Whether we are sports fanatics or not, most of us love to watch the Olympics. We may have our favorite sports, but we may find ourselves watching sports we don’t find quite so interesting as well. For example, I love gymnastics, dressage, tennis and soccer during the summer Olympics as well as volleyball. Yet,I watch swimming and track and field. The other day I watched a bit of ping pong and archery. My mother, who only watches golf on TV–and doesn’t even play the game, was planning on watching some Olympic sports she didn’t understand at all and called my hubby to find out what they were about! And she spends hours watching the games as does my husband.
So what is it about the Olympics that we find so enticing, so enthralling, so utterly captivating? It’s not just the thrill of the game. It’s not just going for the gold. It’s reaching for the ring–and grasping it. In this case, it’s the Olympic ring. It is that gold medal. It’s seeing those athletes on the podium.
For most of us on some level we equate winning a medal to anything in our own lives we wish we could achieve. We see these athletes giving everything they have to achieving their goal. We live vicariously through their single-minded focus, determination, tenacity, commitment, hard work, and desire to achieve not the gold medal but excellence. The gold medal is just a symbol of having achieved that goal.
So when Jordyn Wieder (left) didn’t qualify for the all-around competition, this crushed her dreams of achieving that level of excellence–or proving to herself and the world that she could achieve it. Yet, her teammate, Aly Raisman (right) was given that chance. One cried in disappointment; one cried with joy. And as we watched the drama unfold before us, we felt for them and with them. (Photo credit NBC)
For some of us, watching these athletes inspires us to do our best at whatever we do. It gives us some renewed energy and excitement. It makes us realize what is possible if we try to realize our human potential. It makes us ask:
- Why am I not working harder?
- Why am I not trying harder?
- Why am I not doing what is necessary to achieve my goals?
- Why am I not realizing my dreams?
We get up and exercise. We write. We make sales calls. We do something to improve ourselves, to move forward…
For others, it brings up fear: “What if I fail? I could set out out to win the race–to get the gold–only to fail and disappoint myself and others.” This, of course, applies to life (work, relationships, fitness, career, etc.). Like swimmer Michael Phelps, the Olympian with the most medals, you could show up at the 2012 Olympics and simply not do as well as expected, or worse yet, you could fail totally. But, he didn’t; he won a medal…and he’ll win more. And because he tried, he won 17 medals (actually more by now).
If you allow fear to stop you from doing what you want to do, you’ll never achieve one single goal you want to achieve. You won’t achieve your highest potential either. So use the Olympics to actually get you off the couch and moving toward your goal–whatever it is!
Watch a bit of Olympics and marvel at the athletes and what they’ve accomplished. Then make a list of the goals you want to achieve. Write down three things you can do to achieve those goals. Then get out your calendar and block out time to begin actually moving toward those goals–no matter how scary that might feel.
Like Phelps, you will have to actually dive into the pool and start swimming if you want to become a swimmer (or whatever it is you want to do). You will have to get wet. You can’t just dip your toe in the pool. So be prepared to actually take the plunge. No dilly dallying around in the shallow end of the pool. That doesn’t work. Move through your fear by simply jumping into the deep end. If you end up in over your head, get help! Get a coach. Get a friend who knows more than you. Doggy paddle. Hang on to the edge. Do whatever it takes until you can swim to the other side. But start swimming toward your goal.
Eventually you will find yourself getting stronger, more courageous and more likely to become the person you want to be and to accomplish the things you want to accomplish. You’ll become like those Olympic athletes. You’ll develop the single-minded focus, determination, tenacity, commitment, hard work, and desire to achieve excellence. And you, too, can grasp the ring.
I often remind my children they to just a bit of action that feels uncomfortable–they have nothing to lose by taking a chance. As I heard author Jack Canfield once say about asking someone out on a date, “If you ask her out and she says ‘no,’ you aren’t any worse off than you were before.” The same can be said of anything in life. If you don’t reach for the ring, you’ll never grasp it. And you’ll still be in the same spot you were before.
So, go back to watching the Olympics, but don’t watch too long. As soon as you feel even vaguely inspired, get up and take some action.
(Bottom photo courtesy of Forbes.com)