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Who’s On Your Team?

Who’s On Your Team?

I have written on many occasions about the things I have observed and learned from my children. Here is another story whose genesis began with my daughter.

She absolutely loves the world of horse show jumping. She is constantly watching live streamed events from around the world, she is a student of the sport and is a rifer herself. I didn’t choose this for her, it just happened, and I am enjoying her enjoyment and learning along the way.

The people that she admires and role models come from this world. Her Austin Matthews is Jessica Springsteen, her Tom Brady is McLean Ward and her DeMar DeRozan is Kent Farrington.

Recently we were invited to an Equestrian Canadian sponsored event at the famous Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. My daughter and many other young riders learned about equestrian fitness and the rules about performance enhancing drugs etc. We were also able to spend time with one of International Show Jumping‘s absolute superstars, McLean Ward. McLean has won multiple Olympic, PanAm Games and World Championship Medals and continues to be one of the best in his sport.

I have had the opportunity to meet, interact with or at least observe many very successful people throughout my life. This has given me the opportunity to observe what is common and different about them.

There was one thing in particular that resonated for me out of this time with McLean. In 2017 he, for the first time, won the individual rider World Cup Championship. This is the true apex of his sport and after 17 years he finally achieved it. This is a global sport and at that moment, he was the best of the best.

He was asked about the experience of winning the World Cup and what he had done in the days and weeks leading up to the event that allowed him to win. I was quite taken by his answer. Without any thought, he laughed, shifted his head and glanced at the floor and then looked up toward the audience of about 50 people crammed in a tight warm room.

He said: “my father once told me that the rider gets to stand on the podium but that the true athletes are the individuals on the team that allowed him or her to be there.”He was referring to his horses, grooms, coaches, trainers, therapists etc., his team.

I don’t think his answer came from humbleness as he seems to be an extremely confident person. I think it came from his reflection as he looked back on his career. He told stories of the defeats that he had endured in a span of 17 years. He told a specific story about how he was the leader in a World Cup Championship Event when he was much younger. He described that he was so overwhelmed by the moment that he sat in the bathroom before the final event and cried with anxiousness – needless to say, he finished fourth.

His point was that there was nothing that he did differently in the days and weeks leading up to his winning the World Cup event. It was the culmination of 17 years of trying, testing, learning and getting better. It was the hundreds of people that he worked with, learned from and met along the way that allowed him to reach the position that he had wanted so badly.

When asked about what he looks forward to in the years ahead in his career, he laughed and said, “winning. That’s what I like most.” Even someone with this “win-at-all-cost”perspective understands the importance of the many people in their life that allowed them to make success happen!

Peter Aceto