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Father Teaches His Sons to Ski by Encouraging Falling

When I was growing up, my dad taught my brother and me to ski. I learned to love it. I remember the first time Alan and I skied for most of the day by ourselves. At the end of the day we clicked off our skis, and dad asked us a peculiar question: "Did you fall today?"

"What?"

The question sounded pessimistic. That's not the normal first question you ask someone coming off a day on the slopes. Dad said it again: "Did you fall today?"

"No, I don't think I did," I responded somewhat proudly.

"Then you didn't try something new today, did you?"

His response startled me. What do you mean? I stayed up the entire day without falling! Dad went on to explain that if we didn't fall then we probably weren't in a position to try something new, something daring, something that scared you a little bit—something that involved risk on the mountain. And thus, we probably didn't have an opportunity to become a better skier.

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