If you're like me, much of your free time in February was spent glued to the TV. I know, I know; I'm always a proponent of getting off the couch and getting moving, but this year, I couldn't keep my eyes off of the Winter Olympics. Every event, every medal ceremony, every backstory inspired me as an athlete, teacher, and friend. Just because the Olympics have ended, doesn't mean they can't continue to influence our lives. I present to you my three major takeaway messages from this year's games:
1. Know Your Limits
2. It's All About The Details
3. Your Journey Helps Make You Who You Are
Know Your Limits
Olympians train for years (if not a lifetime) for the chance to win an Olympic medal. I'm sure we've all felt the pressure of working incredibly hard for a singular moment (although perhaps without the added stress of the entire world watching it on television!), but have you ever been a position where after all of the effort you put in, you had to back down? I found inspiration from Shawn White this year, an athlete with years of acclaim and awards under his belt. In Sochi, White made the announcement that he was pulling out of the slopestyle event to focus on the halfpipe.
Being able to withdraw with confidence is a skill many people don't possess. It can be hard to say "no," but the reciprocal sounds crazy: "Say yes all the time." That would be nearly impossible and likely reckless. Our bodies and minds have limits, and we have to honor them. White assessed his potential, limits, and goals and opted out of an event. Does that mean that all of his years of hard work disappeared? Absolutely not. It sounds counterintuitive, but knowing your limits offers you limitless potential because you know how to be your best self.
It's All About The Details
A recent article dissected how many Olympians stay motivated despite the grueling schedules of repetitive, exhausting exercises and training. Hours upon hours of the same routine and conditioning circuits have the potential to drive a person a little crazy, but what many Olympic athletes shared was how optimism, mindfulness, and dedication are key to success and to staying motivated. Of course, not everyone's an Olympian, so my interpretation/real life application of these general guidelines comes down to one word: acceptance. Acceptance of the little details that contribute to the bigger picture.
Hockey players, for example, drill tricks and plays until their heads are spinning as fast as the puck. These drills make them better players overall. It's important to love (or appreciate) all aspects of your training because if all you care about is the buzzer beating moment of the big game, you'll be out of balance in your approach. Distancing yourself from the big finish (in Sochi, a gold medal, of course) and loving the small details of a task or sport is important to enjoying the whole journey.
It's the acceptance of the grueling or repetitive tasks that help make you stronger in body and mind and sets you up to excel. Tap into the things you love about your skill or goal, and know that that's why you're doing it.
Your Journey Helps Make You Who You Are
I'll admit, the Proctor and Gamble ad campaign during the Olympics tugged at my heartstrings. The "Pick Them Back Up" ad, aired as part of their "Thank You Mom" campaign. If you've read Connect To Your One, you know that my my parents have strongly influenced my life journey. Besides yourself, it's likely that the people you have shared the most time with in your life growing up were your mom and dad. Every triumph, failure, or bump in the road as a kid was likely brought home and shared with your parents. This relationship is the foundation for your journey. Whether your home life was picture perfect or a little tumultuous, it doesn't matter. What I learned from the P&G campaign is that our journey begins from day one, and there is likely many people you aught to thank. Be it your mom, coach, brother, or best friend, there are undoubtedly people in your life that helped build you up when you were down or were there to cheer you in your moments of achievement. Say thank you.
It's hard to imagine the kind of emotional weight athletes feel leading up to and during the Olympics. The excitement, the stress, the endorphins, and the final release when it's all over are a roller coaster of a once in a lifetime journey. In our day to day lives, we experience ups and downs, successes and failures.
Think of your life as your own Olympics. What details do you pay most attention to that help you towards your goal? Who shares your journey with you? Do you know your personal limits? Sometimes, we are our own biggest competition, seeking to "win gold" at life, so take inspiration from the world class athletes we honored this winter and check in with yourself, stay dedicated, and accomplish your goals.