Grains of Rice and Jelly Beans

white-riceOften when I’m speaking to groups about goal achieving I talk about preparation. I like to think that the process of preparation is like filling a cup with grains of rice. For time you spend focusing on work/training/school/relationships you get to put a grain of rice in the cup. The cup represents your goal, and the grains of rice are all the steps that you need to take to achieve it. Every time you are open to new ideas, change, challenge and co-operation you get to put another grain of rice in the cup.

There is a reason that starting is the hardest part of almost any task/goal. In the beginning  we have an obviously empty cup and the first grains of rice that we intend to put in look hopeless small. Goals don’t have to be huge; they can be small cups – or large buckets, even the size of your rice grains will differ – some seem minute and others massive. But there is tremendous value to each grain; added together- all your work adds up to something of value. As the grains of rice fill the cup you feel more and more ready; this is, I believe, the best way to deal with stress.

Attendance alone doesn’t earn a grain of rice – you have to be present; giving 100% of what you’ve got to give and genuinely listening – not waiting to talk – which is something I’ll admit that I can struggle with. When you are stubborn, resistant to new ideas or in attendance-only-mode grains of rice are removed from the cup. Everyone will have a few of those, but it’s certainly a pile we need to keep to a minimum!

Today I saw this video that uses 28,835 jelly beans to demonstrate how all of our ‘single days’ add up. When the video isolates one single bean to illustrate “your first day”  my mind jumped to the cup-filling-with-rice/preparation concept. Beside all the other beans that one yellow jelly bean looked so… small – as if it could never matter; the idea of it ever becoming the pile – with all its impact – seems unfathomable. But like the grains of rice… they add up too. As you work to achieve your goals, your efforts big and small have value.

Every step you take matters, first ones just as much as last ones.

Cool – you did that too?

Pert Plus Since I’m on a reminiscing kick… ( see the previous blog post about my mom’s gift)

In 1992, I came home from Barcelona with two Olympic Gold medals. I was 24, a world and olympic champion and when I went back to university – even with all that success – it seemed that no one knew (or cared?) what I’d achieved. I remember walking around the Western campus realizing that no one cared about the Olympics or had any idea of what an awesome summer I’d just had. I was disappointed… But not totally surprised, after all – I was just a canadian rower.

On my first Thursday night at the Ceeps that changed a little bit. The Ceeps is an off-campus bar (I actually worked there, bussing tables when I could work it in with my training schedule) – and it seemed that after a few pints of beer canadians had a much better memory! I was shown that they were passionate about the Games and Canada’s success. Maybe it was just liquid courage to share, but suddenly I heard about all the time they had spent jumping up and down on their couches – screaming “GO CANADA!!! ” and singing with/at their TVs. It was awesome! I was so proud of what we’d done and it was so great to hear how Canadians were too. That said, the wee bit of fame didn’t last long. Pretty soon, everyone – including myself – got back to our normal lives and the summer Games seemed far away. The Olympics and the mistaken idea that I’d be ‘famous’ for winning at the Olympics…faded.

Until my Pert Plus commercial. Continue reading

My Rowing Career in a Book: My mom’s incredible labour of love

“Once there was a dream… The result is history”

My mom gave me an amazing gift for Christmas this year. It’s the most incredible book/binder that includes all the press clippings that she had kept from my entire rowing career.

Apparently it’s been her project for months. She was working on it all summer: sorting, cutting, compiling…. From the scribble page in my high school note book that was and ode to the sport I was just learning in 1986* (!!!! How did she find THAT!), through Jr. Worlds, rowing/awards at Western University, Sr Worlds, PanAms, Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games, Arctic adventures, snowboarding, triathlons, fundraising, sponsorships, profiles, Kilimanjaro climbs, awards, inductions, Olympic bids, PanAm bids, civic/ambassador events, job announcements, car articles, home reno articles, more fundraising, mentoring and … finally my book launch in 2012. Coopers and Lybrand, Timex, Pert Plus, Milk, AT&T, Avon, Pepsi, Zurich Financial put me in some incredible campaigns. Each clipping she included shows the date, and which newspaper – usually via a clipping from that days newspaper.

It’s all there. Continue reading

London Olympic Rowing – Best seat in the house

front row, tv monitor, informed friends to discuss what we’re watching….

I went to London with CTV to be a Primetime studio analyst for the Olympic rowing regatta. This meant that while a team of people would call the races stroke by stroke as they happened, I would observe the regatta and explain what was going on in the big picture to the Primetime audience in Canada in the middle of the night in the UK.

To do this – I had one hell of a daily schedule. I was at the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre from 8am-3pm to get a feel of what was happening at the regatta, talk to my international peers and watch all the incredible races. My actual work with CTV was in the evening. I would go into the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) at about 7pm to prepare for the live Primetime show with Brian Williams. Depending on what time I was on – I was there until 2-3am.

I was very lucky to have a driver for most of my commuting. I had a hotel about 45min from the IBC – where I would sleep for 1-2 hrs by day- and another hotel about 30min from the Rowing course- where I would sleep 2-4 hrs by night. The drive between the two was never less than an hour, sometimes closer to 2hours, and once – when I had to take a bus and a train – it took me 3hours 20 minutes. The route between the two was actually incredibly scenic and I was driven by the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. One day- we went passed Big Ben as it chimed 3am… and then again later as it chimed 3pm –for nine days I was commuting a lot and sleeping only a little.

The regatta was amazing and my role was incredible. Continue reading