Lessons from the Rio Olympics

rio-1512644_640Millions of fans around the world are watching the Rio Summer Olympics. So many are preoccupied with economic hardship, families in flux or political unrest that the games in Brazil satisfy a yearning for distraction.

The Olympics always provide entertainment, drama and insight. But the broad demonstration of excellence we see in Rio de Janeiro goes far beyond winning and losing medals. If you want to derive more personal meaning, here are some practical tips as you map out your own strategy for success:

Cultivate passion. Each event represents a specific challenge the athletes have chosen to pursue. There’s a wide range from rhythmic gymnastics to javelin throwing, fencing to sailing, canoeing to boxing. Discover what brings you joy and makes you feel fully engaged. You’ll see creativity and excitement emerge as you follow your dreams.

Work hard. Excellence comes from practice. The training schedules of athletes remind us that accomplishments don’t come easy. Repetition is the handmaiden of success. Set long-term objectives and take incremental steps toward them. Give yourself credit as you move closer to your ultimate goals. Strive for your personal best – and remember, the most important competitor is yourself.

Expect to fail. When you do, pick yourself up and start over again. Every athlete who has made it into Olympic competition has suffered injury and disappointment along the way. But that has not been the end of their quest. They know they can learn a lot from failure. Treat your setbacks as a teaching tool. As you do, you’ll become much stronger and more resilient.

Be a good sport. Try to be a generous winner and a gracious loser by acknowledging the efforts of others in the contest with you. Think about teamwork and how you can pull together to accomplish your goals. Cooperation can be an important adjunct, even with the goal of outperforming others. Good sportsmanship is an integral part of any competition.

Embrace support. Individual athletes depend on an entourage of people to help them – coaches, trainers, family, friends and sponsors. Accept the encouragement. Function as a team and be ready to help sustain others when they need it. Athletes talk about the Olympic Village and see themselves as part of that community. Who’s a part of your community?

Explore other cultures. The symbol of five interlinking rings celebrates the unity of the games while honoring individual nations. Athletes pay tribute to each other by trading pins. Learn more about people who are different from you. This doesn’t necessarily mean traveling to exotic places – it could be a bus ride to another part of town. We are all enriched by sharing ideas and experiences.

History is always made at the Olympics. As we watch the athletes compete, their ambition and pride are palpable. Don’t remain a spectator – jump into the game of life and become a winner by loving what you do. Reward yourself when you reach significant goals and savor the power that comes from your achievements. You deserve it.

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