My exclusive interview with 3x Olympic Gold Medalist, Marnie McBean.
Here’s a sneak peek at a section from my upcoming book, Lead with AND.
Marnie McBean is one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians, having won three gold medals in the sport of rowing. She is a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada. As a former specialist in Olympic Athlete Preparation and Mentoring for the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), Marnie prepared athletes emotionally and psychologically to ensure that they performed at the highest level.
In recognition of her work, she was named Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In this role, she acted as a spokesperson for Team Canada and a mentor for the athletes, coaches, and staff, all with the aim of creating an inclusive environment conducive to optimal performance.
She is also the author of The Power of More: How Small Steps Help Us Achieve Big Goals, which outlines how she sets and achieves goals, both in sports and in life.
Marnie exemplifies the blend of confidence AND humility better than anyone I know. I was fortunate enough to interview her for my new book, Lead with AND, and learn about how she manages this tension. Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
What are things that you do to gain the positive results of humility?
Crave critical feedback. As an athlete, if my coach spent an hour watching me row and didn’t provide critical feedback on how I could improve, I’d be upset. To be the best, you need constant constructive criticism. I needed to know each day what I could be working on to improve from the day before. When I left full-time competition and entered “the civilian world,” I realized how rare ongoing feedback was. People would wait until a scheduled performance review to tell me about a concern they had with me months ago. A clear sign that you’re not demanding enough feedback is when you go from expecting and craving it to worrying about it and taking it personally.
What are things that you do to gain the positive results of confidence?
Have a “done” list. Ambitious people are often fixated on their to-do list, but part of confidence is having a “done” list. Staying connected to your successes and being reminded of the challenging tasks you have accomplished helps you deal with the inevitable stress that comes from the desire to achieve great things. Constantly adding to and reviewing your done list will build your confidence as you continue to push forward and through your increasingly busy and challenging to-do list.
What is an early warning sign that you’re over-focusing on humility to the neglect of confidence?
Not Trusting Your Gut – I’ve never been a person to keep my internal dialogue to myself. I generally say what I think and feel. Because of this, anytime I notice myself holding back or supporting a decision I’m not feeling great about, I see that as a red flag. It’s not always bad for me to hold back—sometimes it’s showing discretion, which is a good thing—but most of the time, it’s a sign that I’m not standing in the confidence I should have.
This past year, I have been at the decision-making table to determine how Canada will (or won’t) participate in the Tokyo Olympics based on the risk of COVID-19. At times, I found myself holding back or not challenging suggestions I disagreed with because I was listening too much to the voice in my head saying, “Who am I to have an opinion?” That’s when I reminded myself that I needed to be brave and have the confidence to offer my opinion and my unique point of view regardless of the outcome.
What is an early warning sign that you’re over-focusing on confidence to the neglect of humility?
Lack of Curiosity – This can happen on a few levels. Anytime you feel that you’ve learned enough in your area of expertise and have “opened all the doors” required, that’s a red flag. You’ll never progress to the level of a champion, veteran, or mentor with a belief that you’ve learned enough. Instead, you’ll inevitably get stuck, and the doors that you have opened will become outdated.
On an interpersonal level, anytime I find that my conversations are too much about me, what I know, and what I’ve done, as opposed to what I’m learning or what I can learn from the person, I see that as a red flag as well. I can be guilty of this one! After a conversation with friends, if my wife asks me, “So how’s that person doing?,” and I don’t really know, I take it as a reminder that I have to keep working on this!
Stay tuned to read the rest of this insightful interview in my upcoming book, Lead with AND which will be released February, 15th, 2022 – mark your calendar! Download the first three chapters right now for free. Simply visit www.leadwithand.com.