The Olympics, love them or hate them, pack a ton of lessons into a very short time window. For that I am thankful, and yes even a fan. Winter or Summer, live or tape delayed, mainstream or obscure, I take in as much competition as possible and I come away a better person for it. Not better because of the sports, but better because of the life lessons. After only 5 days of competition, there have already been some great lessons to share.
Here are a couple nods and tips of the hat, or tuque as the hosts would say…
Bode Miller for reminding us that sometimes our best is just not good enough. Our best on a given day might be close, it might earn us a bronze, the separation between first and third might be an infinitely small margin, but in the end it is not enough. However, we should take pride in the work we did, the effort we gave. We should never not be happy with our best.
To Lindsay Vonn for showing us that champions play through the pain. Sometimes the joy of victory is truly worth the price of pain. Sometimes the pain is physical, but sometimes it is emotional or even financial. Champions drive on and rise to the occasion regardless of the pain.
To the South Korean Short Track team for the age-old lesson in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. When the team is set to sweep the medals in an event, there is no need to try to pass your teammate in the final corner – NONE. Share in the victory together – teammates winning matters – always.
A thank you to Team Canada for rising to the challenge of massive external expectations, and especially to Alexandre Bilodeau for a lesson in perspective. Being shut out in two previous games had brought a good deal of media hyped national expectations, but Alexandre Bilodeau’s win in moguls, though somewhat unexpected, was clearly a win for more than just one person, it was a win for Canada. More importantly, it was his comments about his motivation and his older borther that were an amazing lesson in perspectives. “Every morning, he wakes up and has all the right to complain, and he doesn’t complain” he said about his older brother Frederic who was born with cerebral palsy. That is perspective.
For the reinforcement in excellence, in the reminder that getting to the top is not the end of the journey, but the beginning. Being the best requires relentless focus, committment, and the internal drive to push yourself beyond your last gold medal performance. Thank you Shaun White for yet again going higher, spinning faster and flipping more than anyone ever has…your ability to “uncork” better tricks is the mark of a true champion. Not a one-off winner, but a long-term champion.
No Winter Olympic discussion would be complete without a mention of Lindsay Jacobellis – a gifted athlete and consistent winner in her sport. However, in the Winter Olympics world she has become the face of wasted opportunity and missed redemption. But it was her class and professionalism in the Small Final, the consolation race in Snowboardcross, that reminds us that positives can be drawn from losses just as they can from winning. In the crucible of loss comes maturity, humility, commitment, focus, sportsmanship and often future champions. The winner of the Small Final gains nothing, no medals, no press, no praise. What they do gain is another opportunity to remind us that win or lose, you always give it your all – always.
No question there will be more lessons in the coming days, and there are others we have already missed. But in the end there are lessons to be learned during these two weeks, just as there are in everyday life. But here, on a global stage, the lessons are stark and immediate, pointed and gripping, and even edited and spoon fed to us in the prime time broadcast. Take a few moments and soak it all in – it is time well spent.