Are you ready? Ready is relative.


On approach to their 3rd Olympics : Me with Scott Moir, Tessa Virtue and their coaches Patrice and Marie-France (who I mentored in 2006!) What a team!

I met Kaillie at the 2006 Olympics – a 1st Winter Games for both of us… Now she’s at her 4th, going for 3rd gold.


With the 2018 Olympics starting soon, I’ve found myself in a recurring conversation with athletes who are about to test years of their preparation against the World. Most of the athletes I’ve been talking with are going to their 3rd and 4th Olympics; they are successful and experienced veterans and yet they are troubled by the question “Are you Ready?”.



The question isn’t a conundrum for just Olympians… it’s one that – in the presence of ambition – will (should?!) always circle back on you…..

So how many times do you get asked – Are you ready?
– Is the answer you give the same one that’s in your head? Ready is relative.
Consider the Dunning Kruger Effect. It says….
If you ask an incompetent person “Are you ready?” or “Do you know enough?”- because they are incompetent and they believe that what they know is everything – they will tell you, AND believe, that they are as ready as they could possibly be.
On the other end of Dunning Kruger scale…
If you ask a competent person “Are you ready?” or “Do you know enough?”- because they are competent, and know how much there is to know – they can’t say and BELIEVE that they are as ready as they could possibly be. (Consider – I imagine that if you ask Stephen Hawking what he knows about the universe – he will tell you that he knows almost nothing. )

Continue reading

Rookie, Established or Veteran – Seeing Your Self as a Champion Takes Practice


Focusing on task, improving technique and increasing strength are what keeps us in the up-curve of our careers.

Take a moment to picture a champion in your field, a person who achieves success often. See this champion doing something you admire: now see this champion smiling, shaking hands….

What do you see? I’ve always seen confidence, talent (not sure how one sees this, but it’s a feeling I get), good strong posture, and a twinkle in the champion’s eye – as if this champion knows a secret.

Now… here’s an important question – Was it you that you saw? Do you see yourself as a champion?

Maybe you saw a generic person – no one in particular – that’s fine — but could it have been you? (This is possibly a very “Canadian” way to picture success considering how we tend to think of who our “heroes” and role models are. ie – we tend to use composites of people and traits). So. Do you posses the characteristics that you saw? Do you hope to? Are you working on them?

Here is a telling follow-up question, especially if you are a woman — if it wasn’t you – did you picture a woman?

It’s not easy to be that bold, but ego is not arrogance.

When I first started thinking about actually going to Olympics – when I pictured an Olympian, in my mind I saw a male swimmer. He was sort of a perfect specimen – tall, broad-shouldered-narrow-waisted, hairless (?ha!), and almost zero fat on his body. I am none of these things so how could I become an Olympian? Continue reading

Do you look for solutions to problems or problems to solutions?


 In many different ways I’ve written about being open to new ideas and change. In my book I shared a story about snowboarding through a gladed run. This particular story spoke of the importance of looking and moving to the spaces around the problems and not looking at the problems themselves. If you want to hit the trees, I concluded – look at the trees. If you want to ‘hit’ the fresh powder, well then …(For that full story click here, but I’ll also put a link at the end of this message.)

Previous to this post, I’ve also written about the value of being young and naïve vs. well seasoned and experienced. I have found that it’s not uncommon for experience to sometimes act as a burden when it comes to problem solving. When we think we know it all we start to become those who know less and less. At some point, because of our experiences, we inadvertently become closed off to challenge of new or changing ideas. That’s when we hear from others, or think to ourselves, “I’ve been doing it this way for X number of years – why would I / should I change?” Our well-honed routines provide us with the comfort that we know what we are doing but they put us at risk for becoming less curious about what we could be doing differently.

So, I come back to my opening remark; do you look for solutions to your problems, or do you find yourself finding problems in your solutions?

This isn’t the type of message where I offer an easy fix-all solution. There isn’t one. It is simply a question that I ask of myself, and I am suggesting that you ask it of yourself. I believe that simply this act of self-reflection will lead you to do a bit of both, which is, in my humble opinion the right way to go. In order to perform at any efficient level you must be looking for solutions to problems but you also must have a sense of what problems might arise.

Having an idea that a problem might present itself is much different than assuming that a problem will present itself. The former allows you to anticipate change and challenge; the later leaves you unwilling to change at all.


Before I sign-off – another self-reflective question; (and it’s one of my favourites!) In conversation do you listen, or do you wait to talk? !



Previous posts on being open to new ideas.

See the Spaces – an excerpt from The Power of More

What are you Listening to?

What Super Heroes Don’t Tell You


Speaking at TedXBelieving that we can achieve success and big, seemingly infinite, goals can seem impossible for us “normal*” people. For the likes of Super Hero Buzz Lightyear, who will readily leap “To INFINITY and Beyond!!!” it’s a breeze. How do they do that?!

This weekend I spoke at a TedX event at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. I titled my presentation “What Super Heroes Don’t Tell You” and had a lot of fun delivering my message.

I used a few big-event examples from my rowing career that tended to push my ego to believing that I was special. It’s easy to think that crossing an Olympic finish line in 1st place can make a person believe in their own Super Hero status! But almost invariably for me, something happened immediately after each of my big achievements that served to remind me to put my feet back on the ground. I was just a normal person who was doing some pretty special things; not a special person, and certainly not a super hero.

Eventually I figured it out. Continue reading