Normally I am not able to sit down long enough at the TV to spend time watching anything longer than an episode of Animal's Gone Wild, since I am a type A personality. However, I am an extremely competitive person so I find the bigger events like a championship game exciting enough to grab my attention. It is with that explanation that I want to discuss something that I observed at the 2010 Olympics.
I admire anyone who makes the type of sacrifices and commitment in order to be the best in the world at a particular sport. In fact, this year one athlete actually lost his life in his attempt to negotiate a tough luge course. So, I take a lot away from the stories of the athletes involved in the years of preparation, injuries, disappointments, and all that goes into the human interest stories behind each athlete. It seems like you and I can always take something away from the lives of these athletes and make some application to our own lives.
My dad was telling me that years ago there was coverage of the Olympics by a network who called it the ABC Wide World of Sports. He said they had this old black and white TV coverage showing samples of the winter Olympic event that showed a ski jumper coming down the huge ski jump and losing control before he even jumped off the ramp. The shot shows this man taking a terrible fall while going off of the jump and tumbling off the end of the ski jump into the fans on the side of the hill watching. The voice on the TV would say something like "The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat." This is definitely one time in sports when you see so much of that drama compacted into one week, over and over again. These athletes epitomize all of the things we've learned about visualizing, dreaming, over coming pain, commitment and doing whatever it takes to make it to the finish.
You can't read anything regarding personal development and not see the words about DREAMING and DESIRES and how important they are to achieving your goals in life and business. In fact this year they showed how one U.S. women's skier, Julia Mancuso, had actually drawn a picture of herself in the Olympics at age 4 and now here she was skiing for the gold medal. One women ice skater even took the ice for her competition a couple of days after her mother unexpectedly died. She went on to win the Bronze medal to win to pay tribute to her mother since they had shared that dream. She too, said she had imagined as a child standing on the podium holding her Olympic medal.
There are myriads of these human interest stories this year but one that really seemed to catch my attention was the Dutch speed skater named Sven Kramer. He was a national hero with the Dutch where speed skating is such a national sport. He was the favorite to win the 10,000 meter. He had taken the lead in his race and was well on his way to winning the Gold and setting an Olympic record in the process. The racers have to make lane changes in this event and as he was well ahead of the pack he was told by his coach to change lanes and as he followed his coaches direction, he committed a mistake that resulted in his immediate disqualification. He had done everything that was required of him and done it to the best of his ability. Something that was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity. But, somehow fate stepped in and dealt him and his coach a terrible blow. Obviously for him it was an unbelievable disappointment along with anger. For his coach, an unimaginable mistake that he will have to live with.
The athlete at first showed real disgust and even anger with his coach but throughout the recorded interviews that followed he took a higher road and admitted that humans can make mistakes and he had to move on. My thoughts gravitated towards events in my life when I have felt wronged or disappointed when I had done all that I could and due to circumstances beyond my control, things did not come out the way I dreamed of or intended.
Perhaps there are things in your own lives that have happened as well where someone in your own life was well-intentioned and maybe gave you some wrong advice or while trying to do what they they thought was the right thing for you and your development or career, turned out to be devastating to you.
Just like these athletes, you need to put it behind you, move on and not hold blame to anyone. You are in control of the outcome and even more important, you are in control of how it impacts you personally and what effect it has on your life. We can always find enjoyment or the thrill of victory but it shows what we are made of when we deal with the agony of defeat.