William Shakespeare immortalized the idea that “All the world’s a stage”. Today’s stage, though, has a higher view count than at any other point in history. To be on it & be acknowledged means performing well, really well. The question that more and more people are inclined to ask though is, “for whom?”
Open the 2018–2019 program brochure of the International Olympic Committee’s Young Changemaker + program and the photo you see on the cover gives a quick depiction of its contents. On it you’ll see a young man with confidence in his stature, and authority in his gaze, comfortable with a mic in hand. This was my first encounter with Eric Mitchell, quite literally, the “poster child” for the now IOC Young Leaders program. Later, I’d have the good fortune of working hand-in-hand with Eric in various capacities. In all of which, he fearlessly steps into the spotlight and ensures the people he’s addressing and the cause behind their gathering shine brighter too.
When you learn his background, you’ll understand why. Former Olympic Ski Jumper, IOC Young Leader Alumni & Mentor, Gates Foundation Goalkeeper, and IOC Commission Member, Eric leverages any stage to make him and his peers’ voices heard. From his time as a celebrated athlete to his commitment as an activist and champion for the social potential of sport to his role as a Senior Accountant at EY Stockholm, Eric is well-versed in performing with excellence.
When recounting his journey in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, representing his own country of Canada as the youngest male athlete on the team, he notes that his journey, his training, all of his energy was focused on himself. Ten years later and officially transitioned from competitive elite athletic performance, so too has his focus transitioned. He no longer sees performance as a self-led endeavor, but a means of making a difference locally and globally.
Today, Eric’s Olympic legacy lives on beyond competition; when he performs, here’s who he does it for:
For others (not to impress, but to empower)
The idea of “performing” for others might conjure up images of performing for self-aggrandizement. This is not the case with Eric. He takes advantage of opportunities to identify, encourage, and empower other young people as leaders. I mean, how often do you meet someone who has their own heuristic for identifying leaders? Eric does, and he uses it to help bring others onto the stage, equipping them to go forward and do likewise. Whether as a mentor for the IOC Young Leaders program or as a Regional Leader for the North American continent in Yunus Sports Hub’s Sport & Social Business community, Eric performs for fellow sports-enthusiasts and problem-solvers by leveraging his expertise, passion, and energy.
For the causes he believes in
Performing to help open opportunities for others is laudable enough, but Eric struts star power for another reason as well; for causes that resonate deeply with him, and for which he wants to advance in the world. Working with Eric as an Olympic Values Education mentor for the IOC Young Leaders program convinced me from the get-go that he takes every leadership role seriously. The show-stopping move for me was when, after the Winter Youth Olympic Games and the coinciding Climate Strike (in which Eric partook in addition to his duties as an IOC Commission member), Eric went out of his way to plan a Q&A session with a celebrated Climate Activist — and all for a group of Environment-focused young leaders outside of his mentee group.
In addition to environmental advocacy, Eric advocates for LGBQT rights and increased youth voice in decision making.
For a better future, through sports
There’s one other cause for which Eric performs like a champion: Sport’s role in shaping a better future. He makes his views apparent on this as a mentor for the IOC Young Leaders. On a new level of selfless and deep awareness of our world’s need for support today, he has dedicated his time and heart to empowering sports-enthusiasts from all over North America to take on leadership roles in defining the power of sports to help respond to the coronavirus pandemic, with Yunus Sports Hub’s COVID-19 Community Sports Response.
Follow his lead; jump into the community and embrace your ability to perform for something beyond yourself, towards a better life for others.