Originally Posted by epic
As a coach I am sometimes baffled by the need that people have to argue with their coach or to keep bringing up past lessons. You just paid XX hundred dollars to take a lesson from me. How about go with it for a little while and see shat happens, how about try what I am saying. On teh other hand, you and I both know that I can't possibly be "right" all of the time.
Epic, this is very interesting to me because I think it speaks to why my track record with lessons has been so poor.
Everything you say makes total sense to me intellectually, when I attempt to put myself in your place. When I put my "consumer of lessons" hat on, though, things look a lot different.
For you, a lesson is something you do multiple times a day, over the course of a long season, multiplied by many seasons. Each coaching hour is only a minor data point. An experiment. One star in a galaxy. The duties of this one star are very light. You are fundamentally interested in the shape and brilliance of the galaxy, not in the individual star. One star may be dim, one bright; one a breakthrough; one stillborn. Each is a learning experience. You come at lessons from the point of view that a skier improves his or her skiing with hundreds or even thousands of coaching sessions, because that's what YOU do, and what your role models do.
For me, a lesson has historically been a special occasion that I do once a year or even less often. It's a splurge. A hundred bucks plus for an hour and a half of epic's wisdom. It's like going out to an anniversary dinner at Ten Acres Lodge. I have high expectations. I feel like I need to be getting my money's worth. I only have these 90 minutes until next year. It's not an experiment; it's a business transaction: my money for your genius. If ten or fifteen minutes go by and I'm not feeling the magic, I'm pulling the red handle and trying put things back on track. "This soup isn't even hot."
You can argue that my expectations are totally unrealistic. That no one learns how to do anything well with that kind of approach. That if I have the attitude described above I probably really can't afford your lessons in the first place. Or maybe I can afford them, but it means rearranging priorities: I should be taking the money I'm spending to attend the Gathering in Jackson and give the money to you for a couple hours a day instead, while I spend the week sleeping in a VW microbus in the Spruce parking lot. I get it. You're absolutely right. I'm sure you are. Sincerely. But the reality is that most skiers who aren't made of money are going to make the same choices I do. So to me the disconnect is very easy to understand, even though I agree with you that it's wrong-headed.
<sidebar role="me in epic's shoes">
In the distant past I sold more than one very pricey bottle of wine for "a very special occasion" to someone with limited experience, only to have him complain later that it did not turn out to be anywhere near as good as he expected. I then found myself in a difficult place, struggling to explain that you can't just walk up to a pretty young data point, without some minimal level of tasting context built up over time, and count on falling in love with her just because some pro says she's special. You MIGHT, of course. Then again you might NOT, because you don't understand what makes her bright in her constellation of wine stars.
Customer: "I was expecting something much bigger and richer."
Me: "It's a Volnay. Volnays aren't big wines."
Customer: "But I paid $75 for that bottle!"
Me: "I remember talking with you about what you were having for dinner. You were having roast chicken. Did you not think it went well with the chicken?"
Customer: "I guess so, but I was expecting something with a lot more power. Something dark and lush."
Me: "Why were you expecting that?"
Customer: "Isn't that what you're paying for when you buy a fancy bottle of red wine?"
Me: [in a quiet voice, hesitating, almost ducking] "Um. No."
Customer: "Well what am I paying for?"
Anyway, lest you think I am a total philistine on this topic, I am headed off to a three-day ski camp later in the winter, so the message from all you instructor types is having its effect.