I have been enthralled by the 2012 Olympics, staying up way too late and watching sports I rarely have an interest in, but that’s part of the appeal, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what the sport is, watching the best in the world compete for one of sport’s most prestigious awards is riveting, whether it’s gymnastics or soccer, water polo, basketball, fencing or dressage. As I watch the London Games, I feel like every event brings a new life lesson. Here are a few of my thoughts:
1. The athletes are inspiring – part 1. This one seems obvious to the point of triteness but I still think it bears repeating. The determination, discipline and commitment that it takes to make it to the Olympics are inspiring, and each athlete, regardless of the outcome, is successful simply by being there. As I watch them perform and hear their individual stories, I am awed anew each time. They inspire me to bring the same effort to my own career; to ask “how can I be the best staffing firm owner for my employees and clients?” I hope I can bring the same passion and purpose to each day and constantly challenge myself and my company to achieve more.
2. The athletes are inspiring – part 2. In addition to feats of athletic ability the Olympics showcases the remarkable human spirit. Athletes like Mo Farrah (10,000 meters), Jessica Ennis (heptathlon), Michael Phelps (swimming), Usain Bolt (100 and 200 meters) and many others entered these games under tremendous pressure; a bright spotlight, the hopes of their nation and the expectations of the world bearing down on them, and they performed incredibly, reveling in the pressure not cracking from it. Oscar Pistorius, dubbed “The Blade Runner,” made it to the games against seemingly overwhelming physical challenges and he’s not alone (Blade Runner on Well-Trodden Path). Almost every athlete has overcome hardship at some level and the stories of their ability and efforts to adapt after injury and find solutions to every set back are awesome and a testament to the human ability to recover and move forward from almost anything. When I am faced with disappointment or feeling frustrated, I want to remember the example of these remarkable athletes.
3. Money is not the most important thing – part 1. It’s a hallmark of the Olympic Games – athletes playing for the love of the sport and for their country. Now granted, many Olympic athletes are in line to make money through lucrative sponsorships after winning medals but many are not. Some have a future career as a coach or trainer but many do not. They train in relative obscurity and perform for the love of their sport, not fame and fortune. Another persuasive example – multimillionaire athletes risking their careers to be an Olympian. Numerous professional athletes are competing, and the possibility of injury is always present. Yet they risk a potential serious, even career ending injury for the chance to represent their country and the special honor of being an Olympian. Serena Williams just won $1 million dollars at Wimbledon in July, but was more visibly moved as she discussed the difference in playing for her country. Britain’s Andy Murray won against Roger Federer for gold, something he couldn’t do last month when money and professional ranking were on the table. Money simply isn’t always the best motivation or primary goal.
4. Money is not the most important thing – part 2. It isn’t just the athletes. From the opening ceremonies, through all the competitions, to the closing this Sunday night, thousands and thousands of British have volunteered to help make these Games a success. The whole nation deserves a round of applause; what they have achieved is substantial. And it happens with each and every Olympics – the host country outdoes itself, putting on the latest “most beautiful, successful games,” usually refuting the rumors that all was not well. Now I’m not suggesting that money is unnecessary, or that we shouldn’t want to be paid for the work we do, or that everything at the Olympics is donated, it’s not. But having goals that inspire and motivate us in ways that money does not is a good thing. I’m going to focus on cultivating this; finding goals and inspiration for myself and hopefully providing them for others.
These are just a few of things the Olympics have me thinking about. In the interest of space and time, I have not discussed what seems to be rampant, and strangely fascinating, corruption in boxing, nor have I spent nearly enough time expressing my admiration for Great Britain and the brilliant games they are hosting. But I think I’ve touched on what’s impressed me most for now. What have you enjoyed most about the Olympics?
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