6-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller on learning to accept and understand fear in your career and life

Courtesy Bode Miller

I am not a skier. I started too late, took a bad fall and then tried again a few times as an adult and was deathly afraid the whole time. But even though I could not ski well myself and do not get much non-anxiety-ridden happiness out of it, I did get so much pure joy from watching the great Bode Miller ski. To me, Miller is synonymous with skiing.

The five-time Olympian between the years of 1998 and 2014 and six-time Olympic medalist (one gold, three silvers, two bronzes) was just who you watched at the Olympics (plus as a young teenager, the name Bode is pretty unforgettable.) He was the bad boy of skiing, once stating that his ultimate goal was not to win all the medals but to go“as fast as the natural universe will allow” no matter what happened to his body (and so many ski poles.)

In his post-Olympic career, he has had much success as a businessman collaborating with apparel and ski companies including  K2, Atomic, Kjus, Nike, Head Alpine Equipment, Fischer and Rossignol. In 2015, he joined Bomber Ski.

“The plan was to build great skis, but not just for elite athletes – for beginners, kids, and everyone,” he said about the company in 2015. In 2017 he officially retired from skiing, after an epic crash in 2015 that tore his hamstring, to work on his business endeavors and focus on his growing family with wife Morgan Beck, a professional beach volleyball player.

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Miller has an 11-year-old daughter, Neesyn Dacey, and 6-year-old son, Samuel, from two previous relationships and then Miller and Beck had daughter Emeline and son Nash. But in June of 2018 19-month-old Emie drowned in a neighbor’s pool at their home in Los Angeles. Miller and Beck (who was pregnant with their son Easton Vaughn Rek at the time) were, as you can imagine, completely devastated by this loss. Though the family is regrouping — Beck is pregnant with twin boys due in November — a piece of them will always be missing.

“It was a horrible experience, losing a child,” Bode Miller said in an interview recently. “The loss was brutal, but we have an amazing family, and we have a unique ability to really live a spectacular life and move forward, and also to show each other and show the rest of the world what that healing process can look like.”

Part of that regrouping has been relocating his large brood to the Spanish Peaks Mountain Club in Big Sky, Montana from southern California. A fresh start, yes, but also a return to a more similar nature-heavy and simple upbringing that Miller experienced growing up in rural Franconia, New Hampshire (without electricity for much of his childhood.) Miller is now the face of the Lone Mountain Land Company located about 25 miles north of Yellowstone and will work with the Spanish Peaks Mountain Club and Moonlight Basin.

As Lone Mountain’s ambassador, he will establish a ski program for students of all levels, and help to bring more families and tourists to the exciting area. Ladders was lucky enough to speak with the most decorated male skier in Olympic history about his move and family, his career and being fearless.

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Courtesy Bode Miller

Why did you decide to partner with Lone Mountain Land Company?

The company is developing a ski town community the way it should be done, with an approach that represents what I believe in conservation, community support, and initiatives, family-focused, along with a true connection to nature and the outdoors.

This move to Montana was a choice you and your family made to have a life similar to your very outdoorsy, nature-filled childhood? Can you describe what life is like for you and your family in your new home? What are some of your favorite parts?

It’s still very new for us being in Big Sky and living at Spanish Peaks Mountain Club, but it’s been incredible so far. Especially for our kids. Our house is right on the golf course at Spanish Peaks. My kids can walk to the Clubhouse, Fort Peaks, which is their kids center and outdoor programming, and directly to the ski lift. With the Montage Big Sky also being built at Spanish Peaks, which is slated to open in 2021, it will enhance Spanish Peaks and Moonlight Basin even more, as well as the entire Big Sky community.

You are known for being fearless as a skier. Can you give any advice on how people can get more comfortable with taking risks, especially in their careers?

For me it was important to understand the difference between fear and danger, danger represents risk and fear is an emotional response to something, the two don’t have to be connected.  Once I got good at dealing with true danger, fear was much less a part of my life.

What is your favorite part about your second, and very successful career, as a businessman?

I was lucky to have a long career traveling all over the world.  During that time I met a lot of amazing people and was exposed to a lot of different experts across many industries.  I enjoy using my broad knowledge base to help be creative in my business ventures.

How do you channel creativity in your work? How do you get into that creative headspace?

I feel like my brain is always working, even when I’m relaxing or just hanging out, almost like its separate from me in some ways, which makes it easy to engage it or not whenever I have time, which is good because I can’t work traditional hours with my kids as my top priority.

Do you have any great productivity hacks?

I make notes that help me, as long as I can remember all the things I have to do I usually don’t have any productivity issues, but sometimes I get stuck knowing that there is more but I just can’t remember what.