You and I may never be Olympians. We may never ski jump, throw down a triple cork in the halfpipe, or attempt a triple axel on the ice. We do all have an Olympian living inside of us, though, and if we can tap into that power, we can achieve our goals. Reflecting on these games, these Winter Olympic athletes are an example of what that looks like. Here are a few pickups we can all take with us…
Imagine riding your childhood sled at 87 mph. Luge, at its heart, is a dangerous sport. Watching luge, the relationship between risk and reward is on full display. Want the reward… the gold? Then you’re going to have to risk racing outside of your comfort level to get there. Ask yourself… What are you willing to risk, and are you willing to play just beyond your comfort level to achieve your goals?
Short Track Speed Skating
Short track speed skating has been compared to Nascar on ice. Like the luge, it’s another sport where going as fast equals winning. For these skaters, moving at speeds of 30 mph on two blades, trusting the edge on their skates is essential. Each of us needs to understand what our own personal edge is. We need to sharpen that edge and then lean into it. It’s what will keep us from crashing when we’re going fast. Ask yourself… What’s your edge, and what are you doing to sharpen it?
This is a sport that has captured my interest since I was a little kid. It looks terrifying and tranquil all at the same time. There are no aerobatics or tricks. Instead, jumpers launch into space, assume the form they’ve built over time and training, and fly confidently through the air. That confidence is what I love. Ask yourself… Am I confident in myself that I’ve done the work and trained myself for success? If not, what areas do I need to train in more?
We all had a front-row seat to Mikaela Shiffrin’s slalom challenges. I’m writing this having watched her break down emotionally after going off course in her second race of the games. As Shiffrin put it in a later interview, “I had every intention to go full gas…” That’s what she did, and she failed. I believe it was Lindsay Vonn who later explained it this way. “I’d rather go all out and fail than hold back and place 13th.” Ask yourself… Are you going full gas to get where you want to go, or are you holding back because you’re afraid to fail?
Speaking of going full gas, let’s talk about snowboard slopestyle. Over and over again, amid mind-blowing tricks, there have been some scary crashes. Behind the scenes, over months and years of training, I guarantee there have been more crashes than landings and more failures than successes. Like slalom skiing and luge, winning requires going big and taking risks. Ask yourself… Am I willing to take the risks I need, and stretch myself into some uncomfortable spots, to achieve what I want?
Mogul skiers expect the bumps. They’re not surprised when they encounter them. Instead, they’ve created a sport where riding the bumps is how they win. They choose their line, adapt to the obstacles, and work to find their rhythm quickly. Ask yourself… Are you embracing the bumps or fighting them? Yes, eliminate all the obstacles you can. But, when the bumps do come, do you fight them or have you found ways to stay elastic and ride them out?
Living just outside of Chaska, Minnesota, I am just a couple of miles from the Chaska Curling Center. It’s one of the premier curling venues in the United States, and being in proximity to it has created an elevated interest in the sport. The thing I’ve learned watching curling is the need to incorporate strategy into our lives. Specifically, we always need to be thinking a few shots ahead of where we’re at. Ask yourself… How have I incorporated a plan and strategy into reaching my goals? If this happens, what will I do next? And if that happens, what will I do after that?
To win at anything, you need to have a solid team around you. The hockey teams that stand on the podium will include great forwards, defenders, and goalies. They won’t just have one great player – they need a team of great players to win. We’re in the same position. When you look at your goals, you won’t achieve them alone. Even the best individual athletes, say the snowboarders and figure skaters, have coaches and teams supporting them. Ask yourself… Have I surrounded myself with the best team I can and the right people to help fill my gaps?
Cross Country Skiing
There is something powerful about this event, like almost no other. Competitors in cross country skiing often collapse at the finish line. These athletes show us what endurance and perseverance look like, racing long courses that test their stamina and mental toughness all at the same time. Any of us who have ever worked on achieving a goal over a long period of time, sometimes years, understand endurance and drive. Ask yourself… Where is my endurance level at? Do I want what I want bad enough to keep going when I get tired or the course gets challenging?
When I was young and watched the Olympics, I wanted to compete there. Winter or summer, I would pick events and mimic them in front of the TV or out in my yard. I wanted to be an Olympian. Watching the games this year, it struck me… I may never compete in luge or hockey or skiing, but I have goals I am chasing just like these athletes. And, based on what they’ve shown me at these Winter Games in Beijing, I’ve found a handful of these traits above that will help me get there. I hope they help you achieve your goals as well.
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I hope this quick take on finding your inner Olympian is helpful to you. Follow me here for more insights like this one. And if you liked this, you’ll also get massive value out of the Grit Meets Growth podcast that I share with Chris Cathers. Find it here or on your favorite podcast platform, and let’s all take gold!