one or two things I’d been struggling with for a good few years finally made sense and, more importantly, finally started working properly. And in the space of a couple of days I went from half-decent intermediate to something approaching a proper skier (in my mind at any rate).

Interestingly, I’d had the odd private lesson here and there over the past few years – each time with a qualified instructor who spoke passable English. I’d also watched the odd video and read the odd book and tried to put what I’d seen or read into practice. But despite all that, I still hadn’t really got it together properly.

Now admittedly Carole’s originally from Glasgow, but even allowing for that her English is much more fluent than those other instructors (sorry Carole – and to any other Glaswegians reading this – I just couldn’t resist that one). What she was able to do that they weren’t was to explain things fully and in detail, and to get across subtleties that they were unable to. Most of all, she was able to explain the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’.

And that’s a really import point. We can all read books and watch videos, or take advice from ‘experts’, but there really is no substitute for some proper training from a proper expert who’s able to explain things properly, in practical terms (not that my session with Carole was in any way a lesson, you understand).

The other important point is that things do change over time and we have to keep abreast of new thinking and new techniques, as well as new equipment and facilities, if we’re to remain effective.

Both of these points are just as applicable to business continuity or risk management (and many other things for that matter) as they are to skiing.

I’m really grateful to Carole for her help – with the pre-holiday arrangements, with her attentiveness to her clients (i.e. us) during the holiday itself and with the skiing tips that she gave me (particularly in view of the fact that she wasn’t able to give me a lesson, which, as should now be clear, she absolutely didn’t do). My only complaint is that she’s so bloody cheerful all the time! – even at 4:30 in the morning on the day of our departure – but then she does get to ski every day, so I suppose it’s understandable.

We had a fabulous holiday and I’m sure we’ll go back to Pila in the not too distant future. If you’re into skiing, I’d recommend Pila and PilaSki to you too (don’t forget to tell Carole that Oz sent you!)

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Agree? Disagree? Want to share your own thoughts or opinions? 

Post a comment and let me know what you think.

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Andy Osborne (known as Oz to friends and colleagues) is the Consultancy Director at Acumen, a consultancy practice specialising in business continuity and risk management.

Andy is the author of two books ‘Practical Business Continuity Management‘ and ‘Risk Management Simplifiedas well as his popular blogs and ‘Tips of the Month’, all of which aim to demystify the subjects of business continuity and risk management and make them more accessible to people who live in the real world.

You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyatAcumen and link with him on LinkedIn at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/andyosborneatacumen

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