On a recent media trip to Panorama, B.C., I had the opportunity to interview Kimberly Joines, who competes at the World Cup level on the Canadian Paralympic Ski Team, and who is heading to Sochi, Russia for the Paralympic Winter Games in March, following the Olympic Winter Games in February.
Kimberly is a "Sit Skier", meaning she skis down the hill (at record speed, naturally) in a custom built "bucket" and mono ski. Kimberly found herself in a wheelchair after breaking her back during a snowboard accident. When I commented on her courage and drive to literally pick herself back up and get right back in the game, at a much higher level, she looked at me and said "What else was I going to do? Sit on the couch for the rest of my life?" I said, frankly, yes, that I thought a lot of people might do just that. In fact, there are some that do that now, with a perfectly healthy back.
Kimberly's spirit is incredibly strong. She has also decided to be the boss of her own future. Stay with me for this next segue.
Two days later while sitting in a hotel room in Detroit, I found myself watching an old episode of The Brady Bunch. There only are old episodes, as this show aired in the 1970's. This particular show had their youngest daughter, Cindy, about eight years old, dealing with a bully, Buddy Hinton, making fun of her lisp. When she complains to mom and dad, they tell her to "fix" her lisp by taking books out of the library with lots of "s's" in them, and reading them out loud. They wanted HER to fix HER own problem. Today, those parents would be marching into the school demanding that someone change the other child's behavior. Arguably, this is not acceptable, civil behaviour and I don't advocate bullying at all, but I do think that parents are quick to either fix the problem for the child themselves, or to go to the school authorities to have them deal with it. While it might be admirable and reflexive to protect our children, eventually, like Kimberly, they're going to have to have the strong self-motivation to move forward through any type of small or significant obstacle.
Later that same day I had the opportunity to meet Mary Barra, the first female CEO of a global automobile company, heading up General Motors. Mary, a professional engineer in a profession and industry dominated by men, worked her way up to the very top of the company. I'm willing to bet she has fought her own battles with her own Buddy Hintons as well, to rise to be the boss. No couch sitting for Mary, either.
The ability to take control and find the motivation to act and advocate for ourselves is a skill set our children, maybe particularly our daughters, need to learn in order to grow up to be world class athletes or CEOs. So the next time they're facing a "battle", or a "Buddy", take a step back, so they can make a move forward.
(Kimberly won a silver medal in the World Cup event at Panorama Resort just after I interviewed her. She is keen to gather Twitter Followers leading up to her Sochi performance, follow along with her at @9livesjoines)
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