My name is Julia Ford and I am a GroundSwell student athlete. My goal here is to paint a clear depiction of what ski racing and attending GroundSwell Institute is like. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. Obviously, I had a general sense, but the concrete model wasn’t totally clear in my mind. As an 8-year US Ski Team veteran who wanted to keep racing, I knew that I also needed something that would progress my future professional endeavors and GroundSwell was the ideal opportunity.
I entered my first GroundSwell class skeptically, and as I typed in the GoToMeeting code my self-doubt weighed on me. Over my 26 years I have been known as many things ranging from Olympic athlete to ambassador, but it has been many years since I could be called a ‘student.’ Therefore, I was not so much concerned whether GroundSwell was right for me, I knew it was; it was more a matter of whether I could keep up, learn the material, and ski at the level I wanted. Let’s just say I don’t remember much of the calculus class I took back in 2008, so reentering the academic world was a bit daunting.
But, enter I did. As the video screens popped up on GroundSwell’s GoToMeeting class, it was nice to see the familiar face of Warner Nickerson. It was comforting to have Cody Marshall involved; Cody raced at the highest level and has already learned the GroundSwell content, and he was the person who originally pitched the GroundSwell model to me. When we ran into each other at US Nationals, I think I made him jump when, after he told me about GroundSwell Institute, I so quickly shot back, ‘I want to do that!’ Months later, after many meetings to better grasp what it would entail and how it would affect my number-one priority (skiing fast), I signed up.
By entering GroundSwell, I wanted a place to put my focus during the long downtime between ski races - and let's be honest, there can be a lot. So far, I have taken GroundSwell classes in New Hampshire, Sweden, Norway, Colorado, the London airport, and Austria. That’s the beautiful thing - you can do it anywhere with an internet connection.
That first day, I was in New Hampshire when we spoke of the importance of a strong business foundation, an area that is often overlooked. It is like building a ski turn without using your ankles. I was shocked by this neglect. We defined a business foundation and the bottom of our Pyramid of Organizational Development by asking three questions: who are you, how are you different, where are you going? Those are the fundamental questions upon which a business should be built, but Bob spun it further and asked those fundamental questions about us: who are you, where are you going, how are you different?
So, who am I? I am Julia Ford, a 2014 Olympian from New England. I laugh a lot, am uber-competitive, and enjoy the pursuit of betterment. How am I different? Now that I am off the US Ski Team, I am able to change the terms under which I ski: where I was previously trained as a Downhiller, I have transitioned back to my tech roots and am increasing my speed the way I want while also pursuing professional development, because, as much as I want, I cannot ski forever. Where am I going? Hopefully to the top, and I hope you will join me in my journey. Follow me here as I document my adventure as a GroundSwell student while trying to get back to the World Cup Stage.