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Leapers & Creepers

post #1 of 106
Thread Starter 
There is a school of thought, said to be founded on neurobiology, that states that people fall into one of two groups: leapers and creepers. The leapers have an attraction to risk and the creepers are risk-averse. The theory is that some people are born with lower endorphin levels than others; the lowered endorphin state is uncomfortable, so people feel the need to stimulate the brain by scaring themselves enough to yank the endorphins up to a comfortable level. Those whose brains are normally bathed in plenty of endorphins become very uncomfortable when they scare themselves--apparently too high an endorphin level is as undesirable as too little.

The leaper-creeper theory seems to hold up with athletics. One would think that skiing, which is promoted as a risk sport from the makers of Mtn. Dew to the legal eagles who craft the disclaimers on the back of lift tickets, would be stacked with leapers.


Assuming you find the theory to be credible, has conventional ski instruction taken into account the natural bias of our population to leap and not to creep? Are lessons perceived as holding leapers to a creeper's pace? (Rather than the intended perception of facilitating great leaps and breakthroughs.) Could this be an explanation for why so few skiers take lessons once they can navigate safely? Are the very notions of progression and linear transfer (going from the known to the unknown) an artifact of a bygone era, along with final forms and the "official American ski technique"? Should we de-emphasize the "perfect turn" and instead focus on getting people skiing their target terrain?

An associated note: I read in this week's Forbes that scientists studying the psychology of successful entrepreneurs found that:

1. They have trouble imagining failure.

2. They don't care what other people think about them.

Further, they concluded that it wasn't that entrepreneurs were necessarily bigger risk-takers than non-entrepreneurs:

Only a subtle difference in the way they appreciate risk emerged. The entrepreneurs are worse at coming up with reasons they might fail. "Being able to generate more unpleasant possibilities might be making non-entrepreneurs more afraid," Shaver says, but we don't know that.

So far there is one other big difference between those who go into business for themselves and those who don't, Shaver says. Entrepreneurs don't care what other people think about them. "They really don't care as much," Shaver says. "They're just happy to go ahead and do what they're doing."
It seems to me that 1 & 2 are characteristics that would serve someone who wanted to be really good at skiing, whether a leaper or a creeper.

What do you think?
post #2 of 106
Nolo, an interesting post especially since I've had a private exchange with a friend and Epic contributor this morning about the limits of the traditional teaching model and thinking (stemming from the thread on "technology as teacher"). So I offer a qualified response of yes to your questions about the mis-direction of "conventional" ski instruction. I think the basis of success of some of the all-mountain programs such as All Mountain Ski Pros and Extrememly Canadian is rooted in an alternative philosophy you touch upon. My own feeling is that there are more effective skier development models to be developed that are broader in scope than most of what we see today - which from my way of thinking are mostly based on economic or business models. Of course these alternative models should include formal ski instruction but are not limited to such.

I would be remiss not to also say that individualities are always a critical component and need to be a center-post for any skier development program.
post #3 of 106
I think that even though the leapers take risks they still want to control as much of the situation as possible. They will move forward in situations that would cause many to pause, but it's because they are confident that they can control what may happen.
post #4 of 106
I took my instructor training twenty-five years ago in the East. At that time we discussed the possibility of splitting groups not only by skiing level but also by learning styles. In a perfect world we could also split out by leapers and creepers. Unfortunately we, at my ski area anyway, seldom are able to split at all! We dance with whom they brung us!

Maybe the question is do instructors recognize this difference and exploit it to the advantage of the student? [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #5 of 106
This is really interesting!!! Pierre once said that he thinks my conservative skiing style is based on the fact that doing constant aerobics on a daily basis leaves me at a constantly high endorphin/adreniline level, so that if I ski something too scary it seems like I'm going into adreniline overload. Interesting food for thought!
post #6 of 106
Frequently while splitting large groups we do it by "so, who wants to go fast and ski hard!" Given that it's usually about a 50/50 split I don't think it's an attribute of skiers/non-skiers at all. There are lots of good skiers who would consider themselves "safe" skiers.

Is this the same spit as experience/performance from The Yikes Zone?

re: entrepreneurs. I work a lot with people starting businesses, helping them raise venture capital, doing business plans, etc. My assessment is that entrepreneurs are NOT risk takers, rather they are risk averse in that the best ones carefully assess their risk beforehand and have contingency plans, just in case.

