Profile of Perseverance: Claire Carver-Dias

Profile of Perseverance: Claire Carver-Dias

I’m excited that Claire is sharing her thoughts with us today about perseverance. I really admire her career and accomplishments.  I thought it was fitting that I get to share her interview right before the London Olympics. I was recently in London and can't wait for the Olympic Games.  Claire is a positive role model for me.  You should check out her site after you finish reading her interview. Thank you, Claire, for taking part! I'm so glad I connected with you.

Claire Carver-Dias is an Olympic medallist in synchronized swimming, freelance writer and business coach (www.impactconsultinginc.com). She has a B.A. from the University of Toronto and a M.A. from McGill University. She is currently working on her PhD in English. Recently, Claire put the final touches on her debut novel, a literary thriller called "The Games" (www.thegamesnovel.com) which is now available for purchase.  Click here to find out more! Claire aspires to write more books and eat more baguettes (preferably while lounging in a Parisian cafe). She lives with her husband and three children in Oakville, Ontario.

Image (c) Claire Carver-Dias
Image (c) Claire Carver-Dias

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?

There was a point early on in my athletic career when a coach tracked me down and told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and get my act together. Well, kind of.

More of less, I was tucked away in the corner of some dank, stinky locker room after a horrendous defeat in the pool, rocking in fetal position and bawling. More accurately, I was sullen and complaining about the injustices of competing in a judged sport, and how another swimmer, who had ranked ahead of me, had been the recipient of the judges' benevolence . I was blinded by my disappointment and embarrassment. It took my coach all of two minutes to share with me the best advice I've ever received and leave me stunned and silenced. She rightly pointed out that I cared about my chosen sport (if I didn't, I would not have been so disappointed), and indicated that I had not focused my attention and energy on any one area of improvement. Truth be told, I had approached training each day as someone might approach taking a daily shower: get in, do what you need to do, step out, towel off, and proceed with your day. Bluntly, my coach said, "You need to set goals and pursue them." It was a strange and novel idea at the time. And also a tremendously empowering concept -- that I could dream about something I wanted to accomplish, or about the person I wanted to become, and I could set out a daily plan to achieve it. I left that locker room both humbled and hopeful about my future in the sport.

I apply this advice to ever aspect of my life: to writing my debut novel (www.thegamesnovel.com), to raising my kids, to finishing my PhD, to becoming the best executive coach I can be. Goals make ordinary life extremely exciting.

How important is mentorship in terms of your success?

Mentors are extremely important to me, and have been for the past 20 years of my life. I love picking the brains of people who have already been there and done that. In some cases, I may ultimately choose not to accept their advice, but they make great sounding boards. My mentors have helped me sort out issues, develop effective plans, and have chastened and encouraged when I needed it.

What has been the best moment in your life so far?

There was this wonderful and magical moment a few minutes after the birth of my first child when my husband and I looked at one another and laughed. It was laughter of joy, of relief, and of wonder at what had just occurred - that we had just become the parents of this beautiful and helpless little being. No amount of goal setting or planning can fully prepare you for that.

What tips would you have for living a healthy life?

Apply common sense and long-term considerations to your decision-making. Sometimes when we really want something we lose sight of the long-term implications of seeking that one thing. For example: I've never been a fad dieter, but I have several friends who, in the short-term pursuit of weight loss, go on deprivation-focused diets. These regimens are unsustainable, and frankly, not great for their bodies.

Often, they (we) lose sight of the big picture. Rather than think: I want this now and I'll do whatever it takes to get it...think: what are my long-term goals? What do I want my life and health to be like 10 years from now? How can I support that, reasonably, now? Who can help me with it?

How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?

I'm a flaming optimist, so I often see setbacks as helpful - they make me question my motives and recalibrate my planning - even if they are temporarily painful. Sometimes when I face significant roadblocks I remind myself that disappointments don't kill you. Then I remind myself that I've had setbacks in the past and I've overcome them (either by waiting it out, getting help, or figuring out how to rebound from it).

What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

It was the 1998 World Championships. Our team finished fourth. The sheer and utter disappointment (Canada had never previously finished out of the medals) was palpable. It was like Humiliation was another person in the room - following our team everywhere we went for the ensuing months. The newspapers covered the story; our families greeted us with looks of pity; we felt like we let Canada down. Forgive my positive twist, but in retrospect I think it was the best thing that could have happened. Following the loss, the national federation for my sport opted to centralize the National Team. Within 12 months we all moved to Toronto and started on our Olympic journey with renewed determination and vigour. We learned that we couldn't depend on Canada's historical success in the sport anymore. Other countries had upped the ante and we had to respond.

How do you deal with critics?

When my novel comes out this fall, I imagine it will receive its fair share of negative reviews. Critics exist. There's no sense in pretending otherwise. I'll do my best to glean some constructive feedback out of what they say and apply it to the writing of my next novel.

How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?

Having a strong social support network is extremely important. Our culture tends to deify the self-starter --the lone ranger who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps kind-of-thing, but the truth is, most successful people have a team. A good team. Who's on yours?

What advice would you give others about goal setting?

Do it. Seriously. Figure out what it is that you're aiming to achieve. Then set out a plan. Determine who you need to help you. Tell people. And go for it. Cut yourself some slack if you need to adjust the plan along the way.

What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?

We don't go through life alone. Learn how to ask for help. Learn how to offer help.

Thank you again Claire for taking part! You really are a remarkable person!

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!

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