I just got home from a drum clinic put on by a professional drummer named Kenny Aronoff. As I was listening to him discuss his philosophy about drumming and being a musician, it struck me how much I was nodding along saying to myself: yes, absolutely, spot on, nailed it, oh ya, uh huh, yup. So much of what he said applies to my experience as an elite athlete. He also talked about how having success in one arena transfers to another. This is something I try to articulate when I talk about becoming an Olympian; I try to impress on people that striving for excellence in whatever you gravitate toward will give you a road map for excellence in every other endeavour in your life.
The painful truth is that you will realize that nothing worth achieving is easy. In fact, knowing how hard it was for me and my teammates to get on the Olympic podium is very discouraging for me at times when I think about trying to do it again in Rio. It’s helpful because I know the path, but it’s also daunting because I know the path. But there’s this clarity in my life now where I feel like I know certain things with a conviction I never had before my Olympic journey. We all heard things growing up like work hard, persevere, be disciplined. We agree with these ideas but often never truly know them. To know them is to attempt something over a body of time measured in years and achieve your personal best. (3ish years of rowing is my example… it doesn’t have to be a lot of years.) If you do this you will find that the path to achieving your next goal becomes crystal clear. Clarity does not equal easy, but it gives you the courage to be persistent.