Mark Conlon is an Alpine ski instructor in Colorado. He’s been teaching for over thirty years. And, as he explains, “I’ve seen and heard more than my share of ski-related sayings — some have been good, some entertaining and some just bad.”
Among the best, however, is the saying he shared with me last spring — “Ski to the Level of Your Smile” — on a Braveskimom Facebook post.
The friend of a friend, Mark happily explained the origin of this phrase and how it became his personal philosophy. The story is a good one, and the philosophy is important. It can be applied to any aspect of life and make it better.
Ski to the Level of Your Smile
As Conlon tells it, the phrase had its genesis with another ski instructor, Art Myers. This was back in the 1990s when shaped skis were coming on line. One morning, as Conlon was organizing guests for an all day lesson program, he heard Myers fielding questions about skiing on this new type of skis.
“How do I go from arc to arc?” a guest questioned. In response, Myers pointed his right hand to his left cheek, and in a graceful motion made an arc across to his right cheek saying “The most important arc is the one that goes from cheek to cheek, your smile.”
According to Conlon, Myers answer stuck with him all day and over time informed his thinking about “levels.”
As skiers know, when you sign up for ski lessons, you are asked about your level. In the US, ski schools have nine levels: levels 1-3 are for beginners; levels 4-6 are intermediate and levels 7-9 are advanced/expert.
What Conlon realized is that the level of one’s skiing ability is less important than the level to which one is having fun and enjoying skiing. If the arc that makes a smile is a critical component of skiing, then skiing to the level of one’s smile means enjoying every moment of skiing.
Live to the Level of Your Smile
Over time, Conlon’s use of the phrase evolved. From a philosophy of skiing and ski instruction, “ski to the level of your smile,” became a philosophy of life.
I’ve taken Conlon’s advice. I try to run to the level of my smile. I try to bike to the level of my smile. I try to hike, cook, laugh, play with my dog and visit friends and family — all to the level of my smile. Just thinking about doing something to level of my smile, makes me smile.
Which makes whatever I’m doing better. And while I sometimes forget, I am trying to live to the level of my smile.
I hope you’ll try this yourself, maybe right now as you read this. And then, this winter, try skiing to the level of your smile. With this sage advice, you and your family may just have your best ski season ever!
Many thanks to Mark Conlon for sharing this story and his life-changing philosophy. Mark has provided a few “to the level of your smile” stickers and I’m happy to share them with you. If you’d like one, please leave a comment. They are first-ask, first-receive.
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