Entrepreneurs I categorize as "skeptical optimists"
post #7 of 106
Thread Starter 
WV Skier, That's what the study found too, that entrepreneurs weren't necessarily risk-lovers. What interested me was what they found to be the common traits, particularly that the successful entrepreneur doesn't develop much of a picture of how the enterprise could fail, and the postulate that people who don't jump in with both feet maybe fixate on the bad outcome rather than the successful outcome. Shades of the self-fulfilling prophecy! People who assume success won't quit.

Surely perseverance is a third trait of successful entrepreneurs and skiers, right behind not giving anyone the right to do their thinking for them.
post #8 of 106
Originally posted by nolo:
Surely perseverance is a third trait of successful entrepreneurs and skiers, right behind not giving anyone the right to do their thinking for them.
I would agree with everything you have said except the latter. Giving people the responsibility and letting them think for themselves and make decisions is a management decision having little to do with the entrepreneurship. What has a lot to do with the entrepreneur is the strength of personality that I believe tends to overwhelm some people and then those people will not make their own decisions. The key then is to not make their decisions for them. Now where the entrepreneur may fall short is a lack patience to allow the process to happen and then they may jump in too soon.

Sounds like somebody I know anyway.

post #9 of 106
Thread Starter 
That was a bad turn of phrase. I was trying to restate that entrepreneurs don't care what other people think about them--i.e., they do their own thinking. I take this to mean that they don't let what other people say or do get in the way of their progress. Do good skiers also exhibit this trait? I think so.
post #10 of 106
This is interesting stuff. I'm definitely a creeper, and have come to specialise in teaching scared/cautious people. So, having worked on Excess Verbosity this season, my next thing to work on might be catering to the gung-ho!
When we split mid to upper level groups, my preferred way (pragmatically) is to split by gung-ho versus "take it easier".

A thing I've noticed, particularly this season, is that a lot of guys feel it's essential to be challenged in order to progress. But when they expose their kids/partners to this, the result is not what they expected. Is it a male/female thing, do you reckon, or a creeper/leaper thing?
(The result, I should clarify, is partner/kids in tears or terrified, and not progressing *anywhere*).
post #11 of 106
I must be the SUPER CREEPER as well as the SUPER GUMBY then!

Yep ANT - you have no idea how many women keep telling me - or emailing me after I admitted my fear on snowinfo - about how they could NEVER do what I do(gave up skiing after a bad experience being dragged down a hill) - or how damn terrified they are when they are being forced to do it.
If I am meeting this many - how many are there out there?
post #12 of 106
Thread Starter 
What attracts a creeper to a risk sport? (Being as it is counter-intuitive.)

Do you think creepers are likelier to be female?

Do you think PSIA's Stepping Stones addresses the leaper-creeper problem satisfactorily?

Does PMTS have "slow track" and "fast track" options?
post #13 of 106
Nolo - can't answer the last 3

Re the first one - CONTROL - I am a control freak.

Also my longest running instructor says "You like being in your comfort zone, but you are smart enough to know you need to be out of it"

I do have to ask though - what attracts anyone to skiing - do the LEAPERS see skiing as inherently risky BEFORE they start to ski & hence choose this as a sport? Or do they love how it feels? & then it provides their "adrenalin" needs so they keep at it & keep heading for bigger & bigger drops/steeps etc.

I would think that the attractions are similar for a beginner skier to get there to start with. Then again maybe that is an Oz thing - BUSLOADS of Queenslanders make the epic journey to snow every season - many are beginners & have never seen snow before. It is a LONG bus ride - yet they still come. Is it purely for the risk? They could rock climb in their capital city on the rivers cliffs. Damn - they could just swim in a water hole at night up north & wait for the crocodile!
post #14 of 106
Originally posted by ant:
A thing I've noticed, particularly this season, is that a lot of guys feel it's essential to be challenged in order to progress. But when they expose their kids/partners to this, the result is not what they expected. Is it a male/female thing, do you reckon, or a creeper/leaper thing?
I definitely make the most improvements when I'm challenged, and I also fall into the 'leaper' category. I have a few friends (male and female) who don't like to be challenged though, and their reactions do surprise me even though I've known them long enough that I should expect it. (i.e. When skiing a steep chute in difficult snow conditions, my friend will say "This sucks, I'm never doing this again!" when I was just thinking, "I'm doing this run over and over again until I'm skiing it well and feeling comfortable with it.") Mind you, he just skied the run more smoothly than I did. And I've sometimes wondered how on earth this guy got to be such a good skier if he gives up when something's challenging him. (He would NEVER admit to giving up - just that something is a 'waste of time' or 'not fun anyway'. But obviously he has his own system for learning that has gotten him to be as successful as he is with sports, it just doesn't seem to match the way I do things.

