I remember when I first came to Canada 21 years ago, to take over the running of Polygram in Canada –  my boss in London handed me a file to read  marked “Canada – Confidential”  as part of my “briefing” before coming here.

The file was quite thick and contained all the usual stuff like market share, competition etc. In the file – there was also a feature article on Canada from The Economist written at about that time.

I still remember one of the sub-headings that asked the question – “Does Canada have a passion for bronze?”

I can’t remember all the details – but it seemed to imply we had this slight inferiority complex as a nation – particularly in regards to the United States.

Watching the Olympics today on Day 4 – when Canada won its 4th bronze medal, made me remember the article and made me wonder about our motivation as a people and my own beliefs about personal motivation

Here are my thoughts:

1.  Canadians are just as motivated as anybody else

  • I don’t think Canadians are intrinsically any less motivated than any other nation
  • That goes for us as individuals as well
  • The Vince Lombardi slogan – “Winning Isn’t everything – it’s the only thing” – does have its supporters – but if taken to extremes does more harm than good.
  • Check out the riots after the Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup finals if you need evidence of this. Taken at a local level – check-out parents who behave just as badly in local little league games
  • Fact is – we can’t all win and no matter how good you are now – you can’t win all the time
  • Should Michael Phelps – the world’s greatest swimming icon ever not have swum the other night only to have come 4th?

2.  Achieving your personal best – should that be the “gold standard”

  • Isn’t “you tried and you did your personal best” still a better standard to judge yourself by
  • Some people – divide the world into – “Winners”, “At Leasters” and “Losers”
  • “Losers” today – can be highly motivated to be winners tomorrow.
  • “At Leasters” are the ones hardest to motivate – they’re are just happy not to be “losers”

 3.  Trying too hard to win can be your un-doing

  • Boy how true this is. Look what happened to Adam Scott on the last 4 holes of the British Open – 2 weeks ago.
  • Call it what you want to – “choking” seems harsh – but the truth is he simply may have wanted victory too much
  • Even taken at a local level and you have one hole to play with your friends to shoot your best round ever  &  it’s really hard to say “I really don’t care! ”
  • But – that is the time you simply have to remind yourself –“it’s just a silly game Timmy”
  • The reality is – nobody but you cares about it!

I now have 3 hole in ones to my name – which is a little unusual for an “average hacker”.

I remember rushing home to excitedly tell my wife that I had my 3rd hole in one and she looks at me in a very non-pulsed way and  said – “oh that’s nice dear”. Talk about “damned by faint praise” for sure!

Needless to say – my wife is not a golfer!