Because You Can – Doesn’t Always Mean That You Should

Time to Move On

The Best Time To Be Last - As the Mentor - I often corralled the team... mostly  into the Opening & Closing ceremony

The Best Time To Be Last – As the Mentor – I often corralled the team… mostly into the Opening & Closing ceremony

For the past 9 years I have been, under one title or another, a specialist in Olympic Athlete Preparation for the Canadian Olympic Committee. It’s been a great working relationship but I have a sense that it’s time to move on. It’s been fun – but I’m choosing to be done.

I’ve really enjoyed being a mentor – I have had the privilege of connecting with and helping to prepare Canadian Olympic athletes for the Turin2006, Beijing2008, Vancouver2010, London2012 and the Sochi2014 Olympic Games. The scale of the task has been incredible. Connecting with so many different athletes, learning about all their different sports, and their sport cultures has been so interesting. As is the case with all the best things that we devote our time to – I feel as if I have taken in so much more than I was able to give and I am so grateful.

Each conversation, every visit to a team meeting, training camp or competition convinced me of the common experience that driven people share in their constant pursuit of excellence. We all choose to ride a rollercoaster of emotions as we follow our ambitions, revel in the joy of being part of a group/team with a common, extraordinary goal and seek the (c)rush that envelopes us each time we push into an environment that we know will offer us a fresh heap of all-encompassing performance stress – ah! that stress truly is the spice of life!

It’s important to recognize when the ambition that you’re willing to give no longer matches the task. To succeed at the Olympics, one has to have a hunger for their task. With respect to retirement and moving on I’ve said for many years– “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” – it’s way too hard to fake the required dedication and passion to succeed. Fourteen years ago, I knew it was time to retire from rowing when I could no longer keep myself so singularly focused. As I experienced ‘life’ away from the boathouse the spectrum of my career broadened as I got involved in different projects and adventures; my blinders were off, and I didn’t want to put them on again. It was the right choice to retire even if the talent was still there because the hunger was not.

I feel as if my perspective is opening up again. I’ve no doubts that I could continue to have meaningful conversations and exchanges with our current and future Olympians but to bring continued value to my role, I would need to have more than conversations…to bring value I would have to be driven to have great conversations. That drive/hunger/focus is the difference between trying to be good at something and trying to be great at it. I know that I would need to choose to be in an immersed position where I am routinely connected and able to speak genuinely with those I’m working with. I will always enjoy exchanging thoughts and ideas with any athlete (any person) who seeks me out – but for the scale of supporting a whole Olympic team – I’m no longer in that immersed position and I’m not driven to choose it.

I find myself currently figuring out my third retirement (as an athlete, I retired twice – the first time didn’t stick!). I have a plan for what I’m doing now and where I’m going to go. I continue to get wonderful corporate clients who allow me to speak to my ideas of performance, ambition and our goal-achieving paths. My book, The Power of More: How Small Steps Help us to Achieve Big Goals is something I am very proud of and sells well, and… there will always be more! I have a big pot of ambition and I continue to look for projects and adventures on which I can spread it.

To so many incredible athletes – I so enjoy every one of our exchanges. Thank you for reaching out with your thoughts and questions, for listening and for your wonderfully driven energy and perspective. As I  said in an email just yesterday – Please keep asking questions and I’ll keep trying to give you answers. I enjoy this.

One thought on “Because You Can – Doesn’t Always Mean That You Should

  1. Well, I always thought my guidance counsellor said to choose a “vacation” not a “vocation”–but when you can marry the two, better yet.
    Kim and I are always scheming in regards to retirement. It’s simply the evolution and acceptance of a passion not attached to income, right? We’re thinking of a few seasons as lighthousekeepers, and agritourism gigs picking grapes on some far flung vineyard. We’ve also toyed with nursing rescued sloths back to health in Costa Rica or doing practically anything with donkeys, organgutans, chimps or fruit bats for that matter. Tracking the wild dogs of Zambia? So many opportunities and and it seems evident that we have a big hunger for “retirement.” It’s good to recognize the shift into the power of more, right?

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