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Compete Against Your Best Self, Not Others: Advice from An Olympian with Jason Dorland (Episode #129)

Our most important goals can pull us along into lives well-lived, but they can also be at the heart of our most devastating moments. In this episode, Dr. Lynda talks to Olympic Athlete Jason Dorland, about many fresh perspectives that we can all bring to circumstances that threaten to derail our hopes and dreams. Delightfully, many of these perspectives are born of a relationship with a very special dog named Ike.

Episode Highlights

About Our Guest:

Jason Dorland is an Olympian, father, coach, entrepreneur, and storyteller who dedicates his life to pursuing excellence with more gentleness, and helping others do the same. 

In a lifetime of working with athletes, he’s developed insights that all of us can apply in our own journeys to find success and happiness. 

Today’s conversation is filled with novel ways of thinking about fundamentals like friendship, family, forgiveness and determination. And many of his insights come to us through the lens of his latest book:  IKE: the dog who saved a human. 

IKE is a story full of ah-ha moments, laughter, and old soul wisdom. It’s all about qualities that most of us celebrate in others and want to find more of in ourselves: capacities like unconditional loyalty, gentleness, being truly present, and living with pure joy. (It’s also a book any animal lover can relate to—a great example of how we truly don’t deserve dogs!) 

More about Jason and Ike’s Story: 

Once the embodiment of an aggressive athlete, Jason used to identify himself according to the results of his competitions―winner or loser. The elite rower was raised with an “in-it-to-win-it” attitude and was trained to think of every competitor as an enemy. 

It took a devastating loss at the 1988 Olympic Games to shatter this destructive way of thinking.

Dorland retired from rowing and, as a way to cope, adopted a golden retriever puppy named Ike, who was destined to be a guide dog for the blind. While Dorland struggles to redefine himself and find a new purpose in his life, Ike takes on a new role. Removed from the guide dog program at nine months for health reasons, Ike becomes Jason’s own guide—his teacher. 

Through many adventures together, Dorland eventually discovered that love is not something you chase but something you give away, and the problem may actually be in the “chasing.”

When he retired from competition, became an elite rowing coach, and steward of his friend, Ike, Dorland knew he had to produce results but vowed to adopt a more process-based approach to competition than the one he had been taught. 

It was a radical shift that was not always welcomed by the sporting community, but the outcomes were nothing short of extraordinary. 

Dorland found that by creating an emotionally safe environment for his athletes, they felt free to fail and because of that, ultimately achieved success beyond their wildest dreams. 

“Feeling free to fail…” What happens when we add that to our recipe for success and happiness? 

Jason’s body of work is a beacon of light and hope that can illuminate the path through the setbacks and the leaps of progress.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Jason is sharing Life lessons through keynotes and workshops with his wife, business partner, and fellow Olympian, Robyn Meagher through their work at Your Mindset. (www.yourmindset.ca)
  • After a decade of offering their brand of holistic high performance coaching to professional teams, as well as corporate and educational organizations, they are now ready to offer it directly to you! Learn more about what it means to thrive at work and in life—coming soon! (www.yourheartspace.ca)
  • If you’re interested in learning more about Robyn’s counseling work please visit her site. (www.robynmeagher.com)

Show Notes

[00:00 – 04:10] OPENING

[04:11 – 10:54]

  • Dogs don’t chase much except sticks
  • Jason’s story about chasing your dreams
  • There is really no finish line in life
  • Looking back on his losing the Olympics as being the greatest gift of his life
  • In the moment you need your best self, ego gets in the way

[10:55 – 17:14]

  • Choosing to be an art student and taking in a seeing-eye dog
  • The story of raising Ike
  • Realizing that not everything has to make sense

[17:15 – 20:16] BREAK

[20:17 – 25:26 ]

  • In life there are two kinds of dogs – the dog dogs and the people dogs
  • Some of the most insecure people you are going to meet are the lead athletes
  • It was all about the finish line
  • The prize never brings what we think it will

[25:27 – 27:40]

  • Being in service to others
  • To be consumed in service
  • Being in the service of other people
  • Have a look at yourself and don’t blame other people

[27:41 – 36:10]

  • Just watching Ike is a lesson on how to live life
  • Having a line and standing up for yourself
  • Starting off with the idea of best intention
  • One of the beautiful things about turning 50 is you stop caring so much

[36:11 – 45:06]

  • Love and conditional relationships
  • We all could be running with our competitors, not against them

[45:07 – 51:18]

  • The athlete’s transition
  • You are not what you do
  • The truth makes humor funny

[51:19 – 54:34]

  • We cannot convince someone of their self-worth
  • Service is the number one motivator

[54:35 – ] CLOSING

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