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What I Learned from an Olympic Athlete

I had my Olympic moment early on in the competition.  I have to confess I don’t spend much time watching.  I can’t take the drama or intensity.  I just like to know we medalled – preferably gold in curling and hockey.  Curling is my sport.  Hockey is Canada’s sport.  It’s gold or go home.  (Joking. Sort of.) (P.S. Thank you Jennifer Jones!)

I need to take a lesson from one of our Canadian athletes, Kaya Turski.  She is one of the best freestyle skiers in the world, winning gold in Vancouver.  She’s coming off a knee injury and had a virus during her Olympic events, which were held in the first few days of competition.  She fell in both her runs.  Did she make excuses?  No.  Did she whine and complain?  No.  Instead she gave one of the most positive interviews I’ve ever seen.  She exemplified a good sport.   The CBC interviewer showed us the secret to her great attitude.  On her coat sleeve, Kaya had written some positive messages but the one they focused on said, “No moment defines me.”   WOW!  

This wasn’t just talk.  Listening to Kaya Turski speak after failing to even get a chance to defend her gold medal, you knew she lived it.  Was she disappointed?  Yeah!  But there was no shame in her voice.  Her smile was genuine.  I can’t recall her apologizing to the Canadian public.  She had done her best and that day it wasn’t good enough.  So be it.  She wasn’t defined by that defeat.  She obviously knows that her worth is not tied up in  skies and medals.  She knows she is worth so much more.  I’d love to know who taught her that life lesson!

For me, the really ironic thing, was the whole interview was done by one of my favourite CBC reporters, Adrienne Arsenault.  A woman who I used to kid was living out the life I once wanted.  But I let a failure, a moment, define me for way too many years.  I let it tell me what I could and couldn’t do.  I wish I had Kaya’s coat sleeve a few decades back. 

What happens when we let moments define us?

We live in either past glory or past failure.  Neither is good.   As soon as you’ve achieved it or failed at it, it’s in the PAST.  Everyone else has moved on, except you.  You are a slave to that particular moment.  You cannot escape it.

We continue to live out that moment in a very warped way.  In the case of defeat or failure, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I failed once, I will again.  I can’t becomes part of everyday language.  

Or it can make us so driven that nothing can stand in the way of erasing that particular failure or repeating past glory.  Whatever the case, all our worth is tied up in that one (or two) defining moments.

What happens if we choose to live like Kaya, and not let any one moment define us, good or bad?

We can move forward into the future, free of any strings pulling us back.  A slave to no one or no thing.

Our worth is not tied up in our performance.  A mistake is a point of learning.   

We know who we really are.  We know our true value as a person.  And we are free to discover who we were created to be because there is nothing holding us back.  We are open to all possibilities beyond our wildest imagination.  

I can say that I have moved on from that one moment.  It no longer defines me.  I want to think and believe like Kaya:  “No moment defines me.”  I am worth so much more.