Gold-medal formula for Cochrane business success

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, February 27, 2002

Canada's outstanding showing at the 2002 Winter Olympics sends an important message to Cochrane's business community.

Over coffee following Team Canada's 5–2 gold-medal win over Team USA in hockey Sunday, my neighbour Denis Champagne was helping me understand why our athletes and teams did so well in Salt Lake City.

"They refused to lose," the Cochrane baseball coach said.

"I always tell my players, 'The secret to winning is to refuse to lose.'"

Everyone at this level of competition aims to win, Denis told me. But aiming to win isn't good enough. It's those who refuse to lose that take the medals.

He reviewed Sunday's game with me. For the first two periods the U.S. and Canada fought a close game. In the third period, the U.S. started coming on really strong, and for a while it looked like they might overpower Canada.

But Canada was not about to be beaten.

"You could see it in their spirit," Denis said.

Denis knows about that spirit. He tells the players he coaches that when they're in the heat of competition, it's no longer pressure from the coach or the crowd that counts. It's team spirit.

"When they get into a situation where they're cheering themselves on, they play above their ability" – they refuse to lose.

That's what Denis saw happening in Sunday's game when Team Canada refused to be intimidated by a strong Team USA.

Denis, pitcher/first base with the Cochrane Erectors of the Bear League, has been inspiring ages 9/10 and 11/12 baseball players in Cochrane with his coaching philosophy for the past five years.

But Denis's philosophy for victory has value for more than sports. It is also a gold-medal formula for business success.

This Thursday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m. at the Frank Wills Memorial Hall, the Cochrane & District Chamber of Commerce will hold its Annual General Meeting.

Our community enjoys a rich diversity of businesses, including the delightful old-town shops that attract tourists, and the big-box retailers that make living in Cochrane so convenient.

Our chamber is a reminder that Cochrane businesses are, in a certain sense, all on the same team – Team Cochrane. Our biggest competitor is not each other, but the shopping malls of Calgary, which are more than happy to accept Cochrane money.

Cochrane businesses can choose to follow Denis's good advice. They can choose to participate actively and positively in the Chamber of Commerce. They can choose to cheer each other on and prosper beyond their wildest dreams.

Cochrane businesses can refuse to lose.

And for the economic well being of our community as a whole, we can all heed the motto of our Chamber of Commerce: "Keep your town in business by keeping your business in town."

* * * * *

Which brings us back to last week's column on palindromes and chiasmus. Chamber director Elsa Peterson brought to my attention that the motto of the Cochrane & District Chamber of Commerce is a really good example of chiasmus. Remember, chiasmus is the reversal in the order of words in parallel phrases in order to give a statement more impact.

While we're on the subject, I received this note from one of our newest e-mail coffee companions, Liz Antonio, who lives in central Alberta:

"I don't want to take anything away from John Kennedy," she writes, "but I think those famous words – "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country" – were actually made famous by Cicero more than 2000 years ago."

About long palindromes (words and numbers that read the same backward and forward), Heinz Unger of Cochrane writes:

"The longest palindrome I know in German is the compound noun, Reliefpfeiler, which means a column (Pfeiler) with reliefs on it (13 letters)."

Finally, many of you reined in my exuberance over last Wednesday's palindromic date, 20:02 20/02 2002. I had said, "Nothing like this will ever happen again."

Mea culpa. I had overlooked 9:12 p.m., 21 December 2112 – 21:12 21/12 2112.

© 2002 Warren Harbeck

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