One Reason People Fail

I’ve spent the last few days in Calgary, Alberta, working with the great team from Oakcreek Golf and Turf. Calgary is a wonderful city in Western Canada that every year hosts an event known as the Calgary Stampede. Without going into great detail let’s just say that the Stampede is the mother of all rodeos.

It attracts visitors from all over the world. Young and old, they come to see not just the rodeo and the incredible Chuckwagon races but also to experience the “event” and the unique hospitality of the great people of Calgary.

I’ve been to three stampedes and even though I know little about horses and rodeos there is always much to marvel at. This year, however, was even more marvelous then before.

The city of Calgary very recently suffered devastating floods. During my visit the magnitude of the flooding was still very, very apparent. Just two weeks before my visit and the start of the 10 day Stampede event the stampede grounds were under water. Not a little water, a lot of water. Some of the water lines on nearby trees were nearly 6 feet high.

It would have been apparent to any average person that in it’s 101st year the tradition of the Calgary Stampede could not continue.

Clearly, the people of Calgary are anything but average. Led by Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who appears to be more public servant than politician, the people went to work preparing their city and the historic stampede grounds for the impending influx of visitors. While it will take years and millions of dollars to repair all the damage caused by the flood, the stampede grounds looked exactly as they had in past years.

It was impossible and yet there I was, sitting and standing exactly where I was a year ago as if nothing had happened.

Someone forgot to tell the Calgarians and their personable mayor that it was impossible. I heard stories about the effort it took to accomplish what they did. I heard about the hours and hours of work, and the lack of sleep required to accomplish what they did. Calgary has a philosophy of being “stronger together” and the strength they showed was nothing less than Herculean.

What’s happening in Calgary this week is testimony to the power of persistence and perseverance. It is testimony to the fact that ordinary people become extraordinary when they refuse to accept the fact that something “can’t” be done.

One reason why people fail is that they too quickly buy into the concept of “can’t” and they quit. Many people quit when success is right around the corner. If they could have just pushed themselves a little further success would have been theirs.

Most people, yes most, are capable of accomplishing much more than they ever thought possible. They just need to tell themselves nothing is truly impossible until every last person on earth agrees that it is.

Or, they could just act like they are from Calgary and decide they won’t be stopped come hell or high water!

63 thoughts on “One Reason People Fail

  1. Deb Dekker says:

    After experiencing the Grandstand show last night, honoring the heroes, I have never been so proud to be a Calgarian. The celebration of unity brought warm fuzzies to my heart and tears to my eyes. The feeling of love is definitely in the air…..

    • Well first it is an AMAZING show! When you consider it’s mostly young people performing it’s even more amazing.

      In a “normal” year it is a spectacular accomplishment to pull it off night after night, this year it’s nothing short of miraculous.

      I’m usually not a big fan of prideful displays but watching the tributes to your “heroes” was just fantastic. But then I started to think… If the people of Calgary really want to see a hero they need look no further than their mirror.

      You are truly stronger together!

      • My father is the Production Coordinator for the Young Canadians, the group that does the Grandstand Show.

        For three straight days after the floods, he wasn’t at home, but instead on the Stampede grounds, trying to salvage what they could for the show and making alternate plans and preparations for what they couldn’t. For 10 days after that, we saw him home for 3-6 hours a night for sleep before he was back up and to the grounds again.

        And they pulled it off. The hours and hours of work that my father, and so many others like him, put in are a testiment to the City and to Stampede employees.

        Above and beyond the incredible effort to restore the Grounds to a usable state, the Young Canadian performers (ranging in age from 5-18, not counting the special acts they contract as part of the show), wrote and produced a song called Hell or High Water. Like the black t-shirts, the funds raised from the sale of the single are being donated to the flood relief efforts.

        They are truly an amazing group of kids, and adults who work with them.

      • Well Peggy your father is a rock star! Those kids are amazing and the show was spectacular!

        I especially wondered about the show because the stage and lighting and all the props must have been underwater. I could easily imagine discussions where “the rodeo must go on” didn’t include the show after the Chucks but “on with the show” it was.

        What your father and his team have done is an accomplishment that will last a lifetime!

      • My father is the Production Coordinator for the Young Canadians, the group of 5-18 year olds that puts on the Grandstand show every year.

        I can testify to the incredible amount of work that he, and people like him, put into making sure the Stampede went on this year. Immediately after the flood, my family didn’t see him for 3 straight days – he was at the grounds, salvaging what could be saved for the Grandstand show, and assessing the damage to what couldn’t be.

