Great stories, none of them surprising but all of them fascinating. You guys observe common traits/skills/abilities in everyone from ballerinas to Navy Seals... great insights.
I'm not an instructor so this is a thread-jack, but I'll offer my nephew. He'd skied a little back East but mostly just schlepped around, never really motivated... maybe a Level 4+. One year the family met at Vail for a week and my sister asked if I'd ski with him. "Sure," I said, "if HE wants to." He was 13yo and his options were to ski with his totally novice step-dad, mom and grams or Uncle Doug... poor kid. I won.
I started us off on an long but very easy blue, to get a sense of where he was and to let him get comfortable with the scale of the place. On each lift ride I offered him one tip or question to think about, just one. I also very gradually ramped up the terrain difficulty, each run carefully gauged to be just slightly harder than the one before. As we coursed our way from West to East across the front face I watched his skills and attitude grow. No more scowling adolescent, he forgot he was supposed to be miserable and started having FUN. He opened up, we talked, he asked questions, we skied.
For the last run he had another choice, take an easy green switchback or attack a pretty steep, black diamond bump run with sketchy cover, significantly tougher than anything we'd yet skied. (I'd chosen his decision point carefully, the lodge we were heading for was visible so he knew there was safety at the bottom.)
"Your choice," I said.
"Which way are you going?" he asked.
"That way", I pointed (down).
Brief hesitation, then, "Okay, follow me and pick up the pieces!" he yelled... and ripped it.
His form was still barely Level 7 but his attitude was a 10. Best ski day of my life.
You pros must love days like that.