Turn up the Volume!

I’m not sure about you, but I’m looking forward to moving past messages about patience and flexibility with respect to our goals. While these traits remain essential in the ongoing management and prevention of viral spread, and as a team you’ve done a phenomenal job at them…. I’d like to turn my Chef’s message back to performance and ambition management.

Let’s turn the “Can Do” volume up, and talk about winning again.

I won 6 World and Olympic titles and stood beside the top spot another 6 times.  If you asked me what was the most important ingredient in my mental soup for that stretch of time, I’d give you a list like this;

  1. Be confident in your preparation and training.
  2. Be respectful of the great potential of your competitors
  3. Fear and Doubt will be present at all of your Can I? Will I? moments (in competition and training)
  4. Believe that you are a somebody who can be better and/or outlast others.

 My soup, it seems, was kind of a mash up. Believe in me: Believe in them. Be doubtful: Be confident. How does that work? How can one person be simultaneously both?

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This is Your Story: Tokyo2020+1

An Open Letter to Canada’s Tokyo 2020 hopefuls: This Is Your Story

One year to go – again. Tokyo 2020 is now Tokyo 2020+1

It was a summer no one expected. The Tokyo 2020 Games were postponed, athletes had to put a pause on training and the future seemed scary and uncertain.

With exactly one year to go before the start of the Games, I penned this letter to Tokyo 2020 hopefuls:

“I can’t help but wonder: What is today? Is it a recognition of a missed year? Or a celebration of one year out? Either way, it’s part of your story.

Everything that has (or hasn’t) happened in the last six months and what will happen in the coming year, is part of your story.

What story? Every Olympian has a story, it usually has a lesson in it, and they tell it in different ways:

1. Their VERY SHORT story is of a moment during the Games.

2. Their SHORT story spans the Opening to Closing Ceremony and includes both Olympic competition and the Olympic city. (A bit of sport, a bit of culture, a bit of a party).

3. Their REAL story is longer, much, much longer. It’s a detailed, behind the scenes tale of persistence, determination, effort and resilience. It happens in isolation as well as before crowds and includes tears, pain, joy and celebration.

Most (all?!) Olympic stories include tales about how solid plans got disrupted and then how they were assessed, recalculated and continued. Think of an athlete you know or even someone you only know of. Do you think they got through their journey on a direct path? Not a chance.

So here you are. You had a goal and a plan. You were sent home. Your plan was put on hold.

More accurately, your plan was thrown in the garbage but your goal was not. However, your story continues. You’ve come up with a plan and you, and your team, are figuring it out. This is what you have always done – figure things out and thrive.

How you figure this out IS YOUR STORY.

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Celebrating Canada Day, Team Canada and you.

<La version française suit>

Happy Canada Day!

It’s July 1, 2020.  In any other Olympic year, we would be counting down the next 24 days with laser focus. You would be in your prime: ready. Team Canada would be pumped. But here we are – your preparation and performance on hold and the Maple Leaf that you so proudly wear in competition around the world remains tucked away, for now.

Even so, it’s never been more important for you to feel the strength and support that comes from being Canadian and part of Team Canada. There is the strength and support that you contribute to Team Canada and the strength and support that you receive from being one of its members. As Canadians, we embrace diversity, inclusion and community values. Together we are like individual threads that wind together to create the strength of a cable; collectively the strengths of some support others.

As a young athlete, I realized that I’d developed a deep connection to our flag. For so long it epitomized my dreams. I admit, I talked to it – sharing my ambitions and fears. In training, it kept me motivated and in competition, it kept me calm and focused.  

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Today is today. Make it a good one!

For a novel virus – it certainly feels like the novelty has worn off. I’d love to be saying, “way to go!”, that after 50+ days we’re almost done… but, as our collective actions continue to save tens of thousands of Canadian lives, we just don’t know when or how our stay-at-home advisories will be lifted. 

It may feel that your 2020 plans are on hold or even squashed entirely – they aren’t; but you will need to adapt them to fit 2021. I can imagine that all of this waiting-to-start is not easy; on your body or your brain, you have never trained to wait. (I have often said that waiting to race was way more stressful than actually racing.)   

Recently, Canadian Space Astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield spoke to a group of carded athletes about managing uncertainty. One of the first things he suggested was that we need to accept the new place that we are in, and more to the point, the new place YOU are in. Once you are over the shock that the plan that you had has changed; be it a mental plan, physical plan, or action plan – you need to accept that things have changed, that you are in a new place AND that you need to move forward. 

But how do you do that when your long-term planning is stalled? 

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