Conversations with...Patrick Chan

Rick Hansen recently got a chance to speak with world champion and Olympic silver medalist figure skater Patrick Chan on overcoming challenges, making a difference and trusting your instincts. Below: Rick and Patrick during The Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay. Credit: Twitter 

World champion and Olympic figure skater Patrick Chan knows what it takes to overcome challenges. From battling injuries, to winning medals, to staying mentally focused, the 23-year-old Ottawa native says that reaching his goals comes down to staying present and focused on the big picture.

Although Patrick’s figure skating career has reached great highs (most recently resulting in two silver medals at the Sochi Winter Olympics), his success has not come without challenges. Throughout his career, staying innovative has been integral to his success.

“I think if you want to break through and achieve great success, it’s important to do something that nobody else is doing,” he said.

“You know that saying, ‘if you do the same thing every day you will always get the same result?’ I think that’s true for everything. If you’re struggling, you need to change things up. You’ve got to do something different—go outside the boundaries and outside your comfort zone and then trust your instincts.”

Going outside personal boundaries is something Patrick advocates for, in sports and in life, but the road can’t be travelled alone. Even though men’s figure skating is often thought of as an individual sport, team spirit and a sense of collaboration is apparent in everything Patrick does.

He credits his coach Kathy Johnson, his parents, mentors and fellow Canadian teammates for making the Sochi Olympics the incredible experience it was. One of his favourite memories from the games was the team event medal ceremony.

“I’ve never felt so proud to be Canadian and to be part of such a great team. It’s so unreal to be on that stage and get something you’ve dreamed of getting around your neck your whole life, and to be there with all your best buds. I looked out at the crowd and at my parents and just took it all in. We worked so hard for that amazing moment.”

Above: Patrick poses with his Canadian figure skating teammates, including  Kaetlyn Osmon, Dylan Moscovitch, Scott Moir, Tessa Virtue, and Kevin Reynolds. Credit: Twitter 

That hard work is a testament to Patrick’s ability to stay positive, even when dealing with an injury, or a disappointment.

“You’re not human if you have no emotional reaction to falling short; but then I refocus on the big picture, stay present and look ahead to the future. There really is no point in dwelling on the past. It’s all perspective and how you look at things. It’s so easy to nitpick on the negatives and mistakes, so I make a conscious effort to always refocus on the positive,” he said.

Patrick’s story has inspired many to reach for their goals, overcome challenges and make a difference.

“To me a true difference maker is someone who thinks outside the box. Someone who doesn’t follow someone else’s lead, but makes their own path. I look at people who have helped me get to where I am and they are the most forward thinking innovative people in the industry. They don’t follow a book—they go by their instincts.”

Rick Hansen is founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, a charitable organization with a mission to create a world without barriers for the physically disabled. Join Rick on Twitter @RickHansenFdn and Facebook.

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