Every four years for three weeks in August, we have the pleasure of watching the best athletes on Earth compete for their countries. This year, the world will watch as more than 10,500 athletes representing more than 200 countries will compete in 306 events in 28 sports. That’s a whole lotta athletic awesomeness!
Sadly, fewer than 2,500 athletes will walk away from the Games with either an individual or team medal. Even though that may mathematically seem like a fairly respectable 24 percent chance, consider that the odds are actually less than that because a single athlete can (and sometimes does) win multiple medals at the Games. The odds become even slimmer if you’re just talking about the gold medals. There are only 812 of those babies out there.
Win or lose, we’ll all be captivated by the incredible speed, grace, skill, power, strength and sportsmanship of these incredible specimens. Now I’m a total sucker for amazing athleticism, but what always gets me going the most are the stories of these athletes and the roads they’ve taken to get to the Games. They get me all jazzed up with inspiration and sometimes a little (or a lot) choked up.
Even if we may appear to be very different, there are so many lessons they can teach us about life.
6 Lessons We Can All Learn From Olympians
1. Don’t be afraid to dream an impossible dream. As I watch their interviews and stories, I can’t help but wonder what if they had decided to give up on their dream. It just goes to show that confidence is key. No one ever won a medal that didn’t, at some point, believe that he or she could win. No matter what your goal in life, you won’t make it if you don’t believe.
2. Everyone has to start somewhere. These people are humans just like you and me. Sure, they may have been somewhat gifted genetically, but at some point in their lives, they were all beginners. Don’t let the long road ahead keep you from chasing your dreams. We’re all beginners before we become great.
3. The clock is always ticking. Think about how different your life would be if you knew that you only had a shot of reaching your goal once every four years. What if you didn’t have tomorrow to try again to get it right? What if this moment, right here and right now, is all you ever have? These athletes have a sense of urgency when it comes to their goals. There’s no guarantee that they will have a chance to come back and try again. Sometimes, to get what you want, you’ve gotta be bold and willing to take risks. Act like every moment of your life counts … because it does.
4. You’ve got to be willing to start over. Many of these athletes’ stories can be summed up with one word … resilience. They all had odds to overcome and many, at some point, had to fight their way back from a potentially career-ending injury. But even if you’re not hurt, every four years the Games are over and the preparations and training have to start all over again. When you suffer a setback, remember that it doesn’t mean your journey is over. You can’t be afraid to pick yourself and get back on the horse.
5. There’s a ton of glory in the journey. Let’s be real here, many of the faces you see proudly marching for their countries in the Opening Ceremonies are aware of the slim odds of getting a medal at the Games. Does that keep them from beaming from ear to ear and feverishly waving their country’s flag? Absolutely not. They prove that even if the odds are stacked against you, it’s still possible to show up and enjoy the ride. Many athletes will leave the Games without a medal but they all still have a lot to be proud of. Don’t get so fixated on the result that you forget to enjoy the process and be proud of yourself along the way.
6. Pride provides purpose and perspective. The vast majority of the athletes participating in the games aren’t going to be rich or land a lucrative endorsement deal. But the honor of being chosen to represent their country on the world stage is huge — an awesome chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Whenever you set a goal, consider the positive effect it can have on your life — and by extension — the people you love.
What is your favorite part of watching the athletes compete at the Games? —Alison