The Bright Side
I spent the last week at home in Whitehorse, Yukon. The smiles (and upside-down smiles) I saw from both athletes and coaches at Yukon Ski Team training sessions got me thinking about the part attitude can play in sport and life. I’m not sure who first taught me the importance of staying positive – it could have been any one of the enthusiastic Yukon coaches. Whichever one he or she was, the idea has stayed with me since I started racing competitively, and I think being positive is essential to reaching your goals.
I know how easy it can be to get discouraged when things don’t go the way you want them to. I’ve had a few injuries and it is always frustrating, even if you only have to modify your training for a month. But I haven’t ever found that being negative helps the situation at all. In fact, focusing on what you can do usually ends up in you coming out ahead. For example, after being on crutches for several months following surgery, I found I could do lots more dips than before. Although my calf muscle atrophied a huge amount, my upper body strength definitely increased.
You don’t have to have a specific setback to change your mindset though. Some people have a tendency towards negativity and this generally doesn’t help anyone, especially in a team environment. On the other hand, a teammate with an enthusiastic attitude can bring the whole group up. After a great hometown Canada Games last season, the Yukon Team was pretty pumped, not just the athletes who participated, but all the other skiers as well. There were smiles everywhere. I don’t want to discredit any my teammates’ hard work, but I think the positive atmosphere helped the Yukon have one of the best Nationals we have ever had. It wasn’t just the medals: it was all the personal bests and the great races the whole team had. For me, it was impossible to be anything but happy for everyone that week in Quebec.
And isn’t it so much nicer to be happy? I’m not sure about you, but I’d rather be glad that at least it’s not raining when I’m cycling on the cold, windy Alaska Highway than focused on how hard the next two hours are going to be. Look on the bright side!