The few individuals in the world who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of athletic perfection in their chosen field is an inspiration.
You rally behind them – rooting for your country’s representative to do their best, even if this is the first time you’ve ever heard their name.
You hold your breath during their performance, gasping if they fall.
But what does it take to become an Olympian?
Personally, I haven’t a clue – my favourite sport is channel surfing.
But for 16 days every two years, I am taken back to my childhood when I imagined I could be Nadia Comaneci. (Btw, did you see her during the 2014 Sochi games? I would still like to be her!!)
One of the Canadian women athletes (and I am ashamed to say that I can’t recall which one – if you know, please post it below) said something that I thought really summed up what sets Olympians apart from the rest of us mere mortals.
She said, (and I am paraphrasing),
“The Olympics aren’t something you can dream about coming to. You have to believe you will get here.”
It’s been almost a week since I heard that, and it has stayed with me. Not because I believe that one day I will get to the Olympics, especially if I put zero effort into training for …well, anything.
But I resonated with that statement because it could be applied to each of us, in whatever our life’s pursuit.
For me, my career goal is to tell the stories of people and businesses who are making a difference in the world so they can gain the recognition and support they need to continue their great work.
I could go about making up ad campaigns and marketing strategies to attract companies to my website. I could cold-call prospects. I could network and schmooze my patootie off, but if I don’t BELIEVE that I can do this work, I will never reach the ‘Olympic’ level I’ve dreamt about.
Why? Because something in me – in the way I speak, in how I present myself to clients – will convey that I don’t believe in myself – so why should they?
Of course I can’t just cross my fingers, close my eyes, click my heels and say ‘I believe, I believe’ – even if I feel that belief in my soul.
The belief has to be accompanied by action.
There is work to be done to attract the clients, just as the athletes need to train vigorously for hours on end.
I will compete against others vying for the same clients. And I will win some and I will lose some. That’s part of the game.
I have heard that athletes that win a silver medal are often depressed because they were so close to the gold; that bronze medal winners are thrilled because they made it onto the podium; and that fourth place winners are driven to train even harder and often return to win a medal themselves at the next Olympics.
The psychology of competition is complex and interesting.
Often our biggest competition is against ourselves.
We question our very value and self-worth.
Can I do this?
Will anyone find me in the vast webosphere?
What can I offer that is different from the next person?
While I won’t be presented with ribbons or medals for each of my wins, I will consciously acknowledge and celebrate each victory, no matter how small, because with each step I am learning what it takes to be champ.
Here’s what I believe:
To have a chance at winning, no matter the race, you have to:
1. Find what you love to do.
2. Learn all you can.
3. Practice every possible moment.
4. Set firm and realistic goals.
5. Set your intention.
6. Believe you can do it, no matter what others may say.
7. Do it – as many times as it takes, over and over again.
8. Surround yourself with coaches and cheerleaders.
9. Celebrate each and every milestone.
10. Never stop believing.
And every now and again, look back at the starting line and see how far you’ve come.
Because every victory along your journey is a gold medal win.