Every four years, for two plus weeks I’m glued to the television for this little thing called the Olympics. It’s been this way since I can remember, back when I’d have the newspaper spread out to see the schedule of events. The newspaper people. When’s the last time you looked at a newspaper to see what’s on TV? Yeah, it was a LONG time ago. Back before I realized this future six-foot body would not lend itself to a career in gymnastics. Heck, I’ve never been able to do a single cartwheel :).
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for competition and sports; even some of my favorite movies are in that genre. And one of the biggest reasons why is that sports inspire me. What the human body can do physically and mentally inspire me, the personal stories inspire me, and the lessons I learn (you guessed it)…inspire me.
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games aren’t even over and I’ve already taken away some powerful lessons. They may look a lot different from what I learned when I was eight but they hopefully will enrich my life more than the faded dream of killing it on the balance beam 🙂
3 Unforgettable Lessons From the Olympics
Michael Phelps vs. Le Clos
You’ve seen the pictures of Phelps mean mugging before his race against Le Clos, right? There’s some history between the two of them, but basically, Le Clos was trying to get into Michael’s head by continuing to stare him down non-stop before the race began. Phelps seemingly was attempting to stay in his own head and not pay much attention to Le Clos’ antics. The race was amazing and Phelps ended up winning. But there’s a bigger story here. Toward the final stretch of the race, as Phelps had his head focused forward ready to finish strong, Le Clos was to his right with his head completely turned toward Phelps. He ended up not only losing to Michael but not getting on the medal stand altogether.
The lesson here? STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE. Do you boo. How often in life are we focused on what somebody else is doing? How well another blog monetizes, how talented the girl across the sand on the volleyball court is, etc. etc. I can go on, and as someone who is competitive by nature, it can be so tempting to fall into the trap of comparison. But where does it get you? That race to me was such a perfect picture of what happens when we lose focus of our own goals and focus on someone else. Failure. I’m the only one in my lane; the only one walking in these shoes, and what will help me get to my finish line is to not shift my attention to someone’s else’s.
Aly Raisman and Simone Biles after the All-Around
Who wasn’t glued to the screen for Team USA Women’s Gymnastics? Ok, there probably was a few of you but you missed out! Not only is that team crazy talented, but they’re a wonderful example of how women should interact with other women. When Aly Raisman was sitting in first place and had to wait for Simone Biles score to come in to see if she kept gold or got knocked down, she embraced Simone while waiting. And when it was announced that Simone won? Pure happiness on Aly’s face as she celebrated with her friend. I actually got a little teary-eyed (which, let’s be honest isn’t very hard) because it was so beautiful.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. I know I just talked about staying in your own lane, but on the flip side, when there are people who come along you in life, lift each other up! Get out of the comparison and envy game and share in the joys of your people. I know it’s not easy when you’re not where you want to be in life yet, but letting someone else’s star shine doesn’t diminish your own.
Weightlifter Sara Robles
Weightlifting traditionally hasn’t been a sport I pay a lot of attention to, but this year I was able to catch Sara Robles winning the first medal for the U.S in this event ever. She had the most contagious energy and when I watched her interview after her win, she blew me away. When asked why she screams before she lifts she answered, “If I scream, I’m the loudest voice in my head and I won’t listen to the others telling me I can’t do it.” I LOVE this. Not that I’m going to walk around screaming all day, but it speaks to the power of our thoughts and how crucial it is to root out the negativity. Because they do have power and I know that I underestimate the effect they have sometimes. My takeaway? BE THE LOUDEST VOICE IN YOUR HEAD. Figure out a way to knock out the negativity by whatever means possible.
Sara wasn’t done dishing out her words of wisdom. When asked about the challenges she had in getting sponsorship for her sport, Sara started by saying that is was a challenge because for some companies it was hard to clothe her due to her bigger size. However, instead of playing the victim card or getting angry she brightly stated that it was okay because “it created an opportunity for creativity”. Can I get an Amen?! This is how I wished I looked at the world; how I want to look at the world. Through a lens like hers. Looking at all obstacles as opportunities.
All of these lessons are in areas I’m trying to grow in; I’m definitely not trying to claim that I have it all together. Far from it, but that’s why sports to me are so much more than zoning out and watching a “game” for a couple of hours. Hopefully, these 3 unforgettable lessons from the Olympics will translate into a better me :).
Did you catch any of these stories from the Rio Olympics? Do you have any more to add? Let me know!!