The Olympics are here, that exciting time every two (four) years when I joyfully begin to sound like an NBC broadcast as the “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” bursts from my lips every five second. While I don’t necessarily binge-watch the Olympics or follow the individual details of as many athletes as possible, I do get caught up in the emotions of it all, of athletes placing their all on the line, of the radiant excitement of success or the heartbreaking disappointment of loss, the amazement of the world coming together to celebrate an event which was birthed in antiquity and then revived in the modern era. Americans may celebrate the Super Bowl and Europeans the World Cup, but the entire world celebrates the Olympics.
Success in the Olympics (and even making it to the Olympics, for that matter) is no easy task. As leadership expert Jim Rohn has stated, becoming a world-class athlete requires the combination of two fundamental ideas: desire and dedication. Yet even Olympians can face burnout: just ask Olympian gymnast Gabby Douglas who told her mom at the peak of her training that she had lost her passion and wanted to quit to take a job at Chick-Fil-A. According to Olympian javelin thrower Inga Stasiulionyte, even the most accomplished athletes, actors, and businesspeople are naturally lazy, and you must therefore strive constantly to override your mind into action. And that action can never cease, no matter the circumstances. Abby Johnston trained for the Olympics while also enrolled in Medical School, snowboarder Shaun White had to get back on the board after a devastating crash left him with sixty-two stitches and a pulmonary lung contusion, and runner Alysia Montano ran in the 2014 US Championships while being eight months pregnant (she received physician approval beforehand).
But as long-distance running coach Jeff Galloway acknowledges, you can never lose sight of what brought you to your sport (or business or focus) in the first place: passion and joy. Remember to have fun and enjoy the process as you move forward. And don’t try to compare yourself, your goals, and your victories to others. The Jamaican bobsled team didn’t have to win the Olympics in order to celebrate the victory of being there in the first place, and Olympian swimmer Chad le Clos can tell you from firsthand experience what happens when you turn your head to see what your opponent in the lane next to you is doing (answer: lose focus and lose the race).
Following are success quotes from Olympians past and present. Use these tips to aid you in your own personal and professional races.
- Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get. – Michael Phelps (Swimming)
- Listen to your body and rest when you need it. – Kassidy Cook (Diving)
- Self-Confidence is key. – Claressa Shields (Boxing)
- Visualize your goals. – Carli Lloyd (Soccer)
- Don’t fear your opponents, just respect them! We are all made of the same stuff! Also, no one is an island, so surrounding yourself with good people can make the difference between winning and losing. – Jason Richardson (Hurdling)
- Mornings matter: If you start your day off with a doughnut, you kind of trash that day. – Natalie Coughlin (Swimming)
- Even if I have a disappointing swim, when I get out of the water, I’m still Missy Franklin. I’m not going to let a race take away any of the sportsmanship, the enthusiasm, or the love I have for what I do. – Missy Franklin (Swimming)
- focus on your short-term goals; knowing those will lead you to where you want to go. – Simone Biles (Gymnast)
- The reality is that we never feel like doing the things that require success. – Ian Warner (Running)
- I am staying in my lane. I can’t control what other people do, so for me, I was always worried about myself and worried about what I needed to do, what I want to do to try to be the best. For me, at the end of the day, when I was training, as long as I figured out what I needed to do in order to accomplish my goals and dreams, then that was all that mattered. Nothing else mattered. Everything else would just play out. – Michael Phelps (Swimming)
Jeremiah Clark, M.A., is a healthcare IT consultant with six Epic Systems certifications. He is also the co-owner of Appalachian Digital, a website development agency. You can contact Jeremiah at JeremiahSethClark@Outlook.com or connect with him on LinkedIn at Jeremiah Clark.