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High Performance: How to elevate your team to world class status.

Don’t underestimate yourself! You have a great story to tell and you are the expert of you.

My teammate in London and more importantly my friend Andreanne Morin reminded me of this the other night before I went into my speaking engagement at Vancouver’s City Hall. I don’t know if she gave me this advice because she has felt this in her own development as a speaker and lawyer, and or because she knew that I would need to hear this, me as a person. Either way, she was right on and I took this with me.

We also talked about leadership. Looking back to our London 2012 team and crew, I would say that Andreanne Morin and Darcy Marquardt were our most obvious leaders. Both going into their third Olympics, it would make sense that they had the most experience to draw from. Close to one another in terms of relationship, but differing slightly in their style and perspectives. We were lucky to have so many personalities and perspectives to juggle in any scenario. I would say this was a definite strength.

What made our crew special was that we were all leaders in our own way. Myself, Ashley, Rachelle, Natalie, Janine, Lauren and Lesley all lead in our own special way in addition to Darcy and Andreanne. We all had niches within the team that we filled. No one was carried. We had real talk and real respect for one another and if there was frustration we aired it. We didn’t try to muffle it and push through.

I believe this happens more than not in team environments. I am referring to friends who are enemies and scoffing at the water cooler. If I were to impart any wisdom on any team or group, I would say that you have to be honest with one another. In a team you need to feel heard and feel like you are contributing. You also need to trust one another and know that everyone is giving 100%. If you doubt one another and or harbor resentment it won’t go away. It will affect you and your performance. It may feel like a nuicance to face, too difficult, too hard, and or hurt someone’s feelings, but in the end it could save your team's investment. It is worth it. Speak up and do the work.

Mediators and or third parties can be great contributors to team development. Having someone observe and offer honest perspective and exercises to the group can help you make great progress.

Sports psychologist, Kirsten Barnes, helped work with our crew throughout my second Olympic cycle. One exercise in particular stood out for me. We met as a group to discuss individual needs going into racing. Only one office space was available that would provide us privacy. It was like being packed inside a mini van with twelve bodies, but it was intimate and we made it work. We huddled in and we went round circle to offer up our personal feelings and preferences on race day.

I recall feeling enlightened and informed after that meeting. In my opinion, it was an emotional “TSN turning point” for our crew. Listening and hearing each other helped me to not only help accommodate my teammate's needs, but also UNDERSTAND them.

Sport is and was an emotional endeavor for me. I worked better with others when I could understand them. When I could understand, I could empathize and when I could empathize, I could better support. It made me a better teammate.


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