What Did You Learn From The Olympics?
If you’re like me, you have been glued to the TV watching the Olympics these last two weeks. I always feel a letdown after the closing ceremony. I love the ice-skating, the alpine skiing, and the crazy snowboarding events. Now that it’s over I can finally get to bed at a reasonable hour!
It’s wonderful to see these young athletes pouring their heart and soul into their sport. They seem almost superhuman as they glide across the ice, fly down the mountain, or race across the finish line. They have spent years preparing for just a few moments of airtime, training, practicing, and enduring all kinds of hardships. They (and their families) have made huge sacrifices to compete at the highest level.
I always feel that the media makes too big a deal over who “podium’s” (I love how the Olympics create new language!) or “medal’s”. Bob Costas makes us feel like a Bronze medalist is a second-class citizen. But really, just making it to the Olympics, and representing your country on the world stage is a huge accomplishment for anyone.
Kids watching these games are inspired to work harder and longer at their sport. They fantasize about standing on this international stage, with the eyes of the world on them. It’s a heady dream. While only a select few make the grade, the most talented and the hardest working athletes, we are all inspired to reach a little bit higher than we did a few weeks ago.
But what can we mere mortals learn from these Olympians? Most of us, and our kids, are not going to become world-class athletes.
Here are my take aways…
- If you are interested in something, don’t give up just because you aren’t good at it. I have no physical talents. As a kid I was perpetually placed in right field, with everyone hoping that no one would hit the ball to me. I was always chosen last in pick-up games during recess. Yet as an adult, I became interested in Aikido, a martial art. Even though I had no talent in it, I enjoyed it, and didn’t give up. I had greater pride over earning my black belt in my late 50’s than I did when I received my Ph.D. at 26. It was much harder for me to earn that belt than my degree! (Success in school always came easily to me)
- “Time in” is more important than talent. I hear that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become adept at some skill. That’s almost 5 years of 40-hour weeks of work! Don’t expect to become skillful at anything quickly. You have to put in the time.
- Find a passion. These days I see so many kids without any significant hobbies or interests other than video games or the Internet. Help your children find a passion—a sport, dance, art, a musical interest—anything that they can did a deep hole in. All of our Olympians found a passion that nourished their soul.
- You can do anything you set your mind to do. This is the real lesson of the Olympics. It’s possible to do anything you fully commit yourself to doing. This is why many mere mortals train and run marathons. They learn that it is possible to do something that appears to be impossible. True, it might take them 5 hours to run 26.6 miles, but you should see their faces when they cross the finish line!
- It’s not about winning. There is no doubt that everyone enjoys winning! Competition can drive you to do better, work harder, and be more creative. But at the end of the day, it’s just about doing your best, not being the best.
What did you learn from the Olympics?