Monday, November 29, 2010

An Afternoon of Inspiration

I take my daughter Rachel to piano lessons every Saturday. For more than a year she has never complained and looks forward to each session. When I picked her up after her lesson this past Saturday, she had the saddest look on her face. Pouting and close to tears she told me she wanted to quit. That it was “too hard” and “I just can’t read the notes.” I felt terrible for her. I pulled out the best Mommy Pep-Talk 101 speech and tried to encourage her to stick with it. That the further she goes, the more challenges she will face. That nothing comes easy and with time and practice she will master the piano. She wasn’t convinced and was “going to think about it.”

The next day I attended a very special Holiday High Tea fundraiser for amateur Canadian athletes put on by my friend and client Jane Roos, who has raised more money for Canadian athletes outside of the COC. She is a powerhouse of a woman and runs the Canadian Athletes Now Fund. I took Rachel with me. She really didn’t want to go to a “grown up” event but the mention of Canadian athletes showing their medals was enough to entice my nine year old .. and the idea of eating “itsy bitsy sandwiches” sounded interesting too!

The room at the Park Hyatt was full and more than 20 athletes were in the room. Four female Canadian athletes took the stage to share their amazing stories of challenges and triumphs. They were Jayna Hefford, four time Olympic Gold Medalist in women’s hockey; Annamay Pierse, swimmer, who made her Olympic debut in Beijing this year and who currently holds the world record in the 200 meter breast stroke; Karen Cockburn, three time Olympic medalist in Trampoline and my favourite speaker of the day and finally, Tracy Cameron, the bubbly rower from Nova Scotia who won bronze at Beijing in lightweight doubles rowing.

One overriding message was clear .... The road to your end goal is not an easy one. Fraught with injuries, personal challenges, mental commitment and endurance limitations, these young women overcame huge obstacles to get to the Olympics. The athletes sheer determination to “go for gold” is unlike anything I could ever imagine. I don’t think I’ve approached an RFP with that much guts! I was truly inspired by their stories.

By the end of the afternoon, my daughter was enthralled with each speaker. She listened attentively and without missing a word. She took it all in and absorbed the messages. She found four real role-models.

We got to the car, and she didn’t say a thing. She just stared out the front windshield. After a few minutes she turned to me and said “Mom, I’ll be going to my piano lesson next Saturday.”

Mission accomplished. Thanks Jane ... for everything!

Annamay Pierse (swimmer) and Rachel

Karen Cockburn (tramploine) with Silver medal and Rachel

Founder of CanFund Jane Roos, Rachel and Moi!

All the amazing athletes in attendance yesterday!


Zack Sandor-Kerr said...

Whether nine, 29 or 59 years old, that extrinsic inspiration is what we need to re-discover the intrinsic motivation to push ourselves towards our goals.

Thanks for sharing!

Guy Skipworth said...

What a great story and lesson for parents and kids.

I've had the pleasure of working with Jane Roos and she is a great example of persevering against great odds.

You are a smart Mom.

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