The Value of Your Story – and Thank You

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How and what we reflect on an experience continues to evolve for years.

Holy moly. It’s mid October 2021!! We’ve been home from Tokyo for two months already and the 2022 Olympic Winter Games are less than four months away?!! How does time move so slowly and then whoosh… it just takes off?!!

It’s taken me longer than expected to write this (last) message to you. I’m sorry about that – but perhaps you understand. I had a great time coming home; getting caught up and reconnected mentally, physically and emotionally. But as happens after every major Games something was missing, and once again that affected me; but I’m coming through it now. Ah nee nah

My delay came from a waning feeling of purpose. Perhaps you’ve felt this too. Preparing for the Olympics has always made defining my daily why and what for my pre-Games days, weeks and months so easy. I’ll admit that I’ve come home from more than a few Games into a doldrums of purpose that could get dark at times. Dark…that’s the word my generation used for depressing. I would often get depressed after Games, but I was lucky – it rarely took much for me to refresh my purpose and spirit. I know that Game Plan advisors have reached out to you (all the athletes), and I took great comfort in that. They are still available to you, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Ah nee nah

That five year cycle was a grind, and the next (if you’re hungry for more) – at only three years – will crank up quickly. Take the time you need to recover, get your physical and emotional battery back in the top half and determine what your new whats and whys are going to be; it’s important for your future physical and mental performance. 

I strongly believe in the message I sent as you left Japan; that everything that you gave there, your Olympic Everything, was far more than just your performance in Tokyo (or Sapporo). It was more than just your talents on the field of play.

I want to draw your attention to the value of you and the story that you have to share now. The skills that you gained from your Olympic campaign during a pandemic would stand up in any executive training environment. While the world is talking about the need for resilience, you and your team exemplified how to creatively adapt and roll with the roughest seas all while keeping your eyes on your prize. Talking about goal-setting is one thing, but a conversation with you on goal-achieving would be a master class. Please don’t forget that.

Your story – this adventure you’re living – has incredible worth. How you value things like 1cm, 1/100th of a second, a point or ½ kg is inspirational. Think about what you know about commitment, preparation, managing change and challenge, team work, communication, stress management, mental/physical health management, resetting after victory/resetting after loss, and of course – resilience. What you take for granted as common practice is mind-blowing to others.

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We laugh, we cry, we go home with more…

It seems to take forever for the Olympics to finally come and then – in what seems like the blink of an eye – it’s time to go. 

Congratulations on everything. I mean everything – your Olympic everything was more than your performance here. Your everything includes the tremendous amount of work that you did, the ups, the downs, the go homes, the stay homes. It includes the wins, the losses, the no competitions, the injuries, the ‘repairs’, and the countless choices that affected your family/career/education. Through all of that,you made it to this global mountaintop –the Olympics. 

I hope you are going home feeling great about your performance and the same about your result. I know that this isn’t the case for everyone, but a part of you, that will grow with time and perspective, should be really proud of what you’ve accomplished.  

We tend to get so emotionally committed to the result that it feels as if we ARE the result, but that’s not true. Regardless if we win, lose or land somewhere in between, the result does not define us. Who you are doesn’t change because you are an Olympian; who you are remains determined by what you already had –what is in your head, and what is in your heart.

The Olympics is an environment where, by definition, everyone — including you – is extraordinary at their sport. This is the crème de la crème: entry is limited by qualification and there are countless competitors who tried but couldn’t get here. Despite the length and chaos of this 5-year cycle, you made it and you did the best you could. That is amazing. Bravo! 

The performance (think about what you did,not how you did), was the target of your preparation – it was yours to give. You came to the Olympics on a foundation of confidence – proud of the work that you, your teammates, your coaches and everyone around you had done. Results don’t make that more or less worthy. Don’t forget the value of your work when the task is over; that preparation was your epic story.

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Let Me Introduce My Tsewtsáwḵen Drum

Me and my drum are often the only fan in the stands. I came to have it through ceremony with purpose. The ceremony was conducted by Xwechtaal Elder Dennis Joseph along with Joseph’s son Ghee-ka-laas (Koru Joseph)

My drum has been with me to over 21 Olympic venues, witnessing over 40 Olympic competitions. We’re getting around – and we have a purpose! I’ll begin with Huy chexw – thank you to Tewanee, Rae-Ann, Koru, Timu, and Melina Joseph for this beautiful gift. Huy chexw Xwechtall, Elder Dennis Joseph for leading the work that was done. Huy chexw to Tsawaysin Spukwas, Alice Guss for making it and to Koru for the beautiful design.

It’s heard across Olympic venues every day, the drum is the heartbeat of the First Nations but has also quickly become the heartbeat of Team Canada in Tokyo. “I had wanted a drum so that Team Canada could hear that someone was there for them,” said McBean. “When I asked Tewanee if this was an appropriate use – he said that it would be and that a drum represents the heartbeat of a community. I knew then this was for friends and family so that their heartbeat could resonate across stadiums. I don’t always know if the athletes can hear it, but I know the families would be making noise – so I make as much noise as I can.”

Joseph, who was CEO of the Four Host First Nations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, presented the drum, messages from the Squamish Nation community as well as orange lapel ribbons to Canadian Olympic Committee President Tricia Smith.

I spoke with Anastacia Bucis about the drum for an RBC Spotlight feature.

Smith was joined by Olympian Christine Nesbitt, John McBean (Marnie’s brother), Mike Bryden (husband to the late rowing champion Kathleen Heddle), Olympian Clara Hughes, and Tewannee’s daughter Sx̱ánanulh (Melina Joseph) who were called as witnesses. The ceremony was conducted by Xwechtaal Elder Dennis Joseph along with Tewanee’s son Ghee-ka-laas (Koru Joseph). 

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Hello from the Olympic Village! | Salutations du Village olympique!

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The Olympic Village is fantastic and our advance members of the Canadian Team have set up an amazing space for us here – I can’t wait for you to join us in Tokyo! I’ve already been doing my daily spit collection and temperature recording and, just like in Canada, I wear my mask, wash my hands and keep some distance from those around me. Even though it’s different – trust me, as athletes are now arriving – the potential energy is building… it feels VERY OLYMPIC here!

I know not all of you will be coming to the OV and while reports from many of the host cities and venues have been that they are organized and incredibly welcoming, there are some areas where COVID-19 concerns prevail. Whatever your situation – we’ll do everything we can to make it better, but please – don’t let it throw you off course. 

I’ve mentioned many times that this is my 10th Olympic Games, so that means 10 Olympic Villages, 10 Olympic “Vibes” and 10 Host Cities, their volunteers and host populations.  So far – I’ve met nothing but friendly excited faces – but we know that there is tension among the Japanese public, and the Japanese Government is determined that these will be a safe and successful Games, for the athletes and the Japanese people. And they will be! 

The other day, in the global Chef de Mission meeting, IOC President Thomas Bach stressed the importance of following all COVID-19 Protocols “regardless if you think they are logical or not.” That the Playbook rules exist and are enforced is the reason that the Government of Japan allowed the IOC to have these Games. Without the Playbook rules we’d all be waiting another 3 years for the Paris 2024 Games for the chance to challenge our Olympic Dreams.

This is not the time, nor the Games, to be looking for “grey zone” work arounds. Whether you are in Tokyo or in a pre-Games Host City, just settle into the rules, play by them and thrive in the environment that is. It is what it is – and someone is going to win in these conditions.

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