You are your best teacher

On July 27th the 1-year countdown to the London Olympics began. If you’ve never been to an Olympics before, you may think that July 27, 2012 seems very far away, but veterans know that time is going to start feeling like it’s passing by faster and faster.

In the next year there is still a lot to learn and do. Along with all the training, some of you have the Pan Am Games in your sights, whereas others still have World Championships. Qualifying for the Olympics will be a major focus for almost everyone.  There is much to learn from your coaches, and trainers. You will also learn from your teammates and your opposition.  But never forget that the person you can potentially learn from the most is yourself.

A “stone age” ago, photo albums and journals were actual books; created with pen and paper.  If you were curious, or simply bored or tired you could just flip through the pages and reminisce. I remember pulling out my 1991/92 journals and as I prepared for the 1996 Olympics I was surprised and comforted by my own words written four years earlier. I had written of the anticipation, the stress of selection, the questions from my family, the volume and intensity of training, the aches and pains throughout my body, and even the technical lessons I was learning on the water.  Very little was different four years later and I remembered that gave me a calm perspective and let me simply focus on the task at hand. Learning from my own previous experiences helped me to have another gold medal Games in ’96.

Do you journal (to yourself)? Do you blog (to the public)? I think writing to yourself is a tremendous resource and I recommend that you consider it.  Write as much after your victories as you do after your defeats. You can frame your confidence on a great day and release all your anxieties when you have struggled. A private journal entry can be a great place to diffuse a confrontation – but caution – a blog entry may do just the opposite!

Either way, electronic or in a book – take the time to go back over your old entries. Remind yourself of past epic days; of fears and doubts that you (or didn’t) overcame; of your confidence and readiness as you faced big challenges. You are stronger and wiser now, but it never hurts to be reminded of what was. As you knew yourself then — you know yourself inside and out better than anyone. Take some time to look back. Remind yourself of the things you wanted to fix or the things you wanted to keep repeating.

You are your best teacher.

Marnie McBean

3x Gold Medalist – Rowing.

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