Lesson from the Olympics
- Written by Nancy Williams, LPC
Like many of you, I’ve been spending a lot of time in front of the television recently, proudly watching individuals and teams represent us in the 2012 Olympics. It’s exciting to watch them compete against the world’s best athletes and achieve so many great successes. Their talents and skills are amazing as they challenge and even surpass world records. And yet, we know that talent and skill is not the only reason for their success. These young people are totally dedicated to their craft. They’re passionate about their sport and fully committed to doing whatever is necessary to excel. They’re focused on their goals and don’t allow themselves to be distracted. They’re willing to do the hard work of learning, practicing and sharpening their skills. As we’ve listened to their personal stories, we’ve learned about the sacrifices they’ve made physically, financially and even emotionally to train with top coaches and programs across our country. We’ve even heard about the spiritual support that guides many of their minds and hearts. As we watch them ready for their events in London, we see a spirit of confidence that seems to override their uncertainties. While those challenging thoughts may try to creep in and throw them off course, what they exhibit above all is a confidence that they’ve prepared to the best of their ability and are ready to meet success. Some reach or perhaps even surpass their goals and receive the medals they’ve dreamt of. Others fall short of a medal but are satisfied to have given their best and met the success of their own personal goals. Then there are those who don’t perform as well as they had hoped and are left to sort through the tears as they come to terms with their loss. And what about those who gave all they could, came up short of reaching the goal for that event, and now must prepare for another event? How do they do it? Perhaps that takes us to another trait they exhibit. Resiliency. They have the ability and fortitude to bounce back. To let go of the past and move forward with renewed focus and determination. When interviewed about their performance, they choose not to dwell on what went wrong. Instead they talk about shaking off the defeat and preparing for the next event. I’ve written about this trait of resiliency before and our Olympians are giving us a fresh example of how to deal with life’s successes and life’s disappointments. Resiliency is key for them and an important tool to help us all cope with life’s challenges and setbacks. As I look around, I find situations in the lives of friends and family as well as in my own life that call on us to hang on and press through tough times. To be able to get back up and move forward after we’ve been knocked down. To bend without breaking. To let go of past failures and focus on future possibilities. Illness. Job loss. Relationship conflicts. Broken hearts. Disappointments. Times when life takes an unwanted turn or we fall short of our goals. Sometimes they are results of our own choices. Other times we do our best, yet things happen outside of our control and we find ourselves disappointed. While we may or may not be able to control events that come into our lives, we always have a choice about the attitude we will embrace as we determine how we will respond. Adaptability, flexibility, buoyancy, elasticity and determination coupled with hopefulness and even a sense of humor prompts us to press on. We strive to be survivors and find future success, not victims of our struggles or failures. When we choose an attitude of determination and hopefulness, we find the resiliency that helps us not just survive but thrive in the midst of stressful, challenging times. So, let’s cheer our athletes on to victory and celebrate their willingness to represent our country with their time and talents. And as we do, let’s learn from them how to approach life with confidence, focus, determination, fortitude, and with resiliency. And let’s celebrate each day the blessings that are ours along that journey. Go, Team USA! Nancy Williams is a licensed professional counselor, life coach, speaker, writer, and author of Secrets to Parenting Your Adult Child (Bethany House, 2011). Send comments or questions to her at www.nancywilliams.net.