Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Olympics

Soon the world will turn its attention to the activities of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. For a few weeks, tens of millions will watch Olympians competing to be the best in the world. Champions from over 95 countries will put aside national differences and politics in order to participate as peers focused on one thing -- being the absolute best they can be.

I like the Olympics. For one thing, the games are so unpredictable. One tiny flaw, one small misstep, and it's the difference between standing on the podium and watching from the stands. Upsets happen; unknowns beat popular favorites, and sometimes even the underdog takes the gold.

I like the Olympics for its strict code of athletic competition, which is only rarely violated. These athletes try to be honest in following the rules. A lifetime of training, discipline, conditioning, and practice is what the world sees -- not performances artificially enhanced by chemicals or medals obtained by the use of drugs.

I like to watch the Olympics, especially when the athletes mess up. Slip-ups are common in skating, skiing, and almost every winter event. The dignity, grace, and calmness displayed by these athletes after a tumble can be truly inspirational. For example, a figure skater will fall, recover, and complete her routine without any noticeable show of emotion. That is indeed impressive. Here is a person who has spent thousands of hours honing a complex and grueling routine. Now, at long last she's on stage -- front and center -- performing intricate movements before a global audience of millions and, because of one slip, one blunder, one blown move -- gone is the gold. Yet, she picks herself up and finishes her routine. That is a profile in courage I admire.

The next time I make a mistake, I can confidently say it won't be in front of millions of people, filmed for replay and exhaustive commentary, and discussed over and over again. There will be no microphones in front of me with reporters asking, "How does it feel to have let the medal get away?"

So, the next time I miss my step, I'll try to react like an Olympian: I'll pick myself up and press on, determined to finish what I've started. I'll pay the consequences for my mistake just like an Olympian does, but I won't dwell on it, I'll learn from it.

Is there any unfinished business you have to complete?

No comments :