Although at first thought, I wouldn't have classified the guy as a creeper, since if you were dividing up ski categories he would definitely go for the 'gung-ho' group, but that is more dictated by his ego than his learning style. I bet there are a quite a few men out there who are like that - difficult to classify because they don't want to admit they don't like being challenged?

[ October 24, 2002, 07:59 AM: Message edited by: altagirl ]
post #15 of 106
Thread Starter 
I think first you have to ask why a nonskier chooses to take up the sport. I am postulating that there's some forethought involved before a person decides to go for the first time. I guess that the initial YES is because the media image strikes a resonant chord with the would-be skier. The media image appears calculated to appeal to juvenile delinquents.

From the article in Forbes:

The first steps psychologists took toward understanding entrepreneurs were based on anecdote, not experiment. Alexander Zelaznick, a professor emeritus of psychology at Harvard Business School, says years of interviewing entrepreneurs led him to the dramatic conclusion that they simply did not feel risk, or weigh consequences, in the same way as other people. "To understand the entrepreneur," Zelaznick told The New York Times in 1986, "you first have to understand the psychology of the juvenile delinquent."

Ultimately I am wondering if the "barriers to entry" in skiing have less to do with the hassle-factor, the fear-factor, or the cost than they do the brain of the beholder.
post #16 of 106
I took up the sport in 5th grade because my friends were doing it. Not very helpful, huh?
post #17 of 106
Thread Starter 
Actually that's very helpful. Colorado and Utah ski areas do great *free* introductory programs for 5th graders, I believe. They *may* be tied to scholastic achievement. You are saying they're targeting the right group. *means I'm not sure of the veracity of that detail*
post #18 of 106
I started skiing at Mt. Brighton in Michigan, but they do have programs like that here in Utah as well. And I've heard they are often tied to scholastic achievement. My parents would never gotten me started if they didn't have reduced rates and transportation for the ski club I participated in through my elementary school in Michgan. (They're not skiers.)
post #19 of 106
I’ve been leaping even before I could turn.

I took up skiing because I’ve always enjoyed the snow and liked watching skiing on TV, especially that ABC Sports clip where the ski jumper had that horrendous looking spill off the ski jump.

I am definitely a leaper. When I was about 10, I expressed the desire to ski. No one else in my immediate family skied, but I had some cousins who did, and they were happy to give me an old pair of wooden skis with cable bindings and replaceable steel edges.

Off to the back yard I went in my leather boots and wooden skis. There wasn’t much of a hill in the yard, but I was able to extend my run by using some of my neighbor’s real estate. Shortly thereafter, I built a jump because I thought that would be fun. And it was, until I broke the damn wooden skis.

Alas, mom realized I really liked this skiing thing, and off to the shop we went for some real gear. God bless her soul for that! The rest, my friends, is self-taught history. I’m still thinking about taking that first lesson, although I did learn to turn a while ago….
post #20 of 106
Surely perseverance is a third trait of successful entrepreneurs and skiers, right behind not giving anyone the right to do their thinking for them.
And, way behind giving them first tracks on a powder day!

I'm heading to Killington on Saturday for my first tracks!
post #21 of 106
Thread Starter 
First tracks are earned! Get outta my way.
post #22 of 106
I also agree with the fact that entrepreneurs are not risk takers. They have vision and determination, but they always look for ways to minimize risk. In fact, risk management is the reason why entrepreneurs are worse at coming up with reasons they might fail. They simply try to eliminate most reasons why they might fail.

