Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This blog is inspired by the following quote:

“Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to you a year ago”
- Anonymous

You know when you read something and it just hits you like a ton of bricks? The second I saw this quote, it deeply rooted itself inside of my mind and heart. This is truly a profound way to approach life and I couldn’t wait to share it on this blog.

I am a firm believer in continuous development. I feel that a key ingredient to a fulfilling and satisfied life is to always strive for personal growth and improvement. I’m also from the camp that believes that our own individual potential should calibrate our measuring tool for this growth and improvement.

Our world often encourages us to compare ourselves to other people. Messages of “Look at how rich they are! Look at how beautiful they are! Look how smart they are! Look at how big their house is! Look at how ripped their abs are!” It surrounds us everywhere we turn. If you watch television, read magazines, surf the Internet or walk outside in any urban area, it’s nearly impossible to avoid this noise. Media and Marketing are constantly yelling at us with images and slogans geared towards our insecurities. “You don’t have enough of ____________”, “You’re not ___________ enough”, “You should be more of _____________”, “If you could just _____________, then you’ll be happy”. It’s hard not to look around and feel a little inadequate. Comparing ourselves to others is almost forced upon us in today’s day and age.

I’m happy to reveal that there is another choice. Just like the quote says, instead of comparing ourselves to others, why not compare yourself to who you were a year ago. You are the only one who can gage your sense of self-satisfaction.

Take a moment right now to reflect back on who you were a year ago. What were your goals? What were you embarking on? What were your fears and hesitations? What were you looking forward to? What type of physical condition were you in? What impact did you want to make in your business and community? What kind of partner did you want to be? Was there anything you wanted to change about your situation? What did you want to be more of?

Now, take a moment to see where you are now. How far did you come? Are you proud of the progress you’ve made or did you come up short of your hopes and expectations? What did you do that was great and what could have been done better?

So much can transpire over the course of a year. During this period of time, life can be like an exhilarating roller coaster ride with several dramatic twists and turns. Reflecting back on who you were and where you wanted to be a year ago can really be an eye opener. Maybe you’ve met your goals, maybe you’ve exceeded them or perhaps you came up short. Regardless of where you are, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect back and ask yourself “why”. If you are exactly where you wanted to be: why? If you are beyond where you wanted to be: why? If you didn’t quite get there: why? Take a moment to reflect and celebrate.

To conclude this blog, I will end with a simple request: please stop comparing yourselves to others. Just stop. It’s no good for you and it’s most likely going to leave you feeling like crap. Other people aren’t you and they never will be. Instead, start comparing yourself to that best version of you. It’s in your complete control to become the best version of you possible. Define what that looks like. Don’t let anyone or anything tell you who that person is. Imagine how much more you can learn. Imagine how many new activities you can try. Imagine how many new challenges you can conquer and how many more lives you can impact. Now take that vision and start applying yourself. In a year’s time, take a moment to reflect and ask yourself why you are where you are. And then celebrate. And then repeat.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Power of a Compliment

When was the last time you sincerely told someone that they were awesome just because? If you’re like me, you probably think about it often, but don’t always actually take the time to do it. Well, I hope this blog inspires you to reach for the phone and make a few calls to commend those around you.

A compliment or an acknowledgment of someone’s effort is a powerful tool to build relationships and inject positive energy into the universe.

I know that I, for one, do not do it enough. Often times I am living inside of my own head, thinking about my own list of things that have to get accomplished. I get so focused on my needs that I sometimes forget to recognize the hard work of those around me.

It takes a team of people to make any dream a reality. We are constantly relying on others to help elevate us and this is the way life was meant to be. This is why everyone has a different personality and different strengths. The world was designed for us to work together! We would never make any progress if it weren’t for a giant team surrounding us.

As an athlete, I had my coach, club, teammates, National and Provincial Federations, parents, friends, sponsors and countless others who were putting in a daily effort to help me pursue my Olympic dream. I said “thank you” often, but I didn’t say it enough.

Now retired from sport and embarking into the realm of entrepreneurship by opening my own gymnastics facility, I am noticing the same amount (if not more) of ‘behind the scenes’ players who are contributing to the success of my new venture. There are lawyers, realtors, investors, bankers, friends, family, employees, insurance brokers, graphic designers, web developers, print companies, merchandisers, federations, associations, contractors, interior designers, advisors, board members, city planners, property managers, accountants, bookkeepers, IT experts, etc, etc, etc. that are all making huge efforts to help give this project legs. 

