What Can the Olympics Teach Us About Ourselves?

RIO OLYMPICS Athletes Hard Training
Like most of you, I immersed myself in the Rio Olympics. Although I’m not much of a sports person myself, there is something about witnessing people achieve at that level, that I find inspiring. Of course there were the usual suspects, like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt that won’t be matched for generations, but it was the surprise heroes that had the most impact on me.
The 40 year old farm boy in the Marathon. The runner, turned rower. The school boy swimmer. The decathlete. The Iranian beach volleyballers.
These athletes optimise to me what the Olympics is all about, determination and dignity.
They came out of no-where, no fanfare, no expectations, no massive sponsorship deals, just them and their quiet confidence to have a crack, give their all and be true to themselves.
I sometimes wonder if it is even possible to surprise yourself (like tickling yourself), can you really not know what you are capable of? But these individuals showed us that sometimes, showing up and giving your all is enough to surprise yourself and the world.
For those of us that participated in the Olympics from the couch, how can we learn from this?
Since 1999 I’ve helped tens of thousands of people start exercising. First in health clubs as a membership consultant, then later as a business consultant, teaching other membership consultants around Australia & New Zealand, and finally as a business owner. I don’t conduct the training sessions, I help people make the decision to start. Then handover to the experts to take you on the journey.
In that time I’ve noticed a few things that people who make it to their goals have in common and they are qualities that these Olympians share…
  1. Determination – those who succeed, keep showing up. They decided at some point, that this will work, and they make it work by doing the work!
  2. Resilience – every Gold medallist who ever lived has been sick, injured, discouraged, or suffered a family emergency at some point. Do they let this stop them? Hell no. They keep at it. The same goes for those who succeed with exercise. They don’t make excuses, they just pick themselves up and keep moving forward as soon as they can.
  3. Discipline – making the choice to follow the plan, respect the coach, trust the process, and stick with it, helps them develop the discipline to do what is required on the good days and the bad. They don’t make excuses, they make decisions.
  4. They enjoy the journey – it’s not all about the end result. It’s about the process. They enjoy the training, the practice, the competition. If there is no passion or joy in what you are doing, how can you stick with it?
  5. They expect to succeed – if you don’t believe you will get there, you won’t. Hope is enough to get you started, but to succeed you need to believe.
  6. Hard work is more important than talent – being naturally good at something, can’t teach you how to get better. It may give you a small edge to start with, but hard work wins over natural talent every time. Keep at it, you will get better.
  7. Millimetres and microseconds count – Expecting massive improvements, weight loss, strength gains etc, is a sure fire way to discourage yourself. When the difference between a gold and 4th is 0.01 seconds, every little bit counts.
  8. It’s all about the PBs – Beating your own personal bests, keeps you focused internally, and not worried about what others are doing. You don’t have to be the fastest there ever was, to feel proud of running your first ever 10km fun run, who cares if you’re the slowest in the group? Everything you do today, that you couldn’t do yesterday, is a win.
  9. They have a support team – a coach, a mentor, family & friends, who are all supporting their goals. They do what others won’t, because they are supported by people who care about them and believe in them.
I’m sure there are way more than this, but if you are struggling to stick with your exercise plan, reflect on that list and see what might be missing from your approach. If in doubt, talk to your trainer or give me a call. And remember, you can’t succeed if you don’t show up!
And if you give it your all, you may just surprise yourself too!

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