Ten Time Olympian, Ian Millar, Teaches Us a Lesson about Life-Long Learning
Learning is a lifelong process.
Canadian show jumping world champion and Olympic silver medalist, Ian Millar, has been nicknamed “Captain Canada” for his longevity and accomplishments in his sport.
In 2012, he competed in his 10th Olympic games – holding the record for the most Olympic appearances. Other accomplishments include receiving the Order of Canada, and being inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. In addition to these prestigious awards, he has won dozens of national and international competitions and is considered one of Canada’s most accomplished athletes.
Millar was 25 years old in his first Olympics in 1972. His amazing 40 year career proves that age is not a factor in personal and professional growth.
Think about how the world has changed over the last 40 years. Think about how sport and competition has changed. Imagine what it takes to remain competitive year after year for that length of time. Millar is an example of someone who believes learning happens for a lifetime.
As he prepared for each Olympic games and many national and international competitions, he was committed to learning how to improve himself as a rider, and his champion horse. Not only did he continue learning for himself, but as his career progressed he became a mentor to the younger athletes coming into the sport. He is deeply respected and admired as an athlete and a person by his teammates, his competitors, the media, and the equestrian world.
Perhaps most famous for his winning career with his horse, Big Ben, the pair became Canadian icons. The relationship between a rider and his horse is intense, intimate, and powerful. When Big Ben had to retire in 1994 after 12 years of partnering with Millar, it would have been easy for him to hang it all up.
Training another horse to competition level is a tremendous amount of work and would take learning of a different kind, for both horse and rider. But Millar didn’t give up. He rode several horses to competition wins before pairing up with his current young horse, Star Power, who he says will be at peak performance level in another four years.
Millar’s patience, commitment, and passion allowed him to continue to do what he loves, in spite of setbacks and challenges.
In today’s work world it’s unlikely any of us will be at the same job for 40 years. In fact, most of us will likely have more than one career. How are we committing to learning so that we can become more skilled and experienced in order to offer our best to our employers or employees?
Global lives out this value by offering employees a generous training allowance and paid days off each year for training. We want our employees to know we value their continual growth in their professional and personal lives.
If strategic, continuous learning isn’t part of your career plan, perhaps it’s time to make it one. Whether it’s formal education, seminars, conferences, keeping up to date on your industry or business in general, reading great books – continued learning will make you a better business owner, CEO, manager, or employee.
On the other side of learning, could consider where you could take the skills and experience you have gained, and mentor someone who is new in their career, job or industry.
After the Equestrian event at the 2012 Games, the question on everyone’s minds for Ian Millar was whether he’d be riding at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. He’ll be 69 years old. “Well, if Star Power is willing and ready, so am I!” said Millar. Star Power is still young and has a lot to learn in the next four years. My guess is, so does Millar – someone who truly demonstrates that learning is a lifelong process.