        For 10 days after that, we were lucky to have him home for 3-6 hours a night to sleep as the work continued. With his background in the military, he wasn’t about to let a mere flood put a stop to what the kids had put so many hours of hard work into creating for this year!

        The Young Canadians also helped with the single, “Hell or High Water’, which was written and recorded in 48 hours, and the proceeds of which are being donated to the Flood Relief fund.

        My father’s hard work, and the hard work of so many other people, is a testiment to the city, and to the people themselves. It’s wonderful to see that being acknowledged!

  2. Just so powerful and uplifting. I hear that these are individuals but I think the power of the group coming together in a disaster takes us out of fear and isolation and devastation and makes everything possible. Crucial to have buddies to go through traumatic events. The bond formed during these horrific times lasts for many many years and many stories to be told.

  3. Debrah Galt says:

    Heard a Newscaster say ” We’ve been through 2 World War’s, and The Depression … not gonna let a flood stop us ” Ex – Calgarian

  4. Natasha B. says:

    Thank you for your kind words! As a born and bred Calgarian, my heart swells with pride when I think about the call and jump to action that took place 10 days prior to opening night. When the first volunteer event was organized, they hoped for 50, planned for 600, but ended up with close to 10,000 people eager to help rebuild our city. Many, many, many people (even those pesky Edmontonians!) and outside organizations/charities have really come through to help us show our best colours. Happy Stampedin!

    • You’re very welcome! Every time I think of Calgary I’ll think of the epitome of persistence and graciousness. Your beautiful city is just an incredible example of what happens when people work together!

      Congrats to you and every Calgarian who made the 101st Stampede the most special one yet!

  5. Books, Tea & Me says:

    Being a Calgarian myself, I am immensely proud of my city and amazed at what the hard work of our community has done. Go Calgary! πŸ™‚

  6. April Douglas says:

    Thank you so very much for the kind words towards us Calgarians. And to add more to the amazingness that is not only Calgary but to all the men and women from all over Alberta who so graciously came to help their fellow Albertans in their time of need. I would love to send a huge thank you to Alberta and fellow Canadians for being so amazing in this time of disaster πŸ™‚ the Stampede would not be a success without the amazing men, women, first responders, and all other emergency crews who worked tirelessly to get our city up and running when others were convinced that everything will be in shambles for years to come and that our amazing Stampede will not go on.

    Hell or High Water!

  7. Logan K. says:

    I’m glad you are enjoying your time here in Calgary. Thank you for writing a wonderful article about the our city. We won’t let water dampen our spirit! Just remember, up here, shout “Yahoo!” instead of “Yeehaw!”

  8. Ian Rambaran says:

    I work got The City of Calgary and am proud to be part of a monumental effort to keep the stampede going and to get our city running again!

  9. Mysty Nyckel says:

    OMG what a great post! You summed these past few weeks up incredulously. Almost brought a tear to my eye.. I whole-heartedly agree!

    – Proud Calgarian. Yahoo!!

  10. In my business it’s easy to find people who are willing to go “this far” for what they want, but it is infinitely more difficult to find that special breed willing to go just the extra bit higher than the flag at the top of the rope. Perseverance is nice but insanity is also doing the same thing and expecting a different results. Kudos to Calgary for going the bit beyond the bit further.

    • One of the most incredible things I heard about was the huge number of people who stepped up to help. It seemed that virtually everyone did something to help somebody.

      An amazing bunch of people!

  11. Jmack says:

    I lost my car and can’t get back into my apartment for a few months, but I won’t complain since other people lost everything and some their lives. There is no stopping the greatest outdoor show on earth.

    • I heard no complaining while I was there, I just heard and saw people like you who were personally affected yet still seeking to assist others.

      That’s what makes the whole stampede even more amazing!

  12. Carole Anne says:

    Awww Steve, thank you so much for your kind words….as a decades long volunteer for the Calgary Stampede I am so glad you came this year. Many of us were not able to do the lifting and shoveling required to ready our beautiful city, but were able to go shopping and make sandwiches, fruit, and “Timmies” available at all hours for the other workers….I have to say we did seem to share a lot of laughs as well as work…Rain threatened to dampen our parade…the saying was “Bring on the rain we are now used to a little water”.This will be one of the most celebrated Stampedes ever, celebrating resiliency and support, including support from other provinces, states, and other countries.