As for skiing lessons, it should not be targeted to leapers unless they know how to leap. Beginners who are initially creepers as far as skiing is concerned, need lessons that build skills before confidence. Leapers (who presumably have good skills) need lessons that build confidence so that they can exploit their skills to the max. Note that I don't believe that you can be a leaper and have no skill. In skiing, a true leaper with no skill is basically an accident waiting to happen. :
post #23 of 106
I appear to be a cleeper. And a juvenile delinquent.
post #24 of 106
Nolo, and others good thread.
Weems, Cleeper. I think that is a good way to be. Let me explain.

I buy into both theories. Leaper-Creeper and Successful don't acknowledge failure FOR THEM. Although, these simple models are abit too basic.

My take on it, with the help of theorists and practioners such as Robert Kiyosaki, Neapolean Hill, Bob Proctor, and Jim Rohn.

These authors may say, Leapers trust there instincts and past experiences and Creeper need to analyse or re-analyse the facts.
Therefore, if the Leaper has significant experience to draw upon, Leaping is not "Risky". And furthermore, the leaper's brain is trying to figure out why it should work, not why it won't work.
The Creeper, minimizes risk by sizing up the situation. This is good to, in many new situations. Although, it can be detrimental to achievement for those that are look for the problems. Some people call this the devil's advocate. I have never really got along with the Devil's advocate. TO ACHIEVE HIGH LEVELS OF SUCCESS, ONE MUST LOOK FOR WAYS TO MAKE IT WORK. (the V-8 engine would have never been build if Henry Ford listened to the Devil's Advocate).
************************************************** ****
Simplistic example of Low skilled LEAPER, and low skilled CREEPER:
I know many Gung-ho spouses that fly down the hill, with low skill levels. This form of a leaper is "Risky", and they are operating on low levels of competence, but high levels of enthusiasm. The other spouse, take lessons acknowledging low levels of competence and moderate to high levels of enthusiasm. But they gain experience, and develop instincts, thus increasing their compentency. Soon, the CREEPER SPOUSE is surpassing the other spouse's "skill" level. The CREEPER may or may not go as fast as the LEAPER (for awhile). But that is good so that the CREEPER may pick up the pieces when skiing by.
************************************************** *********

Regarding Successful people:

1. They have trouble imagining failure.

2. They don't care what other people think about them.
"SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES" - Anthony Robbins

Here are a few Philosophies that lead to these attitudes.
philosophies for item #1. Use them as you will.

A. I will persist until I succeed. - Og Mandino
B.When you desire wisdom with the same intensity that you desire to breathe, then nothing will stop you from getting it. - Socrates
C. Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. - Robert Collier
D. Don't say, "If I could, I would." Say, "If I can, I will"- Jim Rohn
E. Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon...must inevitably come to pass! - Paul J. Meyer
F. The key to success is dedication to life-long learning - Stephen Covey
G. He who stops being better Stops being good. - Oliver Cromwell
H. Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do. - John Wooden
H. Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail. -Charles Kettering

Item #2
A. Stop worrying about the person who says "NO. Focus instead on those who simply "Don't know." - Michael Clouse
B. If you share a good idea long enough, it will eventually fall good people. - Jim Rohn
C. Work only with those you would choose as friends. - Michael Clouse
D. Always ask yourself what steps a leader would take, and then take them. -- Brian Koslow

I will stop here. But you get the idea. Here is something for all BEARS to remember. --This is not an opinion--

and RESULTS determine your LIFESTYLE. --Jim Rohn

Work on philosophies long-term Results and lifestyle changes, and Action for short-term results.
"Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile." - Mary Beard

looking forward to responses

post #25 of 106
Nolo, my answer to your question?
I was trying to restate that entrepreneurs don't care what other people think about them--i.e., they do their own thinking. I take this to mean that they don't let what other people say or do get in the way of their progress. Do good skiers also exhibit this trait? I think so.

I would say, Sure...at some point. And they definately don't let anything, especially words, get in the way of their progress.

But I see those in the "Texas Tuck" not giving a hoot what you or I or anyone here thinks. If they did, they would get out of those frozen jeans and stop looking through their legs at the person behind them.

However, I see many "good" skiers (I am not yet as good as I want to be), looking for approval. To get to be a "Good" skier one must pick who they listen too. I believe what the Forbes article refers to is that the Successful Entreprenuer does not listen to the Naysayers, or the Negative attitudes or actions of people. Rather they listen to a select group for advice and improvement. Napolean Hill refers to the group as the "MasterMind" group. I refer to them as my mentors (it includes several of the Bears, as a matter of fact).