 The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in this process is the power of a compliment. It is critical to show appreciation and to acknowledge the significance of those around you. Taking two minutes to recognize when someone has done a great job or has gone out of their way to help you is vital to success. Not only does it make them feel great to hear positive feedback, it makes you feel great too. Complimenting others on their admirable behaviour also reinforces that you recognize their effort. This, in turn, makes them more willing to go to bat for you.

Now, I’m not talking about a generic “thanks”. I’m talking about a thoughtful, genuine and sincere acknowledgment of how much you truly appreciate having them as a part of your team. Think of how they’ve made you feel. Think of what exactly it was that they did that made you feel honoured. Think of how their efforts are positively impacting your success and let them know the details. I encourage you to take it to the next level and make the call or write the note with true sincerity behind it.

My gymnastics coach used to always say that water is way better than fertilizer. He would always make a point of filling me up with positive reinforcement right before a big meet. He would continually remind me of how proud he was of my dedication. He would always reinforce that we were ready to perform. He knew that taking the 5 minutes to let me know that my hard work was noticed would give me the freedom to rise to my greatest level. And it always did.

People love to be acknowledged for their extraordinary skills and talents. People love to hear that they are rock stars at what they do. So, instead of being stuck in your own mind, take a few minutes out of today and make a couple of calls to tell those around you that they are awesome. I guarantee it will make you feel awesome too. 

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you literally forget to breathe?

When things are getting crazy, taking a moment away to focus on your breath is essential. It may often seem like it’s the last thing you actually have time to do, but a mini-break for a few deep breaths can make a huge difference in your sense of well-being.

Here’s why:
  • A few deep breaths can relax your body and release tension. I don’t know about you, but my jaw clenches really tight when I’m stressed!
  • A few deep breaths can bring calm to your mind. It’s amazing how being away from your inbox for a few short minutes can help ease your worries.
  • A few deep breaths can give you clarity and new solutions. Changing your geography can do wonders for inspiring new ideas and de-cluttering the brain.
  • A few deep breaths can make you feel a sense of control. You suddenly become aware of the fact that you ARE indeed the one breathing in and out. You don’t have to rely on anyone else for this!
  • A few deep breaths can remind you that, at the end of the day, breath brings you life. You would literally die without it…
I write this today because I have been having a particularly high paced past couple of weeks. I, as I’m sure you can relate, have been bombarded with emails, phone calls and a list of things to do that seems to have two new additions each time I cross something off. I’ve been going non-stop, darting back and forth and I haven’t been taking a break. Why? Because there’s a little voice inside that tells me there’s too much to do!  It says: 
“How in the world could you take 10 minutes out to focus on your breathing”?

Well, last night I hit a wall. My ability to be focused was completely lost. I was responding to 10 different emails all at once. My thoughts were ping ponging through my mind (and outloud) and I was annoying myself (and my girlfriend, Kristin, too). Every creative bone in my body had magically disappeared. I just knew that I needed to give myself a time out to breathe, but I couldn’t be disciplined enough with myself to create the space to actually do it.

This is when I decided to pull out my journal and try a new “breathing” technique. I started by writing the words: Breathe in. When I wrote, I took a giant full inhale the entire time. Next I wrote the words: Breathe out. The second the pen hit the paper, I began an exhale that didn’t stop until the period was complete at the end. I repeated this exercise of writing the words, “Breathe in. Breathe out” until two entire journal pages were penned with the reminder.

I’ll admit, just like in my meditation practices, I went on a few super random tangents inside my own mind. I started to tell myself stories as the ink flowed, but each time I went off into never-never-land, I quickly brought my focus back to the paper and the pen.

It was rewarding to see the progress and to feel lost within the words. It was fulfilling to complete a line or page and to feel a refreshing sense of accomplishment from something so darn simple. It was an exercise that took just 10 minutes, but it left me feeling more relaxed and attentive than when I started.  

I highly recommend that the next time you’re drowning in the sea of ‘overwhelmed’, pull out a piece of paper and a pen and try this exercise. It may be the little escape your body and mind are craving. 


If you liked this, I suggest you head over to for some more inspiration!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A playground workout!

Re-motivating yourself after accomplishing a goal

I have always struggled with re-motivating myself after accomplishing a goal. I tend to immerse myself in the process of getting there and then the second it’s over I am left feeling the blues of not knowing what comes next. The little voice of “should” gets really loud inside my mind and eventually the guilt starts settling in. I beat myself up that I have fallen off course. I often think, “I should really go for a run”, but I just can’t seem to muster up the motivation to put on my shoes and get out the door. The reason is just not there.   

