Be Extraordinary – Western Alumni Gazette – A chat with Marnie


A chat with Marnie about Performance and Winning

by Jason Winders, MES’16, PhD’16 | October 13, 2017

One of the most decorated athletes in Canadian history – most notably as a three-time Olympic gold medalist – Marnie McBean, BA’97, LLD’03, shares what she learned from a life on the water at Western and beyond.

My ultimate thing was not to win, but to get better. Getting better all the time meant attention to detail, to learning, to figuring things out. And all that – that attention to things – took care of winning.

I was not a star athlete. I always made teams. But I was never the star. I was not a scorer or a playmaker. I was a grinder who moved things along. But I have come to understand that everyone is excellent at something; it is the lucky few who find what that is.

I had great water feel. I wasn’t a great rower at the beginning, but somebody saw something about me on the water. And that was me – it was being on the water, how rowing boats moved, knowing how a team moved together. I loved it from the first day.

Get a feel for your water. I cannot hit a three-pointer. I don’t have that kind of coordination. But I have water feel.

When you find that thing you are great at, it is easy to put time into it. It will always feel like a choice. It will always feel like you are choosing to be more. 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

Finding answers from the ‘Don’t’ side


don't13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do – 

Digging around the internet I’m always looking for … stuff. Stuff that holds my attention, stuff that gets me thinking, stuff that teaches me something new – or reminds me of things I’ve forgotten. It seems that the following list by compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, originally posted in  LifeHack is the kind of stuff that appeals to me  – and apparently to many others. When I found it – it had over 185k shares and where I had found it, reposted by Cheryl Conner on Forbes’ web site , it had been viewed over 2.5million times.

Much of what we study to improve ourselves is from the perspective of what we SHOULD do… but that doesn’t always jive with how I think. Sometimes I find it easier to tell you what, or where I don’t want to eat vs what I do want to eat. Looking for an new job or career? The options can be so vast that we can’t even begin to articulate what we DO want to do – but can can be quite clear on the things that we DON’T want to do. Same with where you want to live, who you want to be with…  etc etc. There is nothing wrong with discovering your answers from the perspective of what you don’t want. In fact – coming at it from that side might reveal more options than you would have included from the perspective of what you do want.

The refreshing part of this list/article is that it’s not hesitant to articulate what mentally strong people DON’T do. And today – that’s the kind of stuff that is resonating with me.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do –

Mentally strong people have healthy habits. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life. Check out these things that mentally strong people don’t do so that you too can become more mentally strong.

1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves

Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.

2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power

They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond. Continue reading