Lastly,when you get the level of Weems, you just revel in how cool snowsports really are. Without care, that everyone on the chair lift is watching you ski "Good" with a grin stretching through the beard and mustache.

post #26 of 106
Per some of the earlier comments in this thread, it is unlikely that differences in the levels of endorphins or adrenaline (epinephrine) facilitate "leaper/creeper" behavior. The root of such behaviors does indeed reside with our brains, but mapping the exact regions and the conecting neuronal circuitry responsible is still a work in progress.

LM, excess aerobics (or other physical excercise) will leave you with elevated levels of corticosteroids (cortisol etc.). Not good.
post #27 of 106
'mindless' or 'mindful'


Are you mindless .. or ... are you mindful ?

I think we should include this question as part of the ski class grading process ....

post #28 of 106
Thread Starter 
1. Do you mind?
post #29 of 106
Thread Starter 

Thanks for clarifying--I was repeating something I had read in an article, which cited a psychology book that was from the 1980's on this. Still, I guess we're not on a total goose chase, since you also said:

The root of such behaviors does indeed reside with our brains...

Wow! Great post. I'm guessing your mentors on EpicSki all have the same initial in their first and last names (though different than each other). [What is this poetic vibe that has given us such alliterative names to drop as Ric Reiter, Weems Westfeldt, and Bob Barnes? Dunno, but I do notice these things.]

I like what you guys are saying about leapers who are meticulous risk managers. Prior preparation prevents piss poor performance. No one's saying leapers have to be mindless about it.
post #30 of 106
nolo, I love the fact that you read endlessly and from varied sources. but I had to question this point about "successful entrepreneurs":

1. They have trouble imagining failure. 2. They don't care what other people think about them.

Funny, my estimation of successful entrepreneurs I've known is:

1. They think themselves flawed and are struggling mightily to overcome that and impress the world with their doings.

2. They have an unhealthy need for approval that indicates they DEEPLY care what others think about them.

What I think this disparity reflects is Forbes magazine's hero-worship of successful businessmen. Success in business must come from success elsewhere in life, right? I mean, can you have an emotional or psychological limp and still sprint in the business world?

My 3 years in law school and 13 years as a lawyer taught me that the great successes are, by and large, overachievers. They are struggling to overcome some personal feeling of invalidity and thus they "over" achieve.

I'd rather hang out with a bunch of over-equipped slackers any day. Conversations are more interesting. Experiences are more varied. And, there's no need to impress others with your "success."

Yes, my comments also include observations from 26 years of being an employee in various positions.

I think the endorphin count is a part of the equation, but not the whole thing. BadRat makes some good scientific observations, but leaves out The Missing Link: to what extent do thought and behavior patterns arise independently of our respective biochemical compositions?

Any psychiatrist who treats patients with both talk therapy (psychotherapy) and drugs (pharmacotherapy) can tell you that the drugs can remove the emotional hindrances, but they cannot change the thought patterns that are ingrained.

I would like to suggest this: Endorphin levels can incite one to take bigger risks, but is the desire for an endorphin buzz the only reason anyone seeks success in athletic endeavors? in business endeavors? As I said above, my experience is contrary.

I have a good group of mtb riding friends with whom I do a fair amount of freeriding -- and while we aren't quite at the elite level of these athletes, my two injuries this summer are a testament to the fact that we do indeed ride terrain that is fearsome & dangerous. Some of my riding friends won't do any such riding without a good chemical enhancement. What does that say about their endorphin levels? Personally, I can ride with or without external chemical assistance, and my abilities generally are higher without it. I find it clouds my judgment and my timing.

To think of it another way, look at the way anti-depressants are over-prescribed, and how many folks don't seem to be anything but artificially happy under their influence. Why is that? Is it because biochemistry isn't the only issue?

IMHO, the issue is so complex we can't resolve it here, not even in the limited context of how one approaches skiing. I am a leaper when I'm in that mood, and a creeper when I feel likewise. Is that indicative of my endorphin level variations? Of my thought processes independent of biochemistry? Of a combination?

Not many people are willing to bare their emotional souls and fully, honestly evaluate their psyches. That's why this will be a question for the ages.

[ October 28, 2002, 06:29 PM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
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