SEPTEMBER 28, 2010

Hey everyone!

It’s been another one of those weeks that I look back and think…how did this happen?!? After returning from New York City less than two weeks ago, I found myself in Vancouver for five days, home in Calgary for a day and then Las Vegas for a few more where I reminded myself what being prepared (and unprepared) mean during competition. I’m sitting on, wait for it… wait for it… yet another airplane as I write to you all. I have found writing on planes is the most relaxing thing for me amidst the packing, unpacking and security checks that have become my life lately, so thank you!

My most recent travels, as I mentioned, found me home for about 32 hours after arriving from New York. This gave me just enough time for laundry, dinner with a couple of friends, a business meeting about a seminar project a success coach and I are putting together and finding a ride to the Calgary airport.

Luckily this time I was headed to one of my favorite places in the world - Vancouver!

Yes, I am a bit biased when it comes to my opinion of this city, but can you blame me? This time I was there speaking at an Executive Summit being hosted by O.C. Tanner. O.C. Tanner has been responsible for producing the team rings for the U.S. Olympic Teams for a while now; so a very fun company to work for as I got to bring all three of my Olympic Team rings with me! I spoke in front of more than one hundred high level executives from a hundred different companies. It is always very cool to be in a room full of highly motivated and accomplished individuals that are looking to gain a different perspective and grow.

The one thing I’ve found consistent across the board of successful people - athletes, business executives or artists - is the ability to realize they are not perfect and should always be looking for ways to improve. It never mattered what kind of success I had on the bobsled track, at no point did I think I was the best or did I think I had it all figured out. That eternally gave me the hunger to improve. Sometimes that meant working harder in the gym and sometimes that meant looking through hours of video to find the places that my team and I could improve.

I know one thing’s for sure, Justin Olsen won’t miss me calling him into my room to go over video with him every night while training in Lake Placid or overseas in Europe during the World Cup season!

The same lessons I learned in sport I now teach to business execs around the country. It's those same principles, or rather, not utilizing those principles that led me to lose some money in Las Vegas this past weekend.

My old college roommate and I headed there for a few days to celebrate his birthday and have a poker weekend at the Venetian Casino. Ironically, his birthday was actually February 26th, day one of the 4-man race at the Olympics in Vancouver. This was the first window of time I’ve had to take the trip with him so it was great to finally spend some time with my good friend that taught me one of my favorite hobbies- Texas Hold‘em Poker.

We had been looking forward to this trip for a while now and I kept meaning to find my way over to one of the casinos in Calgary to practice-up a bit. But as we all know, with the way my life has been, finding some free time while at home isn’t the easiest thing to do and I ended up getting on the plane to Vegas having not played poker in about 5 months.

I should start with saying that I see poker as a game of skill that over the long haul overrides luck. I felt like I should be ok even with some time off… that all the experience I’ve had playing in the past would take over and my game would come back to me in an instant. I very quickly learned what I had already known; preparation is the key to all success, and I was not prepared. It was as if I was heading into Bobsled World Championships without having trained for 5 months. I just wouldn’t do that in sport so why did I do that to myself in another competition that I value winning so highly?

Don’t get me wrong, losing money is no fun. Losing ‘period’ is even less fun for me. After 2 days of playing losing poker I finally told myself that I needed to focus a lot harder, realize that I was outmatched right now and play a bit more conservative. This strategy paid off and I happily did much better by my last night at the tables but still well below the bar for success that I set for myself.

I had a lot of fun sitting with my friend for days on end playing a game we love but mark my words, next time I play that game in any serious fashion the results will be completely different. I mean, if I can just take my own advice next time I’ll be ok!

We all go through times when things like this happen, but as I learned in my athletic career, failure is acceptable with one caveat - learn why it happened and fix it so you don’t have to feel that again! I simply have to remember there is no failure when you are well prepared. With preparedness comes confidence and with confidence comes the ability to capitalize on opportunity.

All you Vegas sharks better watch out next round. This Olympian doesn’t make the same mistake twice!