Olympian Chandra Crawford's Self-Discovery Lessons on the Power of Inspirational Role Models

Olympian Chandra Crawford's Self-Discovery Lessons on the Power of Inspirational Role Models

happy new year

Happy New Year! For many of us, January marks the beginning of new goals that we set for ourselves. The start of the new calendar year also marks the countdown for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games happening this summer. Therefore, I thought I would set the year off on the right track for all of us by showcasing a mentor of mine, Chandra Crawford, who has excelled in achieving her goals as a Gold-Medal Canadian Olympian and Founder of the organization, “Fast and Female.” I’m excited that today Chandra is sharing her insights to help us all #fuelpersistence in our personal and professional goals. Chandra is a positive role model, who I am honoured to feature on Arianna’s Random Thoughts. With this interview, my hope is that Chandra will empower us all with some practical strategies for achieving our dreams.

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For those who don’t know her, Chandra Crawford is a music-loving mountain girl, born and raised in Canmore, Alberta. In 2005 she founded "Fast and Female," an organization dedicated to Empowerment Through Sport that reaches 2000 girls annually throughout North America.

In 2006, Chandra won Olympic Gold for Canada in cross-country skiing. She captured many hearts throughout the country when she belted out our national anthem from the top step of the podium in Turin, Italy.

In March 2014, Chandra retired from ski racing after three Olympics and 13 years of international ski racing with the Canadian National Team. Presently, she is working as an analyst for National Bank Financial and will graduate from the University of Calgary executive MBA program in the spring of 2016.

Her main interests beyond her MBA studies and “Fast and Female” consist of doing the following activities with friends and family: yoga, camping, dancing, reading, languages, eating seafood, concerts, and any kind of adventure in the mountains with her husband Jared and their dog, Stella.

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

"Want to" beats "Have to" every time. My sport psychologist, Cal Botterill, taught me to focus on the enjoyment and choice to do what I'm doing; this relieves the pressure feeling of having to perform.

How important is mentorship in terms of your success?

Critical! Sara Renner and Beckie Scott paved the way for me, carried me along, inspired and believed in me! They were extremely accessible and extremely helpful. Just by being their amazing selves, they changed my life forever.

How did you turn the idea for “Fast and Female” into a reality?

It all started in November of 2005. I put a notice on a ski website that we were going to have an event called Fast and Female, lined up some sponsors like Silverstar for the skiing, got my roommate to design a t-shirt, and got a sponsorship for the hot chocolate. My teammates and I put together the event, and voila! “Fast and Female” had begun!

What tips would you have for living a healthy life?

Make it social! Setting up an exercise date with a friend really gets me out the door. That, and having a dog! People with dogs get fitter faster than some people on nutrition plans. You can't look at that doggie face and tell it you're not going out for a walk.

What advice would you give others about goal setting?

Process goals are the most important. Daily goals, hourly goals. Breaking a big goal down and focusing on what you can control are all very important aspects of goal-setting that athletes tend to learn. Result goals aren't that useful when you're actually getting close to going for it. Every moment demands full attention!

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

I'm learning so much from others, but I do appreciate the things I've learned about detaching from my thoughts and observing them. The mind is an insane thing, and it's made my life immeasurably better to be able to observe its chaos and try to be conscious about whether I get drawn in or not. Eckhart Tolle’s books are pretty awesome.

Cross-country skier Chandra Crawford of Canmore, Alta. celebrates her gold medal win in the women's sprint in Pragelato Plan, Italy on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006.(CP PHOTO/COC/Jonathan Hayward)
Cross-country skier Chandra Crawford of Canmore, Alta. celebrates her gold medal win in the women's sprint in Pragelato Plan, Italy on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006.(CP PHOTO/COC/Jonathan Hayward)

Thanks so much, Chandra, for sharing your insights with all of us and for being a driving force in empowering us to become the best we can be! How you deal with the pressures of sport and business gives us a model for how to overcome big and small obstacles – to make personal goals achievable and enjoyable!

As we set our New Year goals, it is essential that we ALL remember this record-worthy goal-setting practice: “Breaking a big goal down and focusing on what you can control are all very important aspects of goal-setting that athletes tend to learn.” In addition to practising the technical skills, we all need to practice mental training to achieve our goals. Practice makes perfect. Repetition is key. Instead of having one big goal, we have to break it down into smaller goals that will help #fuelpersistence along our personal and professional journeys.

In the spirit of collaboration and the Olympic Spirit, we can all support each other on our personal journeys. Thank you all for reading and for your presence at this beach retreat! May Chandra’s insights empower you to fulfill your personal and professional goals! You rock! 

Did you learn something special from reading about Chandra’s professional journey as an athlete and founder of an organization? What is your record-worthy practice? Feel free to share in the Comments section below.  We can all learn from hearing your stories and advice!

Chandra would love to hear from you on Facebook, LinkedIn or @chandracrawford on twitter.

As well, if you know of someone who could benefit from this interview, please pass it forward to #fuelpersistence for someone else’s journey!

See you at the beach!

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