Saturday, May 16, 2015

Special Spotlight: James McNaughton (Olympian)

1st What interested you in the bobsled?

My career in bobsled started quite differently from the traditional childhood dream becomes reality story! 

 I grew up loving adrenaline sports and fast machines.  In high school I was introduced to football and fell in love with the team dynamics, the explosive nature of the sport and the dedication to training that it required.  My football career continued at the University of Ottawa, where I dreamed of playing professional football one day. 

Everything was on track to make a run at the CFL as I was playing well, and was in excellent physical condition, until a conversation I had with Bill (my best friend, high school teammate, home town training partner, and rival- he played at McMaster University).  He had watched the movie "Cool Runnings" which sparked the conversation of how odd of a sport bobsled was.  We began to question how anyone, especially people from Jamaica get involved in such an obscure sport. 

This led to subsequent conversations after researching the sport a bit, of: "Man, they have open try outs across Canada, we should go out just to tell our kids one day that we tried out for the Canadian Bobsled team" to "Hey, I looked up the testing criteria, and we actually might be really good at this".  That's when things became a little more serious. 

We were both in excellent physical condition as we took our training extremely serious, and pushed one another to the limit in our workouts. 

 We decided we'd give this a real shot, and changed our training programs to peak for the ID camp that was being held in July at York University. 

 After showing the coaches what we had in terms of speed and power, we were flown out to Calgary to see if we could actually push, and I guess the coaches were not disappointed, as the direction of both of our lives changed drastically.

  Next thing we knew, my best friend and I are appointed to the Canadian Bobsleigh team and are going to be competing internationally! 

 Our next goal was to compete on the same sled at the 2014 Winter Olympics, but those dreams grinded to a halt in January when Bill was involved in the worst crash bobsleigh had witnessed in over 30 years.  He was hospitalized for several weeks with severe head and back injuries, and was unable to recover enough to return to the sport. 

 I was pretty freaked out after having my best friend nearly die but decided that I would not let our dreams die, and used that accident to motivate me when training got hard and competition got tough, and it helped me make it to Sochi. 

Talk about a curve ball in my life!

  I had unknowingly been training for this sport all along, and ended up representing our country at the biggest sporting event in the world 3 years after discovering the sport! 

2nd What lesson can you share from journey to the Olympics in Sochi

The best lesson I can share from my journey to the Sochi Olympics is that hard work pays off.  I had a lot of work to do to be ready to compete at the Olympics 3 years after discovering the sport! 

 This meant I had to give up a lot in order to get up to speed, meaning, no more cottage weekends, no more parties, no more junk food, just train, eat, train, sleep, train!

 Looking back, I have zero regrets for making those sacrifices, and the only memories I have of those hard years of training are the spoils of all of that work! 

3rd Can you share a strategy or lesson that entrepreneurs can share in their business.

 Don't worry about the end result, focus on the journey!  This motto is what guides me through life, and I can say for certain that I owe all of my achievements to it! 

In the 3 years leading up to the Olympics, I was named an alternate every single year.  My family and friends were always questioning why I wasn't named to a team right away, and I even received some advice along the lines of "You don't honestly think you'll make the Olympics do you?  Maybe you should just give it up and get a real job.". 

As in life, nothing is just handed to you, and instead of worrying about how I wasn't named to a team, or how I had lost in a sprint to the guy who was gunning for my spot on the sled, I worried about what I could control at the moment, and that was, how I could improve to get on a team, or to beat that guy in a sprint.  I needed to always be moving forward and couldn't afford to waste my time worrying about things that were out of my control. 

 If I did that, I knew the results would come, and sure enough, they did!  I wasn't much of an "individual tester" meaning I didn't perform as well on my own as I did with my team, however, teams are chosen based on individual testing results.  Each season, after being named an alternate, I was able to beat out my competition within the first couple of weeks of the season, and was always a member of the team for World Championships and the big one, the Olympics! 

 Had I let the end result guide journey, I would have seen each obstacle I faced as a major failure, and I can tell you for certain that I would not have made it to the Olympics! 

 Focusing all of my energy on the journey, helped me address the little things that you very easily overlook when you are only thinking about the end result. 

 My best advice for any entrepreneur is to slow it down, take things day by day, and know that if you are giving something your all, you will end up exactly where you want to be!

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