Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Desire to be the Best

Last week, 30 year old Dylan Armstrong from Kamloops, B.C. won silver in shot put at the world track and field championship in South Korea. Four years ago, Armstrong finished fourth, missing a chance for a medal by less than one centimeter.

____ That’s what his disappointment looked like for the medal-hopeful. So small, yet so incredibly huge.

But this year, more determined than ever, Armstrong sat down with his coach as he set this year’s goal: to be better than anyone in the world.

          "It's always motivation to be that close,” states Armstrong. “There's nothing that I could have done better, I put everything on the line. I prepared, I had a Canadian record, it just played out that I got fourth and lost by a centimetre," he said. "I'm going to do whatever I can not to let it happen again." – CBC Sports

What motivates Dylan Armstrong to put in countless hours to be the best? What drives him to continue to work for four more years after losing by a distance smaller than his pinky finger?

     Certainly not money… Canadian Olympic hopefuls are not living the high-life by any means!
     Is it the thrill of the win?
     Or the inner satisfaction that comes when a personal goal has been reached?

Armstrong has set the highest possible goal in the sporting world - to be the best in the world. Undoubtedly, he sacrifices much as he strives to reach his ultimate goal.

He certainly doesn’t sit still for long in his quest for the top. Following his win, Armstrong was already looking ahead: “I won’t take time off. I have to train tomorrow, and the objective is a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.” (Globe and Mail)

Like Armstrong, we, as educators, are dedicated. We spend countless hours, both in and out of the school, to provide quality learning opportunities to the many students who pass through our classrooms. We believe in the same ideals as Armstrong: perseverance, commitment, “heart”. Although there are no podiums, shiny medals, or thunderous applause, we know that we make a difference in students’ lives. And that’s enough.

As teachers, we are also goal-setters. Our goals are directly influenced by our motivation to improve teaching methods and classroom practices.

So this fall, as we prepare to develop our professional goals, let’s use Dylan Armstrong’s personal quest to help each of us reach for the top.

• What is your goal for the upcoming year?
• What motivates you to be a better teacher?
• How will you strive to be the best you can be this school year?
• What will you need to do to reach that goal?

For more information on motivation, check out Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. For a summary of his ideas, watch a quick Youtube video called Drive.

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