S2.E19: Understanding & Managing Risk Tolerance with Robin Barnes

Understanding & Managing Risk Tolerance with Robin Barnes

One of the essential elements to managing risk when we are delivering adventure to others, is understanding and managing people’s risk tolerance. Our risk tolerance is the level of comfort that we have with loss or injury. Being able to determine a person’s risk tolerance in a given moment is a key component to building trust, improving their performance, coaching them through danger and helping them to control their fear.

One person who has made a successful career of managing her own risk tolerance, and the risk tolerance of others is Robin Barnes. Robin is the Director of Skier Services at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Her current role is to oversee the operations of the Heavenly Snow School. In addition to working at Heavenly, Robin has previously spent 31 seasons working at Portillo Chile as an instructor and the ski and snowboard school director. She has also been a four-time Alpine Team Member with the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA).

In this episode of Delivering Adventure, we discuss what goes into evaluating and managing the risk tolerance of ourselves and the people we may be leading.

Key Takeaways

Risk Tolerance: What you are comfortable losing or giving up. Essentially, it is out appetite for taking risk.

Subjective and Perception Based: Each of us views risk differently and this perception can change throughout an activity or during the day. For this reason, it’s important to be able to identify what a person’s risk tolerance is up front and to keep evaluating it as we go along.

Determining Risk Tolerance: We can use a number scale to gauge people’s level of tolerance. For example, 10 could mean a person is terrified while 1 means they are bored. Part of doing this successfully is to learn what a person’s rating means to them.

More confidence than knowledge: When this happens, people may only see the win, not the chance of loss. One situation where this can occur is with kids who may not have the ability to judge the consequences of following a specific path or the ability to calculate the potential for suffering those consequences. This is the classic example where the people we may be leading don’t know what they don’t know.

Spotting People When They are Outside Their Risk Tolerance: We can see this when performance deteriorates, body position becomes defensive, and people may become quieter or more talkative than normal. We have to keep checking in with people, asking him how they are doing, communicating the risks, giving people options and watching their reactions carefully.

Importance: Exposing people to too much risk can overwhelm them by causing stress and anxiety. What is worse is that it can lead to injury. On the other hand, exposing people to too little risk or challenge can leave them bored. Both of these things can damage relationships and ruin the experience.

Guest Bio

Robin Barnes is the Director of Skier Services at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Her current role is to oversee the operations of the Heavenly Snow School. In addition to working at Heavenly, Robin has previously spent 31 seasons working at Portillo Chile as an instructor and the ski and snowboard school director. She has also been a four-time Alpine Team Member with the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA).

In addition to skiing, she is a fitness trainer, mountain biker, has worked as a Ski tester for a ski Magazine and is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Robin basically does it all!

People aren’t always truthful or forthcoming: People may misrepresent their goals and expectations, they may not know what they want, they may also be too embarrassed to tell you what they really want.

Guest Links

Heavenly Ski Resort: https://www.skiheavenly.com/

Article about Robin: https://thesnowpros.org/2021/05/06/2021-24-national-team-meet-robin-barnes/

Podcast with Robin: https://soundcloud.com/realskierswithjackson/robin-barnes-an-instructor-for-life

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