Seeing the Olympics Through a Different Lens

Posted by Ann Deaton Share Your Voice

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I love the Olympics. I can't wait for Friday night's opening ceremony. Because the thing about the Olympics is that over the course of just a couple of weeks we will observe incredible examples of many of the attributes we value most in our athletes, our leaders, and ourselves. We'll see ....

  • instances of incredible courage as an athlete continues to compete despite pain, or after experiencing a fall that takes away any chance of winning her event
  • amazing examples of emotional intelligence as athletes, parents, and coaches choose to express and to channel the strong emotions that arise with the opportunity to be the best in the world, to represent your country, or to graciously congratulate a competitor
  • innovative new approaches to athletic events that have been around for decades and even centuries

The Olympics are always, for me, the opportunity to see people at their best. The Games show each of us a brilliant picture of what could be if we put our all into our dreams, while still bringing our very best human selves to the process of competing--win or lose.

Of course, not all the images from The Games will be inspiring. We may observe explosive anger at the perceived unfairness of a judge's score. We could see athletes who are so focused on themselves that they forget that others worked just as hard to get here. We may even have to stay up later than we'd like to see the events we care most about, only to wake up grumpy and uncommunicative the next day. So what we experience with  the Olympics will not all be inspiring. And yet  there is learning there as well, learning because we are all human; we are all less than perfect and it requires continual courage, compassion, and commitment to bring our best selves when things don't go our way.

I trust you will enjoy the Olympics, and appreciate the wisdom they offer. As you do, consider these quotes from Olympic athletes. If you applied these quotes as wisdom for how you lead (or how you parent) each day, what else would be possible for you?

Timing and inspiration: Mia Hamm (American soccer player, 2004 Summer Olympics)
I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.

Humility and Perspective: Fanny Blankers-Koen (Dutch athlete, 1948 Summer Olympics)
All I've done is run fast. I don't see why people should make much fuss about that.

Vision and Persistence: Florence Griffith Joyner (American athlete, 1988 Summer Olympics)
When anyone tells me I can't do anything, I'm just not listening any more.

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Small Ann Deaton I am a leadership coach, and Managing Partner in Bounce. I love to coach and facilitate with individuals and systems experiencing significant change and growth. The clients I work with, regardless of their age or position, are talented and creative individuals willing to look with fresh eyes at their challenges and opportunities, and to take action based on their discoveries. As a result, they find that they are capable of accomplishing far greater things than they ever imagined. What do you want to accomplish today? Who do you want to be?

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