Happy New Year, Will it be a Resolution or a Promise to Yourself?

Happy New Year! 

This is a note that I wrote for Team Canada; athletes, coaches, support staff and mission team. There will be many between now and the Tokyo Olympic Games. The final Olympic Team won’t be named until early in the summer, so until then – this message is going to those who are sure things, likely/maybes and long shots; it’s going to everyone who is dreaming of more for and from themself in 2020.

Quick question: How long has 2020 been the target of your radar?  

For me, there’s something incredibly special about Jan 1.  of an Olympic year. It’s different isn’t it? Kind of a “Game on!!!” 

When I was competing, my Olympic New Year resolutions had to do with me being ready to kick ass at the upcoming Games! I can vividly remember the impact of knowing that it’s finally My Olympic year. — Yeah!!! The dream is so close! Woah. The dream is so close. it’s amazing and scary all at the same time. What a rush!

My first Olympic New Year was 1992 (don’t judge!). I was so pumped about the potential of the year ahead; everything was going as planned. And then, about 12 days later, while I was being an idiot with a house mate, I felt the MCL in my knee blow, then I felt my heart break: What had I done? I was the reigning World Champion in 2 events: This was supposed to be my year. I learned right then that I have faith in something and I prayed. I prayed desperately that I wasn’t at the end.

Luckily – it turns out that rowers don’t really need an MCL for rowing. With a great knee brace and some adaptations for my weightlifting I was back training and on the water by the end of January. But I’d seen it. In my mind, I’d seen the complete destruction of my goal. I didn’t want that to ever happen again. 

I decided two things: 

  1. I needed to take my preparation on and off the water more professionally. Particularly off the water. By not thinking about the consequences of child-like rough-housing I had risked everything that I, and my teammates, had been working so incredibly hard for; and 
  2. I didn’t want to ever have to resort to praying for a miracle again. Not in training, not in competition and certainly not at the Olympics. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t do that again. It was desperate – and we can’t win if we have to rely on desperate measures. 

Similar to other New Years’ resolution I made a promise to myself. But I needed this one to be more real than any I’d ever made in the past. I put it “in stone” by writing it down. I wrote it (in calligraphy, which was a hilarious (failed) attempt to improve my handwriting), put it in an envelope, sealed it, and put it in my journal that I took everywhere. 

In late July we arrived in Barcelona for the 1992 Olympics. I pulled out my well-travelled journal, the still sealed envelope and opened it up. I knew what it said – but I wanted to read it. 

I had promised myself to dig as deep when training as I wanted to when racing. I wanted to make my top potential the norm, not something I had to hope for on race day; no need to pray for anything extra. I also promised to be grateful. 

I knew I had kept my promise and through the Olympic Rowing Regatta, that norm was our golden ticket – twice.

A New Year’s tradition for many is selecting a resolution; a new goal to accomplish, a new habit to embrace or an old one to kick. You don’t need a new resolution – you’ve got an Olympic plan. You’ve already taken your dream, and by identifying a plan to achieve it, you converted it into a goal. But here is my second question – what have you promised yourself? (Also – if you are on a Team? What have you promised each other?)

That was a long way of wishing you the best and happiest New Year. 2020 is going to be an awesome one! Cheers! 

            Marnie 

I welcome replies and questions. Agree with me or disagree with me I’m happy to hear it – but most importantly – if this starts a conversation with your teammates, your coach – or yourself – about what you are doing or need to be doing – then we’re on our way towards MORE. 

Comfort vs Magic

This message is really simple – and at the same time it is what makes everything so hard. No matter what your role is within your sport – your rank in Canada, or in the World, my guess is that in this next year you want to do more than you’ve ever done before. To do that you’ll have to be outside of your comfort zone way more than you’re in it. That is where magic often happens.

The above image has been around for a while, I first saw it when an adventurer, Bruce Kirkby, encouraged an audience to alter their routine, get out of their comfort zone and find their own adventure. It’s not just about what we physically do, it is also about exploring the boundaries that we set when we dream; set directions, intentions and goals. We can’t expect to be comfortable while trying to do something hard, aka new, special, or magical (Yes, this is the whole ‘be comfortable being uncomfortable’ speech). We have to let that comfort go. 

