Throughout the RIO 2016 Olympic Games, Maxime Boilard, chairman and founder of CANU and former Olympian himself, wrote 4 articles in La Presse. Several challenges, emotions, failures and success of the Olympics are also found in businesses’ experiences. One of CANU’s signature approaches is to match the athletes and the entrepreneurial spirits in order to facilitate the understanding of the challenges and continuous success in both sports and business.
This is third his paper:
The Olympic Games reflect the disproportionate, and often unhealthy, of value that we attach to the end result. At victory time, we don’t really care about the individual as much as we care for the success and achievement symbol he or she stands for; something unique and ephemeral to be consumed immediately. With the consequence that the athlete becomes attached to the outcome as if his life depended on it.
As long as the athlete is defined by his results, he is trapped for two main reasons. First, in order to “be”, he will always need to start over. When we think about it, as soon as a result is reached, it is already behind the athlete. In time, his ability to improve will taper because the better he becomes, the more difficult it is to go on to the next level, especially when this level does not exist.
Second, the athlete does not control the outcome since it depends on the performance of other athletes, as well as external conditions for certain sports, or judges’ opinion for others. Just ask the Danish and German in K-1 1000m in the Olympic final, who dragged algae for several hundred meters, slowing him down. Imagine the pain of someone defining himself by a result over which he had no control.
The athlete controls his effort, his tactical plan and its implementation. He also controls the path that leads up to the competition. His state of mind, philosophy of life and how he intends to make sense of this experience. Results are a partial consequence of this. It is imperative for his mental health that the athlete values what he can control; otherwise, his Olympian calm becomes Olympic pressure.
In Rio, Adam Van Koeverden experienced something new in his kayak. After 20 years in his boat, he said he had just traveled his purest 1,000 m. Adam got up Tuesday morning to make a run without any possibilities of being on the podium since it was the consolation final. The image is powerful: he shows up for his warm-up routine shirtless, without a watch, without a cardio-frequency meter. He paddles by feeling. No need for numbers and measures. The impact on his performance? First in the consolation final. His time would have placed him second in the final. Doing so, Adam freed himself from the weight that places a burden on the existence of those who think they need to win to be happy. His greatest pride in the firmament of his career? To have belonged for years to an international brotherhood of paddlers appreciative of each other and pushing with every lasting breath to give it their all. Friendship.
Brianne Theisen-Eaton, bronze medalist in the heptathlon in Rio, spoke of her nervousness before her trials. Along with her psychologist, they developed an exercise where Brianne can reposition herself to face what’s coming. It sounds like this: “I’m not gambling my life, here, with this event. I have other things in my life: a husband, my studies, people who love me, etc. ” A recurring thought. Focusing one’s wellbeing on future results. Less enjoying one’s daily life. Not seeing the beauty in things. Passion declines.
Bolt and De Grasse were chatting during the last 30 meters of their semi-final. Pure Bolt. Playing around is a good way to handle stress.stress. It’s good to play. When two play…it’s even better!
Without hindsight on it, the world of sports is a world where one exists to achieve a goal and this goal expresses itself in results. When he retires, the athlete begins to see more clearly. He looks back and cherishes relationships, moments when he was true. He cherishes life lessons made through a total commitment to surpass himself with others.
We athletes would do well to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are ready to change the “Game” as it is played, or whether we prefer to change it in our memories. We would avoid so much unnecessary pain. Let’s begin by being well, it will help us to be good. Not so that we could be better examples, but so that we could be more realistic ones.
By Maxim Boilard
Translation by Lucie Ricard