“Everything that I’ve ever been able to accomplish in skating and in life has come out of adversity and perseverance.”
–Scott Hamilton, former Olympic figure skating champion
This is true for so many people. I remember meeting some incredible student leaders when I was in highschool who had come through very challenging life experiences – eating disorders, abusive relationships, death of a parent, mental health challenges etc. and who had emerged as incredibly strong people committed to causes they were passionate about. They were examples of the saying “if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.”
While I don’t subscribe to that line of thinking as a general rule, there are people who are able to persevere through adversity like Scott Hamilton and achieve incredible things. We are often treated to stories during the Olympics about people who have sacrificed many things and overcome life challenges to get to the top tier of their sport.
We definitely produce our share of Olympic figure skaters in Canada, no doubt because we have so much ice (-34 degrees Celsius with windchill here today). We recently had the opportunity to see some of these Canadian and world figuring skating stars. The show was organized by Elizabeth Manley (’88 Olympic silver medalist) and featured a number of national champions and Olympians.
I didn’t tell Laura or the girls where we were going. I provided a hint en route, which Laura figured out immediately as I knew she would. She then started telling the girls about Manley and skating through illness to win the silver. My oldest then said “that is a really good story about perseverance.”
So much of what we try to teach our kids is about perseverance. I often find myself telling the girls that they need to practice, or that it is ok to not be able to do something as well as they would like to because it takes practice to get better. I said it a lot when teaching them to ride their bikes or when we go skating. We learn and grow by perseverance. Although it would take me an incredible amount of perseverance to learn how to figure skate and hula hoop at same time…
This particular show was a fundraiser for youth mental health services in Ottawa. Sometimes mental health issues make it harder to get back up or even figure out how getting back up is possible. Then we need the help of services like these to get back up.
The challenge for kids is that they often can’t see the end result or their path to that result. They see friend riding a bike and want to be able to do it too. When it comes to learning how to start and stop and get their balance it all seems so much harder than what their friend is doing. When I was teaching the girls to ride I made sure to cheer each milestone in their journey so they could feel that they were making progress. Not all journeys are as easy or measurable.
I expect that the journey to becoming a world class athlete is filled with many more obstacles and much more self-doubt, which makes it all the more incredible when people rise to these levels. It must take such incredible focus and dedication to achieve such a goal and maintain the high levels of motivation to keep going. Imagine the mental strength required to keep going if you reach the international stage and fall during a routine or trip while running or crash your bobsled or even if you are just to sick to participate.
It all makes me wonder how to inspire that kind of drive and motivation in my kids or if that is my role. I’ve never believed that other people motivate me. I may be inspired by what others achieve. However the only person who can motivate me to do anything is me.
Maybe I should focus on inspiring the girls to wash their hands before dinner and clean their rooms and leave the motivating to them?
I was provided the tickets to the Elizabeth Manley and Friends Ice Show at no cost.