Trust in your preparation plan—all of it – for qualification, selection and competitions. Let your experiences (and those of your team mates, your coaches) give you confidence – your (collective) “done list” is massive! Trust that you are experienced; trust that you are really good and that you’re doing everything in your power to be better. And then, with all that trust in your back pocket…. let yourself stretch; reach physically, mentally and emotionally.

Your job every day is to shift and grow your comfort zone by getting out of it.

Chat soon, 

            Marnie 

Marnie McBean OC OLY

Chef de Mission Team Canada Tokyo 2020

p.s.   Think of this as a talking point; you may agree with me, maybe disagree… I welcome replies and questions. Let it serve as a conversation starter, a heads up or reminder to the ups and downs that are a natural point of believing that you can do more than just go, more than just compete, but compete at your very BEST at your Olympics. My goal will never be to add to your stress, but to help you wear it well.

Hi from Marnie! – Let’s go to Tokyo believing in more!

Hi – Konnichiwa !  –  I’m your Chef de Mission for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (What’s a Chef de Mission you ask? Good Question. I’m not sure as an athlete I totally knew either.) 

Technically, the Chef de Mission is the Head of Delegation of an Olympic Team. The COC has professionals who have already been making operational and logistical decisions for you – so that’s off my plate.  I suppose this leaves me with roles like: ambassador, advocate, mentor; and cheerleader in chief.  Ultimately – I hope to be a resource to you, for whatever you need leading up to and throughout the Games

My goal is when you arrive at the Olympic Games that you compete with all the swagger and confidence that you have in your favourite environments; regular Tour competitions/tournaments, World Cups, World Championships, etc.  I want you to feel so good at the Olympics that you can live up to the potential that you have given yourself.

When you get to Tokyo – My goal is that Team Canada is a Team that believes in MORE; that we can TRY MORE, LEARN MORE, DO MORE, or BE MORE all the time.  I hope that you realize that this Philosophy of MORE applies to more than just sport; that it’s who you are and how you can lead (and win) by example. 

But wait – who am I?  My name is Marnie McBean and the Tokyo2020 Olympics will be my 10th Games. I went to 3 Olympics; Barceona92, Atlanta96 and Sydney2000, as a rower. I won 2 golds at my first Games (Women’s Pair and Women’s Eight), a 3rd gold (Women’s Double) and a bronze (Women’s Quad) at my second, and earned 2 ruptured discs, a DNS (Women’s Single) and a lower back surgery at my 3rd Games. I did media in Athens, and since then I’ve been on 5 Mission Teams as a Specialist in Olympic Athlete Preparation and Mentoring. Three Winter Games (Turin, Vancouver, Sochi) and two Summer Games (Beijing, London) taught me a lot about the different sports and sport cultures. I have had countless conversations with veterans and rookies about believing in self, doubting self, being on track, and being off-track. 

In the next 10 months I hope to be part of conversations that normalize all the chaos – the ups, downs and WTF’s – that are going to come along with your audacious ambitions of being great – as an individual, or as part of a team at the Olympics. 

How am I going to do that? I’m not totally sure. I’ll start with notes like this one, then maybe conversations on-line or face-to-face; we’ll figure it out. I know it will be different for everyone. My goal for these conversations is not to add to the stress of your Olympic Journey but to help you feel comfortable carrying the stress that you have already chosen.   

Chat soon, 

            Marnie 

Marnie McBean OC OLY

Chef de Mission Team Canada Tokyo 2020

mmcbean@olympic.ca  

You got this email because you are on the long list, as an athlete, coach, support staff or mission staff, for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. I welcome replies and questions. Agree with me or disagree with me I’m happy to hear it – but most importantly – if this starts a conversation with your teammates, your coach – or yourself – about what you are doing or need to be doing – then we’re on our way towards MORE. 

Some quotes to leave you with today… 

On accepting stress – 

  •  “As soon as you assign meaning to something, there will be stress” Alex Bilodeau- 2x Olympic Gold – 1st Canadian to win Gold in Canada.  
  • “I had been scared about the Olympics, but then when it was over, I realized it was just a race”. Marc, Gagnon – 3x Olympic Gold, 1 Silver, Short Track Speed Skating.