Lifelong Learning From Ten Time Olympian

Learning is a lifelong process.

The word evolves rapidly, lifelong learning means what applied yesterday may no longer apply today. At Iridia, we understand that we must continually invest in ourselves through learning.

Lifelong Learning

Canadian show jumping world champion and Olympic silver medalist, Ian Millar, has been nicknamed “Captain Canada” for his longevity and accomplishments in his sport.

In 2012, he competed in his 10th Olympic games – holding the record for the most Olympic appearances. Other accomplishments include receiving the Order of Canada, and being inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. In addition to these prestigious awards, he has won dozens of national and international competitions and is considered one of Canada’s most accomplished athletes.

Millar was 25 years old in his first Olympics in 1972. His amazing 40 year career proves that age is not a factor in personal and professional growth.

Think about how the world has changed over the last 40 years. Think about how sport and competition has changed. Imagine what it takes to remain competitive year after year for that length of time. Millar is an example of someone who believes learning happens for a lifetime.

As he prepared for each Olympic games and many national and international competitions, he was committed to learning how to improve himself as a rider, and his champion horse. Not only did he continue learning for himself, but as his career progressed he became a mentor to the younger athletes coming into the sport. He is deeply respected and admired as an athlete and a person by his teammates, his competitors, the media, and the equestrian world.

Ian Miller

Perhaps most famous for his winning career with his horse, Big Ben, the pair became Canadian icons. The relationship between a rider and his horse is intense, intimate, and powerful. When Big Ben had to retire in 1994 after 12 years of partnering with Millar, it would have been easy for him to hang it all up.

Training another horse to competition level is a tremendous amount of work and would take learning of a different kind, for both horse and rider. But Millar didn’t give up. He rode several horses to competition wins before pairing up with his current young horse, Star Power, who he says will be at peak performance level in another four years.

Millar’s patience, commitment, and passion allowed him to continue to do what he loves, in spite of setbacks and challenges.

Lifelong Learning – Continued Growth

In today’s work world it’s unlikely any of us will be at the same job for 40 years. In fact, most of us will likely have more than one career. How are we committing to learning so that we can become more skilled and experienced in order to offer our best to our employers or employees?

Iridia lives out this value by offering employees a generous training allowance and paid days off each year for training. We want our employees to know we value their continual growth in their professional and personal lives.

lifelong learning

If strategic, continuous learning isn’t part of your career plan, perhaps it’s time to make it one. Whether it’s formal education, seminars, conferences, keeping up to date on your industry or business in general, reading great books – continued learning will make you a better business owner, CEO, manager, or employee.

On the other side of learning, could consider where you could take the skills and experience you have gained, and mentor someone who is new in their career, job or industry.

After the Equestrian event at the 2012 Games, the question on everyone’s minds for Ian Millar was whether he’d be riding at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. He’ll be 69 years old. “Well, if Star Power is willing and ready, so am I!” said Millar. Star Power is still young and has a lot to learn in the next four years. My guess is, so does Millar – someone who truly demonstrates that lifelong learning is a process.

Canada’s Women’s Soccer Team Teaches us a Lesson About Teamwork

Teamwork leads to exceptional output

Employees at Iridia are not merely cogs in a larger machine. While we each have our roles and specific areas of responsibility, our company operates on the premise that we are a team that shares collectively in the wins and losses of the company (Iridia core value).


One of the most talked about events during the Games was the Canadian women’s soccer semi-final. Most commentators and spectators agreed that the Canadian women played the US team exceptionally well, but that some questionable refereeing that went against Canada led to their defeat.

After an emotional loss, the team was devastated, angry and distraught. They felt they had been robbed of a chance to go for gold because of unfair officiating.

In those first few devastating moments after the game, the media approached and some of the women, still reeling from the emotion and exertion of the game, said some things in anger and frustration that, perhaps, they shouldn’t have. The media jumped on that and the comments were spread around the world.