I remember being a gymnast and always feeling that sense of momentum and fire in the weeks and months leading up to a big competition. A sense of purpose and a plethora of reasons to push beyond my comfort zone were evident each morning I got up. Blinders were on and I had a force field of motivation surrounding me. Nothing feels better than being physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually balanced and inline.   

But all of these good feelings would come to a roaring halt literally the day after the competition was done. Whether it was a World Championships, Olympic Games or even the Provincial Championships, I would go through a period of feeling emptiness and lost inside. I would ask myself “what comes next”?   

I experienced a particularly hard emotional fall after the 2008 Olympic Games. The pressure was so high and the focus was so intense. I had broken both of my legs just 11 months before and I had fully immersed myself in the process of coming back. There was no doubt in my mind that I had done everything I could to be the best I was capable of being, yet that complete sense of commitment and single minded focus made me feel so out of control when it was all over. Where was I to put my attention? What were my days to filled with? What would be my reason to get up in the morning? Just as I had experienced on many occasions before, when the competition was over, something felt eerily missing.   

I’ve come to realize that I am someone who loves the chase. I don’t like to bask in the glory of accomplishment; I would rather have something new to work towards. But there is always that awkward place in the middle where you switch gears from the “chasing” phase to the uncomfortable “not knowing what the next mountain peak looks like” phase. For someone like myself, it’s a very destructive place to be. In fact, having completed my first triathlon a little while back and not knowing exactly what comes next, I am stuck in this middle place as I write.   

A question that I ask myself every time I am immersed in this lonely and vulnerable spot is “why do I always end up here”? 

Can you relate?:)   

We know it’s coming. It ALWAYS comes. Why is it that we are surprised when the sad and unmotivated version of ourselves comes out to play?   

On numerous occasions, I have promised myself that this time will be different. But it NEVER is! 

So what does one do to get out of the funk?   

Here’s my plan:   
I am going to wake up tomorrow, eat breakfast and then put on my shoes and leash up my dogs. I am going to have a little voice inside my head tell me that I don’t really have a reason to run. It’s going to be loud and it’s going to tell me that I am without a goal. My race is over, remember?   

But then I am going to muster up the courage to tell the voice that my new goal will only come to me when I am running! Ah-hah! And then I am going to run. And run. And run. And run. And run. I am going to let my mind free fall with all the possibilities of what that “next” thing may be. I am not going to decide on what exactly it is tomorrow, but I am going to get excited about my options. And then I am going to write them down. I am going to reach out to my friends and see if anyone wants to take on a new challenge with me.   

Although I’m an “expert” blogger for, I am definitely a work in progress when it comes to re-motivating myself after accomplishing a goal. There are two things I do know for sure, though. Firstly, regardless of what my new goal will be, I will go through a series of low emotions after I’ve accomplished it. Secondly, the only way to start the process of figuring out what that next goal may be is to lace up and get my body moving. The new goal is not going to fall out of the sky, but the more active I am, the more I participate in my life and immerse myself in something I love (like running), the closer I will come to figuring it out.   

Perhaps the best way to re-motivate oneself after accomplishing a goal is to just shut up, lace up and get on with it. I’ll let you know how it works out. 

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Calgary Herald: Shewfelt realizing a dream by launching his own gymnastics centre

Johnson: Shewfelt realizing a dream by launching his own gymnastics centre


Local Olympic gold medallist has grand plans for 11,000 square foot space in southeast Calgary


Johnson: Shewfelt realizing a dream by launching his own gymnastics centre

Olympic gold medallist Kyle Shewfelt is joined by “future gymnasts”, the children of friends and family, as he shows off what will be the gymnasium of his new centre, Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics, on Wednesday.

