December always brings with it an onslaught of “Looking Back”, “Year in Review” or “Best of 20??” lists.
It never fails to amaze me how much that we can ‘forget’ happened in a particular year. When there is so much that we still want to get done remembering all the day-in and day-out work that we have accomplished is difficult. We often get so fixated on the work that is in our ‘to-do’ pile that we forget (and disregard) the work that is in our ‘done’ pile.
I’m not suggesting that anyone stop actively pursuing his or her to-do pile. To come full stop, throw a “look-how-much-I’ve done” party and dwell exclusively on one’s own ‘done’ pile can lead dangerously toward entitlement. I believe entitlement is the antithesis of hard work and thus performance.
The challenge is to keep looking and moving forward and to stay connected with all that you’ve accomplished in the past. (hmmm. There’s that “Jammed Cat” again! See the video.)
Staying connected to the volume of work that we’ve already done and the tasks that we have accomplished helps us manage the stress that we put on ourselves as we push forward. Each of the tasks in our ‘done’ pile accumulates like a ‘grain of rice filling a cup’. They all contribute to our confidence as we continue to push forward and through our increasingly busy and challenging ‘to-do’ list; so why would we ever forget a single one?
Since January of this year, I’ve been writing a monthly mentor message that is directed at athletes and their support team who have been training for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Their preparations began well before this series started but my goal was to become another resource for them to know that they are part of a bigger team, that they are not alone in their highly ambitious efforts and (I can’t stress this one enough -) that it is normal people like them who accomplish incredible things. The goal is for them to be absolutely comfortable with all of their ambitions.
With that in mind – I’ve jumped to the front of the “Year in Review line. Possibly the first of the year, (I still like being first ) Have a great December,
Mentally strong people have healthy habits. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life. Check out these things that mentally strong people don’t do so that you too can become more mentally strong.
Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.
They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond. Read on…
The whole point of my mentor messages is to help normalize what everyone who has ever been to an Olympics knows – the Olympics are different. We say the difference is more than just Citius, Altius, Fortius because families, sponsors, media and nations treat the Games differently, but who’s kidding who? – an athlete’s desire to go/be Faster, Higher, Stronger than anyone else is a massive part of why this year feels harder, unique, special, etc. etc to them. This month I really wanted to be sure that no one at the Olympics takes them by surprise.
When I was training for my first Games, the veteran on our team, Lesley Thompson-Willie, repeatedly told / warned us; “You have to watch out, people step-up in an Olympic year.” In an Olympic year there would always be at least one ‘dark-horse’ threat. Someone who wasn’t much to worry about in the previous year, she told us, would go home with a medal. As World Champions, she wanted to be sure that we didn’t get caught simply training for another year and then get passed by a dark horse, by those who were hungry – if not desperate – to succeed at the Olympics.
Have you ever been 4th in a really important race/competition? I was twice. My heart ached and I was consumed with a fire to do better next time. I became so hungry to win and, almost more so, desperate to not be broken hearted again.
Yesterday, with Jim Cuddy, Ed Robertson and Simon Whitfield, I was part of an announcement that will hopefully effect the health of the Canadian high performance sport system. But I’m hoping that it will effect more than that – way more.
The Canadian Olympic Foundation, in partnership with Gold Medal Plates has announced the creation of the Future Olympians Fund. The target is to raise $4million in 4 years and for that money to help young emerging athletes bridge the gap that exists just below the financially supported National Team level. This gap has been getting bigger and bigger as municipalities and provinces give less and less funding to sport and activity programs. In the increased absence of funding at this level – there are fewer and fewer canadians being taught sport at much more than rudimentary and recreational levels without a significant investment by their families. To often that becomes exclusionary.
I’ve explained the existing problem – somewhat colloquially - like this… If Own the Podium is able to support teams/athletes who are Top 10 (in the World) to become Top 3 and to win… How are athletes expected to get to that Top 10 Level? The flow of developing high performance athletes filling the pipeline from playground to podium is critically low, and with a weak base the likelihood of sustained success at the top becomes less and less foreseeable . This Future Olympians Fund is intended to support the Canadian Sport Institutes and change that.
“Why Sport? Shouldn’t I be giving to healthcare, education or community programs?”
But there is a bigger picture… I often get asked -”Why sport?” as in “Why should I financially support a bunch of athletes who are traveling the world and chasing their dreams? Shouldn’t I be giving to healthcare, education or community programs?” At first I didn’t know how to respond, those are really important and essential things. As I matured and listened to people telling me what my influence, and the influence of my peers, has had on them – I came to a response that I am proud of.
People have told me (or my team mates) ;
That is the influence that Canadian athletes have on Canadians. – That’s the REAL value of high performance sport.
So… my answer to “Why Sport?”
Supporting sport is supporting healthcare, education and community programs.
Speaking for my Olympic peers and all the athletes that I work with – who are preparing for ALL of the upcoming Olympic Games – thank you for your time, your efforts and … your money. Together we are building a better, healthier, prouder Canada.