Stoke your fire with the Olympic torch

more articles

For many of us, the Olympics mean 16 days of compulsive watching, often of sports we’ve never shown an interest in before.  So why are we so fixated? The fact of the matter is the 35 official Olympic sports we see on our screens today are often secondary in terms of INTEREST to the pomp and ceremony of the show itself. We like a good party. As if this weren’t enough, our interest in the results is also often secondary to our fascination with the participants themselves. Our inner flames are stoked by the rippling athleticism of the sporting candidates as they showcase their dedication, their prowess and, let’s get real, their impressive Olympian bods.

The Olympics first took place in Olympia, Ancient Greece in the 8th Century BC. Today, it’s fair to say there have been a few changes since Zeus first planned his first sports day, but the grit and determination behind the Olympic motto ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ (faster, higher stronger) remains unchanged.

Although most of us watch the games from afar (sometimes with pizza) – we can still feed our fires from the bright aura of the Olympic torch. As we marvel, sigh, gasp, cheer and shed the odd tear even – there’s a lot we can take from the lessons the athletes subliminally feed us, and we can apply them with pride. Let’s take heed.

Hard work and dedication

These worthy attributes come from a desire to succeed. Any Olympian athlete will have established goals that push them forwards to become medal winners. Setting goals and then dedicating yourself to them is essential if you want to excel in any field.

Committing yourself in this way means putting heart and soul into your onward journey. A strong work ethic and belief in yourself is a heady cocktail that can lead to great things. High achievers are dedicated to their work and goals, even on bad days. As Michael Jordan once said:

“Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I led you to believe it was easy, when it wasn’t. Maybe I made you think my highlight started at the free-throw line, and not in the gym. Maybe I made you think every shot I took was a game winner. That my game was based on flash and not fire. Maybe it’s my fault that you didn’t see that failure gave me strength, that my pain was my motivation. Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God given gift, and not something I worked for… every single day of my life.”

There is no TEA in teamwork (oh, hang on)

All Olympic athletes work in teams, whether they perform with them during the games or in isolation. Coaches, nutritionists, psychologists, family, PR teams – you name it. A team that works well together is one that understands the role of each team member and plays its part with dedication.

Teamwork is crucial and we can learn a lot from the Olympic teams and apply their successful mentality to our own lives. Great teamwork is about a synergistic way of working – one where the sum is greater than the parts.

Outside of the Olympics, we occasionally see teams made up of expensive star players outperformed by teams with players who may be individually less talented. This is usually the result of powerful, synergistic teamwork, typically managed by a skilled manager who will manoeuvre team members like chess pieces on a board.

Teamwork empowers us, helps us achieve and inspires relationships through camaraderie and emotional support. Make your teams (in and out of work) stronger by nurturing them and playing your part actively.

A life without goals can be as unfulfilling as a football match without them

Top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields all set goals. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. Your long and short-term goals focus your acquisition of knowledge, and help you to organise your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life.

A life without goals can lead to stagnation OR you will see you running like a headless chicken but achieving very little for your energy expenditure. Without goals, we can become de-motivated and unsure about ourselves. Set small goals, mark when you have achieved them, then use these brownie points as a constant reminder of how far you’ve come.

Crystallise and articulate your goals and see how much clarity you start to effect. Use your energy wisely!

Shine bright like a diamond

The Olympic Games constitute an opportunity for the host city and country to showcase themselves to the world, but it’s also an opportunity for individuals to showcase the results of their drive, determination and skills to the planet.

There is great beauty in working towards a goal, achieving success and allowing yourself to bask for a little time in the light of it – whether in your work, your creative projects, or other personal endeavours. Always take time to enjoy success before you move on to new goals or ventures. Enjoy the sensation that your time has been worth your struggle or sacrifice.

Whereas we are not all performers, and not all of us enjoy a spotlight, there are all manner of ways to shine your light, showcase and feel pride in how far you’ve come, whatever your endeavours may be.

Pierre de Coubertin created the Olympic committee and, while listening to a sermon during the 1908 Olympic Games, heard the following ‘creed’ that has sat alongside the Olympic Games ever since. It seems fitting to end with it here (though whether you agree with him is something else…)

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.