Photograph by: Ted Rhodes , Calgary Herald

The original idea was actually hatched in the soft, Grecian afterglow of Athens.
“I remember getting back from the Olympics,” Kyle Shewfelt is remembering, “and writing a sticky note to myself.
“It just popped into my head, you know? How cool it would be. I wrote: I want to open a gymnastics centre.
“And now” — he motions around the barren reception area of his new endeavour on 118th Ave., SE — “here we are.”
Nine years on.
Workmen start arriving Thursday to rip out floors, knock down walls, pull down ceilings and begin transforming 11,000 square feet of industrial space into what will, by the end of October, be the site of Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics.
A place that caters to the grassroots of the sport.
There are, explains the 2004 Olympic gold medallist on floor, already plenty of quality high-level gymnastics clubs and facilities in this city.
His aim is to fill different needs. A gym for the new, the curious, the fitness-conscious.
“For us,” Shewfelt enthuses, “it’s about creating that really fun, friendly, welcoming environment. I think of myself an ambassador for the sport. In Calgary, in Canada and around the world. That’s my legacy. To put back. To give back.
“My role is to get as many people involved as possible. This isn’t about me. It’s about community.
“There’s such a small segment that can actually reach the high-performance level of gymnastics. You need a very specific body type. A very specific focus. And you also need this innate desire.
“So here, yes, I do think we will find ‘the one.’ That special athlete who can go on, compete for, and win, a gold medal. And I bet with the cross-training options we’re planning, we’ll help produce Olympians in other sports, too. Snowboarders. Aerial skiers. You name it.
“But on the same page we’re going to have thousands that improve their physical literacy, have a great time, who just love playing and moving. For the sheer joy of it. I think that’s something that’s missing in today’s education.”
His intent is to stay involved in motivational speaking and continue his role as TV colour commentator on major gymnastics events, but obviously the enormity of this venture will be eating up an awful lot of his time.
Shewfelt coyly won’t divulge a total dollar figure for the startup of such an enterprise (“It’s a BIG number” is a much as he’ll commit to). But with 10 or so investors, a staff of 15-20 and all the energy and effervescence that only Kyle Shewfelt can bring to anything, there are high hopes for success.
“I had some savings, too,” he laughs, “So let’s say I’m . . . fully invested. Sometimes I do wake up at 2:30 a.m. and think ‘Oh, my God . . .’ ”
Those entrepreneurial courses he enrolled in at Mount Royal will certainly come in handy now.
“Hey, I love to be the one responsible for whether something succeeds or whether it fails. And this has given me a great sense of purpose.
“There’s an interesting threshold that everyone crosses. You stand on the edge of the diving board and then all of a sudden you dive, you commit, or you scramble back to the safety of the pool deck. That happened for me last September. I just decided I was going to figure it out, find investors, make great strategic partnerships with equipment suppliers and find people who can help this enterprise succeed.
“I dove.”
Once fully on board, Shewfelt built an equipment design of essential items, including two in-ground trampoline areas, room for a foam pit and full floor exercise space, balance beams, etc., and went in search of the ideal facility to house his project.
After inspecting 20 or so other buildings, he walked in to the one that now awaits the arrival of the construction crews to re-design, re-model and reimagine 11,000 square feet into Kyle Shewfelt’s idea of a dream gym.
The aim is for an October soft launch with drop-in programs to give people a sneak peek at what’s on offer. Eight-week registered programs, hopes the man with his name on the sign, will begin sometime around the 27th.
“We’re going to base our success on people’s desire to come back week after week, and their desire to tell others about our space. It might start slower but I think it’s going to explode.”
All of nine years later, long removed from the soft Grecian glow of Athens, Kyle Shewfelt is making good on a spur-of-the-moment, at-the-time formless idea that began with a little sticky note-to-self.
“It’s really evolved since then,’’ he agrees, with a note of wistful disbelief. “There are so many things that go with this . . . leases, lawyers, accountants, payroll. But I’m enjoying the learning.
“I’m doing a lot of visualization about what this can be and that’s really been the driving force for me. I picture the gym here full. I see it. I did that as an athlete, too. I don’t know how many times I’d shut my eyes and imagine myself on the podium. And I got there.
“I need to have a focal point. That brings out the best in me. One thing I’ve learned about myself in this process, and in the process of my life, in becoming an athlete: When I want something bad enough, I figure out a way to make it work.”
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him

Got the keys for KSG and temporary signs are up!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics Festival Farewell…for now...

