“All I need is a really great story” I remember exactly where I was when I uttered these words. It was 1999 and I was pursuing my Ph.D. in sport & exercise psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. I was with my colleague Pat and we were attending a speaking event associated with the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship, The Tournament of Hearts. The speaking event was held in the hockey arena, that at the time could seat about 4000 people, and it was a packed house. Daniel Eugene ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger, was the speaker we had come to hear. His story, the story of using his determination to overcome all odds and play football for Notre Dame University, was depicted in the 1993 film “Rudy” by TriStar Pictures (starred Sean Astin). I came to the event wanting to be inspired and had hoped to learn more about his outlook on personal excellence and achievement. He had done nearly the impossible and I was a huge fan of his movie. To say I was disappointed was a gross understatement. The hour of time was filled by cliché inspirational messages. I said to Pat, “We could give this talk – we know all this stuff. All I need is a really great story…”
I remember why I thought it was important to have a great story. It was to make money using my degree. A respected colleague in the field told me that there was a very high chance that I would not be able to make a living in the field of sport psychology. I needed a story. If I had a story that consisted of something that was valued by society, I thought that I would have an easier time securing clients and work. I didn’t have my own Olympic athletic achievement story, so I sought out to obtain an academic position. I completed my Ph.D. and then secured a tenure-track University position. I went on to achieve tenure and promotion within academia. During that time I also secured contracts to consult with national sport teams. I can now say that I’ve worked with Olympic medalists and professional athletes. I have a story …
How ‘great’ my story is should not be judged by the jobs or clients I’ve worked with, nor by what others’ think is ‘great’. After nearly 20 years of working and building my story, I’ve learned that my story is ‘great’ because I chose to risk failure and seek out opportunities to build personal excellence. My story is ‘great’ because I believe it is. Only I know how much I’ve learned about myself in the process. Only I know how much that I’ve transformed and grown as a person because I pursued my own version of personal excellence.
I am in interested in your story. What (GREAT) story are you in pursuit of? Leave a comment letting me know what you are seeking to achieve.