Go for the GOLD!
The 31st Summer Olympic Games have come to a close. I don’t know about you, but I am a big fan of the Olympic Games. I have always enjoyed watching both the summer and winter games. I believe the first one I really remember and paid attention to were the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY (OK – dating myself a bit here). This was the games that included the “Miracle on Ice” US men’s hockey team gold medal victory. That may have started my interest in the games – not sure – but it was something about the Olympics that made me look forward to the next time the games would roll around.
What are some things that we can learn from watching the games and how can that can translate to everyday life for those of us that are not Olympic athletes?
Being successful takes time and effort
The athletes that you see performing in the games make things look easy. I’m amazed at watching sports like gymnastics where you see athletes flying through air, twisting and flipping and landing perfectly. And in some cases, they are doing this while on a 4” wide balance beam. You see athletes like Michal Phelps who has amassed a record 28 Olympic swimming medals over the 5 games that he has completed in. Truly amazing to be able to compete and win at that level for all those years.
But what people don’t see is the hard work and sacrifice that is required to be able to accomplish these feats. The amount of time they dedicate on the track, in the gym or in the pool is amazing. And the sacrifices that they make to get to this level can be significant.
This is not only true for athletes, but for anyone that wants to be successful and perform at a high level in whatever endeavors they pursue. You see people who have achieved a certain level of success. What you don’t see are the long hours, sacrifices and dedication to get there (See 2 of our blog articles on hard work here and here). You may have heard about the 10,000 hour rule. That it takes 10,000 hours of “practice” to achieve mastery in a field. Whether that is true or not is a discussion for another time. Either way, there is effort and time required to become proficient and successful.
Pain is temporary………Gold is forever
Sports can be grueling, testing your physical and mental toughness. Athletes push themselves to the limit to get to the finish line. The pain they feel is nothing compared to the feeling of achieving their goals and winning an Olympic medal.
I have run a few mini-marathons in my day. Certainly not trying to compare myself to an Olympic athlete, but nonetheless, the experience of going through the training and having that goal in mind of getting to the finish line was rewarding. Those last few miles of each race were tough, but I did my best to push through and get to the end. The feeling of seeing the finish line, people cheering you on and finally crossing the line is something that I will always remember. And I did get a medal too (everyone gets a medal J) I can look at those medals as a reminder of what it took to get them and know that the journey to get them was worth it.
Life a can be challenging. Everyone goes through “stuff” (fell free to add your own four letter word here). Can you push through the pain to get to the other side? Can you see the finish line? That is a question that everyone needs to ask themselves. There will be hard times along the road, but we hope that we get to where we want to be, thru it all, and get our medal in the end.
When you fail………keep striving to reach your goal
One of things I enjoy most about the Olympics are the stories behind the athletes and their journey to get to the games. In particular, it’s the stories of athletes who have dedicated so much to get to the Olympics and have high expectations of getting on the medal stand, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t happen. They fail. You see the anguish and pain on their face and the realization that their dreams have been shattered and knowing that it will be another four years before they can even have a chance to try again. Yet they take their failure and disappointment and focus it on getting back to the games to try again. And then to see those athletes return and able to deliver and reach their goal of a medal in the Olympics is just great see. You can see the complete joy and relief and satisfaction that their hard work has paid off.
One story that comes to mind is Dan Jansen, a speed skater for the US. His first Olympics were the 1984 games as an 18 year old. He narrowly missed a bronze in the 500m and his Olympic career looked to be very promising for future games. Dan came to the 1988 winter games as a favorite in both the 500 and 1000m. Early in the morning on the day of the 500m he was informed that his sister had passed away after a battle with leukemia. After his mother urged him to compete in the 500m, Dan would fall in the first turn and not finish. He would also fall in the 1000m. Four years later in the 1992 games Dan would again come to the games as a favorite. He had been performing well in World Championships and setting records. The games would prove to be a disappointment, finishing 4th in the 500m and 26th in the 1000m. The next games would held in 1994 due to a change by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to allow for a winter or summer games to occur every two years. So this was Dan’s last chance to finally get the Olympic medal that he had been striving for all these years. During his first race, the 500m, he had a slight slip which caused him to touch the ice and, therefore, deny him a medal. It all came down to the 1000m. Dan got out to a world record pace through 600m. Despite a small slip during the race, Dan would finish the race with a world record time and secure the gold medal. Truly an amazing journey of accomplishment, disappointment, failure, determination, hard work, sacrifice and a will to succeed.
There are going to be times in your life that you may fail or get knocked down. It is what we do after that which will make a difference in our lives. Do you quit or do you continue towards your goal like Dan Jansen?
Whether you are an Olympic fan or not, I hope you can find some benefit from what I have gleaned from watching the games over the years. I hope you can take some of these points and go for your own personal GOLD!!
Bill Hoover – Design Manager
Gould Design, Inc.