Dear friends,

It is with great difficulty that I must inform you that the Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics Festival (KSGF) is on hiatus for the foreseeable future... 
As you may or may not know, I am opening my own gymnastics facility in South Calgary this Fall called Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics. The University of Calgary Gymnastics Centre feels, quite understandably, that this presents a conflict of interest as they were the host club of KSGF. I have been respectfully asked by The U of C Administration, UnoCalGym Parents Association and the U of C Gymnastics Centre coaching team to step away from their annual event and I accept those wishes. 
When I agreed to help build the Festival, it was never with the benefit of just one club in mind. For me, it was always about the bigger picture. My vision was to help create an event that provided a platform for us all to share in a celebration of gymnastics. It was my hope that the Festival could continue on in partnership with the U of C as host club and beneficiary despite my new venture, but unfortunately this is just not able to happen. 
Shortly after my Olympic dream came true in Athens, I realized that the value in the accomplishment would best be found by using it as a platform to give back. It’s my privilege and purpose to serve my community. For me, this was at the root of the Festival. I agreed to lend my name, time and energy to the U of C’s annual gymnastics event because I saw its potential to make an impact.
I am so very proud of what the Festival became in just 3 short years. The event gave thousands of participants a space where they could show off their hard work and have some fun. It raised more than $15,000 for Right To Play. It redefined what an invitational gymnastics competition in Canada could be. And there were hundreds of incredible people behind the scenes who helped it get to that point...
Thank you to the sponsors and media partners. Your support truly brought the event to a higher level.
Thank you to Right To Play. It was a pleasure to be aligned with an organization that cares so much.
Thank you to all of the volunteers, especially the meet directors and team leads. Your dedication of time and energy was inspiring. Without you, the event could not have happened. 
Thank you to the U of C, UnoCalGym Parents Association and U of C Gymnastics coaching team. I appreciate you giving me a stage to share my passion for gymnastics. 
Most importantly, Thank You to the supporters, athletes, coaches and judges. Thank you for choosing to come to the KSGF. Thank you for embracing the concept.  Thank you for bringing your best.
It is with a very heavy heart that I say farewell for now. Who knows what the future holds – I envision the KSGF taking on a new life somehow, somewhere, sometime. When that happens, I would love for you all to join once again. 
In the meantime, I look forward to staying connected. As a gymnastics family, let’s continue to collaborate and showcase our great sport. I encourage you to support the U of C’s new annual gymnastics event as they move forward. I know I’ll be there cheering on our great athletes.  
Thanks for the memories. KSGF Rocked!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A poem about swimming...

It all started in January when I needed a new goal 
I was a bit lost, feeling out of control 
I decided I wanted a challenge that was unfamiliar 
Because something that was easy just wouldn’t be fair.   

I jumped in to the pool on the very first day 
I swam 25 metres and flailed my arms the whole way 
I’m surprised the pool had water left when I was done 
I swallowed so much of it. Man, that wasn’t fun.   

I walked away from the pool that day and told my sweetie that I HATED swimming 
I was convinced that this was an activity that I would never be winning 
I hummed and hawed – do I continue because I can grow and expand? 
Or do I quit because life’s too short to spend it doing things you can’t stand?   

I made a choice. I was going to see it through. 
A part of my heart felt it would never come true 
Me – being able to swim for a full 1500 metres? 
In open water none the less. Jeepers Kreepers.   

I showed up each day, put on my goggles and cap 
Some days felt awesome while other felt like crap 
I asked for advice, took lessons and listened 
Focused on my stroke as my speedo glistened.   

Months and months passed by and I could finally breathe
Through the side of my mouth, oh what a relief! 
My stroke became smoother and my arse felt less heavy 
Was I actually getting the hang of this? Time for a bevvy??   

I stood on the start line at Wasa Twenty Thirteen 
Feeling scared to death, but proud as a Mexican jumping bean 
I had struggled and questioned, loathed and hated 
Now I stood in a wet suit, heart pounding as I waited   

The gun went off and the crowd rushed in to the water 
I let them go like a patient little otter. 
I didn’t want to get a boot in the face 
I wanted to survive, that was my goal for this race   

Stroke, Stroke, Stoke, Breathe 
Stroke, Stroke, Breathe 
Stroke, Breathe 
Stroke, Stroke, Stroke, Breathe 

Slow and steady, I began to make ground 
Under the water, you could barely hear a sound 
All I could hear was the voice in my head 
And it was saying, “6 months ago, you thought you’d be dead.”   

But here I was, swim swim swimming away 
I wasn’t dying, in fact I was pretty okay 
At 850 meters into the race I did a heart check and a smile came rushing across my face   

I thought back to that cold day in January when I thought about giving up 
And here I was, in my first triathlon race, raising the roof and sayin’ “What’s up?!” 
I became immersed in the moment and cheeky with pride. 
This was me, swimming along, and enjoying the ride.   

As I came closer to the beach, marking the end of the swim and time for transition 
A part of me was sad because I kind of liked being in this position 
I had committed and conquered and nothing feels better 
Well, maybe at Christmas when your grandma gives you a sweater ;)   

The moral of the story goes something like this: 
Anything is possible if at first you don’t dismiss 
As Jim Cuddy sings, “You’ve got to Try. Try. Try. Try.” 
Be open minded. Allow time before you ask Why?   

Enlist the help of others and give it your best shot. 
Show up each day and give it everything you’ve got. 
Learning something new is awkward as heck. 
You’re a fool if you believe you won’t be a wreck.   

But attitude and approach are simply a choice: 
Be open to learning and listen to the good voice.


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