Like millions around the world, I have found myself huddled in front of my television over the past few days watching the lightening fast coverage of the London Olympics. The 30th run of the Olympiad is already packed with intense competition, realized defeat and examples of overcoming hardships. Whether you’re rooting for the Dutch, Croatia, Brazil or the good ole’ U.S. of A, you have more than enough countries to support.
I am engrossed in the athletes’ personal stories the commentators share throughout the games. The amount of social and emotional tragedy some of these athletes have had to face in pursuit of Olympic gold always amazes me. Some have been separated from their families or have had to navigate through war-torn homelands. Others have had to endure physical pressures due to previous injuries that once threatened to end their careers. Whatever the journey, you can guarantee there’s been a significance price paid to compete.
As I watched some of the highlights today, I began jotting down principals that seemed universal and consistent to most athletes mentioned in the games. Here are a few things that may empower you as well:
- It all starts with a reality check: There is a difference between a hobby and a passion. In the beginning, these athletes had long and hard conversations with family and loved ones. Before they started dreaming of competing at such a high level and investing large amounts of money, they had to be sure there was commitment. Many things seem like an awesome idea, but you have to establish your future level of engagement.
- Move from interest to discipline: Here is where there’s a huge divide; in our society, we see there are more than enough opportunities to let discipline slide unaccounted for. Infomercials promise rock hard abs with only a minimum investment of time or by popping a small pill. Other advertisements declare you can get rich by watching a video or attending a seminar. All of these options fail simply because life requires disciplined interaction. You either pay the price or you live with limitations.
- Sacrifices are the toll on the way to greatness: What will what you want cost you? Answer this simple question and you’ve discovered your “secret.” In reality, being successful really isn’t much of a secret. If you’re willing to walk away from what you have and toward what want to possess, you will have it. Many athletes train in seclusion for years to win a chance to compete. What are you doing?
- Keep your focus on the next round: I watched the post play interview with one of Team USA’s swimmers and was shocked by her statement. She had just won but was already thinking about her training regiment for the 2016 Olympics. She hadn’t even made it to the London airport in route home, and she was planning her next event. That’s dedication.
I don’t know your favorite sport or Olympic event, but I am sure you’ve watched a few events lately. While enjoying all of the pageantry this international stage brings, make sure you don’t miss the deeper meaning. We are watching the end result of journeys that have cost some greatly. For some, their process prevented them from living a normal childhood. But the payoff is more than compensation. They stand with their goals accomplished and we celebrate. Remember, we too can accomplish great things in our lives.