How A Glass Half Full Mindset Can Send You To The Olympics
- Rachel Sovka
Olympic rower Eric Woelfl calls himself a positively-minded guy, and if you talk with him for any amount of time you’ll hear him spout inspirational messages like they’re going out of style. This of course, is the mentality that many Olympians and high performance athletes exhibit to achieve their goals, but Eric takes this thinking further into all areas of his life, even after his Olympic days.
Eric says he always sees the glass half full, but not because it’s easy, rather, he thrives off the challenge of adversity.
“Being a full time athlete is difficult, but representing your country is always an honour,” Eric says with characteristic passion about his years wearing the Canadian flag.
“You have to look adversity in the face and say ‘I’m not going to let that bother me’,
and focus on what’s important; getting closer to your goal,” he adds, “it’s all about being closer to your goals today than you were yesterday.”
Spontaneous motivational speeches such as these are part of Eric’s everyday conversation and the tenacious attitude that took him to multiple world championships on the Canadian national rowing team from 2010 to 2016, including the 2016 Olympics and two Pan American Games where he won gold in 2015.
In fact, it is Eric’s outstanding determination that got him into rowing to begin with.
“My mother was a high school librarian,” Eric explains, “and while I was in school I saw kids running up and down the halls doing pushups and planks and I remember saying ‘I can run faster and do better than that’”.
So one day, when then 15-year-old Charlotte Brown challenged him to do better like he claimed he could, Eric went straight to the rowing coach to give it a shot.
“And I stuck with it,” Eric says, “I stuck with it because I love a challenge!”
His pure love for challenges may have been his initial inspiration, but Eric wasn’t unaffected by success either, “I’m intrinsically motivated by accomplishing a personal challenge, and also extrinsically motivated by winning,” he says.
“My teammates and I worked hard to get where we got in rowing and a gold medal feels pretty special,” Eric admits, “I don’t want to sound like I’m pumping my chest, I just hope to inspire others with my success.”
Eric says this mindset has evolved since standing on the podium, now he challenges himself to work on his character so he can walk away proudly from any result.
Today he’s focused on creating great results at the Royal Bank of Canada where he discovered FANFIT, and where he’s worked since joining the RBC Olympians program in 2015 to plan for life after sport. Eric got his investment licensing designation in 2016 and accepted an advisor position shortly thereafter.
Ever the optimist, Eric addressed the psychological challenges of ending his Olympic career with opportunity.
Going from training three sessions a day six days a week for seven years to working inside a bank was understandably a real change of pace for him.
“It was difficult of course, but everything I learned from my athletic experience actually gave me the confidence to leverage the skill-set I gained in other capacities,” he says.
He speaks highly of RBC and their support, and likens his new role to the teamwork and leadership required of an Olympian. He believes studying humanities in post-secondary helped him improve client interactions he has everyday at the bank.
“I try to help make each person better than the day before,” he says, “I want to make a difference for someone whether that’s in the bank as an advisor or on the water as a coach.”
Eric says he wants to make that difference for anyone to achieve their olympic aspirations, raise a family, buy a home or finance an education. It’s his mission to inspire and instill his optimism and dedication in everyone around him.
“Whatever I’m facing, I make it my full-time job,” Eric says, “When I’m an athlete, when I’m studying, and now my career at RBC.”
Back in the familiar surroundings of a team setting, he continues to ask himself how he can be at his best.
“I’m working on time management in my work, and leadership in my family,” Eric says, as focused as ever.
Family has always been important to him, he credits much of his success to their support and the support of his alma mater Brock University where he went on to guest coach.
Eric’s proudest moment at the Pan Am Games was being able to share his success with everyone from his childhood, back at home in St. Catherines, Ontario, the Canadian Mecca of rowing.
“I’m a firm believer in ‘finish what you start’,” Eric says, “my father instilled that in me.”
That’s why he’s so grateful that what started in high school as a way to prove young Charlotte Brown wrong, ended up taking him all the way to Pan Am Gold, the Olympics, and into the hearts and minds of those he aims to inspire everyday.