What a Conversation with My 13 Year Old Self Taught me About Life.

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Ty, meet... Ty

The resemblance is stunning.

Not physically of course. But certainly in the ebs and flows of life.

Today, as I  enthusiastically begin the leadership journey in my business career  and the pursuit of competing on the Crossfit world stage, I’m reminded of myself as a young grade 9 "man-child", playing my 1st year of senior high school basketball - wide eyed and ready to take on the world.

Tyrell Mara grade 9 basketball leadership

I remember feeling incredibly nervous and afraid, but even more than that I was licking my lips at the opportunity I saw ahead - I wanted to be the best.

That's not quite right... I wanted to be the best, TODAY.

There were a lot of things I was eager to master.  Many of which I was doing for the first time. Thankfully I had a great coach, a strong team, and a core support network to surround myself with.

To my  initial disappointment becoming the best didn't come overnight. There were countless frustrations and road blocks that fell in my path. My resilience to continue was tested constantly. Fortunately I had the support to always keep me one step away from giving up.

This grade 9 boy wasn't experiencing a glamorous start to his basketball career.

I wasn’t a star player. I didn’t posses a lot of confidence. I wasn’t a team captain or appointed leader. An outsider would likely observe the latter years of my high school basketball career to be the most important. I captained teams to championships, won awards and honors, and had a self confidence rooted deep within my psyche.

But you would be wrong.

In hindsight it's clear it was those early years where I laid the foundation. The humble days overcoming frustrations, confusion, and my own self-doubt. I had to learn how to move forward one experience at a time.

The learning was invaluable...

- I learnt the big impact of doing the little things well.

- I learnt one of my strongest leadership skills at a young age was the ability to acknowledge and encourage others. This became a secret weapon to transcending age barriers (which my old soul has always rubbed up against).

- I learnt what it felt like to be slammed into obstacles, broken to pieces physically and emotionally, to be one decision away from giving everything up - only to get back up and make myself better and stronger.

- I learnt how to identify and excel in a small role and find opportunities to expand it at the same time.

- I learnt what it felt like in my gut to put my trust in the right leaders and mentors who would help me along that steep and treacherous path.

Fast Forward.

What is scary and exciting as I look at my life today, over 10 years later, is how parallel my world seems to that young 13 year boy.

Just as I knew I wanted to be one of the best basketball players in Canada, I know I want to be an influential leader in the business world. I want to be recognized on the world stage in the sport of Crossfit. Just like in basketball, I am starting at the bottom and know I have SO MUCH to learn.

I need to be patient and acknowledge the stepping stones between here and there.

And yet I immediately get caught looking forward to “getting there”, I'm so eager to arrive at the destination. As my mind gets lost in these thrilling dreams and goals I remind myself to be patient.

"Tyrell, patience is one of your biggest weaknesses - focus."

So again I listen to that 13 year old boy to help me lean into patience. Knowing how important those early experiences were in transforming that young boy into a man who went on to achieve great success.

It’s the early experiences where we have the opportunity to create the path that navigates us towards our dream.

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The tools, skills, attitude, and capacity needed to reach the summit don’t manifest when you get there...

They are acquired throughout the journey - in the peaks & valleys and twists in the road road that create your unique path.

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Starting from the bottom.

This lesson is an acknowledgement to those early experiences in any pursuit which are inevitably the most critically important. Despite wanting to climb as fast as possible, in this paradoxical state we must slow down and take it all in to effectively move forward.

The dreams you are searching for simply don’t exist without taking the baby steps first.

Those who don’t intentionally focus on where they are today, absorbing all of the critical learnings and humble building blocks won’t be prepared to step up and lean in when the bigger doors open.

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Ultimately, this is a reminder that although it never seems like it, where you are right now is the most important moment of your life.

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Can you smell the roses?

As I write this I clearly realize the notion of “getting there” or “arriving” is false in and of itself. Life is about enjoying the path we are on, not summiting the mountain. In reality, there is no summit. There is no ultimate arrival.

Checking in with my 13 year old self is a beautiful reminder of this. Between 13 and 16 some would say "I arrived" from a boy with a dream and a few supporters to one of the best high school basketball players in the Country. Others would say “I arrived” mentally and emotionally maturing into a leader who pushed for universal change and acceptance in our school system - all with a deep rooted confidence.

And yet over 10 years later I find myself right back at the ground floor asking some of the same fundamental questions. I have at times mistakenly identified this phase as hopeless and frustrating - feeling like forward progress is slow and fickle. But listening to the whispers of that little boy I understand this is a powerful and exciting chapter of my story, where learning and personal growth are most abundant.

The ideal path forward lies in my ability to live in each present day.

For those of us who are ambitious and always pushing for more you may likely identify with being on the ground floor at times in your life. The impatient feeling of wanting to move up as quickly as you can.

My encouragement and challenge to you is to loosen your grip on the urge to sprint forward - to summit the mountain. Instead, open yourself up to the learning, growth, and rich opportunities abundant in every day. In these times, the most counter-intuitive attitude will put you on the right path.

Slow down, let go, look up and enjoy the scenery, hold onto that deep confidence you own.

You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Tyrell Mara - basketball - crossfit canada west - leadership

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