September 29, 2015
The Right Place at the Right Time Happens a Lot More When You’re Out There Every Day
Cynthia Queano, the PMCQ president, opened the first event of the 2015-2016 season by welcoming everyone and kicked off by discussing last season’s events and its theme of “transformation”. She invited all the attendees to visit the PMCQ Facebook page and post a selfie on the page (@ http://www.facebook.com/myPMCQ). She revealed that the PMCQ’s theme for this season is “Raise the Bar”. She also mentioned that the PMCQ website has been completely revamped and that event registration is now available on the site, as well as videos from past speaker that provide quick take-away messages from their talks.
Martine Boily from Merck introduced the evening’s speaker, Sébastien Sasseville. He was introduced via a short video of his amazing journey, which gave some highlights of his amazing accomplishments. He ran across Canada to raise awareness about diabetes – a 7,200 kilometre journey – which involved him running 5 marathons a week for over 9 months. In addition to this, he also reached the summit of Mount Everest in 2008, completed the mythical Sahara Race in 2012 and has completed 6 Ironman races.
Sebastien took the stage and began by saying that, when we were kids, every idea was a great idea. When you’re a kid, there is never any thought about outcome, finish lines, summits, etc. The most important thing was just to have fun and experience something. That’s exactly how we learn things, whether it’s a good idea or not. He said that he was never good at sports as a kid. He was always the last kid picked for teams in school. When he started running, the first time he ran, he only completed about 250 metres. But, he said that everything that he’s done has started with a first step that was always so tiny that it felt insignificant, and the destination was always so big that it seemed impossible. But you can find energy within the obstacle and allow it to show you the way – it’s our survival instinct kicking in. For him, everything changed when he was diagnosis with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22. He started to exercise and that was a crucial turning point in his life. Type 1 diabetes wasn’t something he chose to have. It was an obstacle that was placed in his way.
Sebastien recounted the beginning of his cross-country run, which started on February 2, 2014. He started in St. John’s, Newfoundland and thought to himself that it probably wasn’t a good idea and that nothing good was going to come of this adventure. He said that the toughest part of the journey was crossing the start line. He pointed out that there was a parallel between our professional and personal lives, as there is a notion of commitment, or “throwing your pants over the fence”. You’re putting yourself in a position where you have to go get something, because you have no choice. He said that his goal, with all of his accomplishments, has always been to show people living with type 1 diabetes that there are no limitations to what one can do.
He learned that diabetes was the greatest thing that had happened to him. The real gift was not diabetes, but that he didn’t have a choice about having it, so he was forced to come up with structure and a plan. He had to succeed and come up with a solution. He likened this to any sort of change in our environment, be it regulatory issues, new laws, etc. – these are all things that we don’t choose, but can become great allies. Sebastien also pointed out that failure can, and will, occur, but it’s important to turn that into positive energy and learn from it.
Sebastien then spoke about climbing Mount Everest, saying that he always imagined the last step on the mountain, but came to realize that the most important step was the first one. He questioned how he was going to measure success on this adventure and said that the measures of success we choose are important, because they define how we reach the happiness that we’re all chasing. He realized during his run across Canada that the ways of measuring success change at different points in our lives. Our measures of success need to be adjusted over time. For example, he learned that everything he did when he wasn’t running were things that made him successful when he was running, such as massage, eating well and sleeping.
Sebastien regrouped, saying that what was really important about his various challenges was the meaning and what he and his team were building in terms of value – it was never just about one guy running. He said that he was in the right place at the right time and that that happens more often when you’re out there every day. He likened this to the best sales representatives – they’re out there every day, which results in better sales.
He continued by revealing that there are things that he hates about having type 1 diabetes, but he wouldn’t want to lose that vehicle of personal growth. He said, “The obstacle or resistance is never good or bad. The power is in the driver’s hand. If you can’t choose the vehicle, you can choose where to drive it.”
When reminiscing about his Everest climb, Sebastien said that the group he climbed with trained together for many years. It took years to build the plan and efficient communication and that’s how the team became strong. He emphasized that communication and sharing ideas is so important.
When talking again about his run across Canada, Sebastien said that he could sum up the run in one sentence – it’s how amazing how far we can go when we do a little bit every day. He said, “It’s never the size of our actions that are important. It’s the small actions that matter.”
He said that inspiration is a culture, not an action. It’s something that needs to be practiced every day. One can cultivate an “I can” feeling by cutting the bigger goal into smaller goals. By focusing on doing well today, it can be amazing how quickly and easily tomorrow happens. Success should never be the goal - it should be the consequence. We all have a bar that we set somewhere, but the bar can move as we evolve.
PMCQ 2015-2016 Educational Calendar