I love to watch the Olympics. I’m all about inspirational moments (yes, this means I also watch the Oscars and milestone events, like Jay Leno’s last show). This particular Olympics seems chock-full of stories of those who have persevered or overcome perceived obstacles like age and location, and the folks who have not rested on their laurels.
I’m talking about you, Armin Zoeggeler, the Italian luge racer who has won medals in six consecutive Olympics, which is a record for an individual sport. He is 40 years old and just won a Gold medal yesterday. Then there is Shiva Keshavan, the Indian competing under the Olympic flag because India was suspended by the IOC from competing. He has no coach, no track – he trains on a sled on wheels, whizzing along the streets. He is the one who fell off his sled on a practice run but was able to get back on it and finish the run – at something like 80 miles per hour. This guy doesn’t give up.
There is the Canadian snowboarder from Saskatchewan who trained on dry hills, because his home is so flat. There is the Norwegian who won Gold in the Biathalon at the age of 40. There is the Russian who competed in his seventh Olympics and at 42 became the oldest to ever win an individual medal in Olympic history (beating out the Norwegian Biathlete from the day before).
Everyone knows about Yevgeny Plushenko, who at 31 years old is the grandfather of figure skating, and who helped lead the Russians to the Gold in the first-ever Team Ice Skating competition. He said, “I try to forget all my titles. I want to open a new page in my book.” And this seems to be the key – who can make progress without trying a new trick now and then?
Plushenko said, “Four years ago I couldn’t imagine doing a quad in competition. Now I’m planning on two quads.” Well, he didn’t end up doing both of them, but he wasn’t afraid to try. Sage Kotsenberg won the first-ever Gold medal in Slopestyle with a trick he had never tried before: a Back 1620 Japan. For those of you wondering, that’s four and a half rotations in the air, corked (off-axis) and landed on your non-dominant side (backwards). He seemed as surprised as anyone, but certainly happy.
There are many more stories like this, of course. Who could ever forget the Jamaican bobsled team? This time, they lost their luggage en route, but it eventually showed up. Still, it didn’t seem to phase them; other teams offered to loan them clothes and equipment. The main thing is, that not a one of these people was afraid to try. They all forged ahead. They tried new things. Sometimes, they came back from defeat. Sometimes, they changed their attitude. In the end, they are all winners.
You can do this. You never know until you try. Make your own next chance, and win your own Olympics. Learn the new software, try the new tactic, make the new connection. Me, I confess I’ll be watching a lot of these stories unfold over the next two weeks, but I’m going to carve out some time to get my own game up to world-class competition level, too. What’s holding you back? What can you do today to bring your game a little further along? Where will you be in a year if you don’t do it?