Talk of punitive measures from Olympic officials, including suspensions that could have significantly impacted the Bronze medal match, made this a dark day in the life of this team.

How do you get ready to compete again with the same level of intensity and passion you put forward in a game you feel you should have won? How do you deal with words you can’t get back? How do you cope with your name, your team’s name, being smeared by others? How do you rally back and find the motivation to play again in the face of what appears to be hopeless?

Canada women's soccer teamwork

I think most of us can relate on some level; we’ve said something in a weak moment we wish we could take back, lost a contract, sale, or client in a way that felt unfair, had someone say bad things about us, felt the frustration of a project or task that seemed hopeless.

The challenges of life are difficult enough when we’re facing them on our own, but when we face them as part of a team – where the group dynamics become a factor in recovering, they can be even more difficult.

Team members can get so lost in their own grief and way of coping, that they find it difficult to support one another. But therein lies the difference between a true team and one that just plays together.

The Canadian women did rally. They took responsibility for their actions, supported each other through their grief and ignored the negative media, choosing to gather support from their fans, families, and well wishers. They played with fierce intensity in a game where they were considered underdogs, and won a Bronze medal for Canada – the first Canadian soccer team in history to medal in the Games. They arrived in London with their eyes set on a medal.In spite of their setback, they accomplished that goal.

Canada Bronze Medal Soccer

The Canadian women’s soccer coach, John Herdman, said it best when asked about his team’s efforts. “They got kicked, they got up, they kicked back. What more could you have asked, and what more could you have done?

In the context of everyday life, the principles are the same. Respect for your team, pride in what you do, tenacity in the face of setbacks, and commitment to the goal provides the framework for winning in sport, work, and life.

It can’t be denied that in the case of the Canadian women’s soccer team, teamwork most definitely led to exceptional output. 

Going for Gold – Iridia’s Core Values


Iridia’s Core Values

I’m an unabashed Olympic addict. I love everything about the Olympics. The opening ceremonies – all the grandeur and creativity that represents the hosting nation – and I admit I get chills when the athletes enter the stadium proudly bearing their country’s flag.

Night after night I sit in front of my television, mesmerized by the talent, the strength and the endurance of the athletes running their races, competing in their events. It’s dramatic, exciting and mind-boggling as year after year, records are broken, proving the human body capable of more than we ever thought possible.

I love the stories and profiles on the athletes – learning about them as people gives us insight into their journeys and connects us with them in a powerful way so that we can’t help but cheer them on at the starting box. And who doesn’t have an internal sense of pride when one of our country’s finest pushes through their own barriers and ends up on the podium?

This world-stage event every two years is a magnificent gathering of the best of the best from all over the world; a bringing together of nations, a demonstration of teamwork, and an example of what can be accomplished with commitment, passion, and determination.

But what does this have to do with the average person going through everyday life. As I was reviewing Iridia’s core values this week, I realized that many of them align with what it takes for an athlete to compete on a world stage; to be extraordinary.

Two years ago we experienced “extraordinary” right here in our backyard as the world came to our house in February of 2010. I can say I’ve never sensed national pride like I did during those days.

Very few people came away from the 2010 Olympics without being touched by the experience in some way. But the games were extraordinary for reasons that went far beyond the schedules and the events and the medal ceremonies. They were extraordinary because they were ours! They were a demonstration of our culture, our community, and our heritage.

There was almost as much talk about the volunteers as there was about the athletes. There was a demonstration of compassion and integrity as we experienced and dealt with the tragic death of a young athlete in the first few days of competition – the worst nightmare of any Olympic games. We faced the adversity of uncooperative weather and demonstrated innovation in “making it work” so that the skiers could compete.

Core Values

Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting some blogs, based on Iridia’s core values, on what “Going for Gold” looks like in the real world – the world of every person who thinks they’re ordinary, but who has the potential to be extraordinary.