    • I can only imagine that the temptation to give up must have been huge at times and yet you and your fellow Calgarians didn’t.

      That’s what makes the 101st the most special stampede yet. I can’t imagine how this effort could ever be topped!

  13. Len says:

    I never doubted, I was in Brisbane in 2011 and witnessed the generosity and courage of flood victims and volunteers once before, I knew the power of people with compassion. Kudos Calgary from Queensland .

  14. Don says:

    Although true, I feel its only half the story. There are so many more stories I witnessed in the “Mission Possible” (Mission, being the community wiped off the map and ground zero of the flooding) as the clean up effort came to be known for all communities.

    The public call out from the city asking for “600 volunteers” to report to McMahon Stadium (the football stadium) for 10:00am the Monday following the flood. At 9:30, 3600 people had flooded through the gates anxious to volunteer. Rough estimates of 7000 people showed up by noon.

    Tim Horton’s franchises sent employees out to leave $25 gift cards on all first responders, volunteers, police, fire and ems vehicles. Lemonade stands popped up with little girls and boys dropping off donations at Red Cross centres. 50/50 raffles were held all over the city, and many of the winners donated their portion back to the Red Cross as well.

    Seeing random people take families, friends, and strangers into their homes so they didn’t need to stay in evacuation centres. 100,000 people evacuated, less than 1300 people in evacuation centres. Where else on earth would you see that? Even the old crotchety guy I work with had a stranger staying with him, ran into a young man at the grocery store who looked lost. He couldn’t get to his house. It really rebuilds your faith in humanity.

    The self organization was even more unbelievable. You drive to a community trying to help. I was told, oh go 2 blocks down to Steve’s house. You meet there, on his front lawn and he told you where people were and who was requesting help. Volunteers dropped off food, coffee, water. Business dropped off loaders, bobcats, trucks, and the numerous bags, tools, face masks, hip-waiters, fans needed for people to help. Almost every contractor pumped water, for free, from house because “it was the right thing to do.” No other reason than that.

    But what impressed me most is when aid was flooding toward Calgary from Edmonton and the army, our Mayor went on television and said to send most of the help to Canmore, Cochrane, and High River. Even when downtown was flooded, communities were wiped away, and our Saddledome (Flames hockey arena) was filled up to the 10th row with water, he was thinking of our neighbors.

    And as Calgary rebuilt, busing companies started sending buses full of volunteers from Calgary to High River (which to date is still partially underwater) in “Mission Possible 2”

    So we know $2,000,000,000 and counting and damaged happened, and yet the stampede went through, areas were salvaged. Come hell or high water, we are stronger together.

    • Thanks Dan for your comment. You greatly improved my post. There could be a movie made about it and books written. Just the handful of people I met ALL had amazing stories and it truly did seem as if everyone played a part in bringing Calgary back.

      You’re not done I know but there can be little doubt that when you are Calgary will be better than ever. As I’ve told numerous people, if a Calgarian wants to see a hero all they need to do is look in the mirror.

      On another note, too bad about the Saddledome, I hope they get it fixed so my Wild can come up there and flood it properly with a whole bunch of goals! πŸ™‚

  15. Sarah Broderick says:

    All you have written is so true. Calgary is a wonderful place and the people make it that way. The city is clean, welcoming, and hospitable. My friends had people staying with them who lost their home in the flood – they prepared for the basement to be flooded, but the flood waters rose up to the kitchen counter tops on the main floor! Calgarians help one another…. without reimbursement because it is “the right thing to do”. I’m a proud ex-Calgarian and I was in Calgary during Stampede days and witnessed the miraculous cleanup. I am oh-so-proud of the way the Calgarians and their neighboring communities worked to welcome the out-of-city attendees to the 101st ‘greatest show on earth’. It’s Cheyenne Frontier Days, the State Fair, the Denver Stock Show, World Class Show Jumping, a giant midway, a casino, Western Art Museum and great entertainment all rolled into one. Hoping the Saddledome is ready for the Flames when the hockey season begins. Go Calgary!

    • Thanks Sarah, there is no disputing it was an amazing accomplishment, one that goes well beyond just preparing for the Stampede.

      It shows what people can do when they truly work together to make something happen.

      Now… As to those Flames… looks the the floods put their fire out for now but if the floods hadn’t then my Wild would have taken care of them in the fall. πŸ™‚

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