How did sport prepare me for a career in peacekeeping? Before joining the UN, I was a long track speed skater, training in the Calgary Olympic Oval. I had the privilege of skating alongside some of Canada’s greatest winter sports athletes. Leading into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, though I did not qualify for the Vancouver team, my thousands of hours of physical and mental training had a profound impact on everything that came after.
In hindsight, what I gained from sport, and how it translated into my professional life, surpasses any disappointment at never becoming an Olympian.
Sport teaches us how to perform in fluid environments. Sport makes us focus on what we can control, even as the variables around us multiply, for better or for worse. Prioritizing a good night’s sleep, nutrition, and cultivating a positive mindset, for example , are all things that we can control, regardless of the challenges surrounding all of us. Adapting my personal routine in a way that best enabled me to “perform” brought great personal reassurance. Sport helped me be prepared, to the extent possible, for the unpredictable.