I have been soaking in as much of the Olympic vibes as possible. Last week on my way to The Haven for a Come Alive, I caught the skytrain down to the heart of Vancouver and enjoyed just walking and chatting with folks. Of course during the Come Alive my energy and attention shifted to the folks in the group. Though I found it quite fun to check out the results either online or through dinner conversations.
Now back at home I am watching with CrisMarie, an Olympian from the summer games. In the past she wasn’t too fond of watching. It seemed to stir some pain from her own Olympian disappointment in finishing sixth. Fortunately she seems to have come to a different place now. Able to recognize the amazing triumph of making it to the Games and competing at that level and even drawing from the disappointment to speak about the lessons learned about teaming; primarily the difference between being a boat of champions and a championship boat.
It is interesting to me to watch the athletes. Especially the ones expected to medal. So much pressure. Some seem to embrace that moment and rise to the occasion. I am not just speaking of those who win their Gold, Silver or Bronze but also about those who don’t, yet still stay thrilled with the moment and able to recognize that on that one day they did not win.
Personally I believe it takes excellence and dedication over time to make it to the Games. It takes a peak moment to win the Gold. Very different. One not better or worse then the other. But different.
I love the events where some unexpected contender races to the lead, surprising everyone. I was watching the USA hockey team beat Canada 5-3 and watched the goalie defend 45 shots at the goal, only allowing 3 to get in. I could not help but wonder was that a peak moment or a sustainable performance. Just the fact that Canada got 45 shots on the goal versus 20 some by the USA, who was the better team and who was having the better moment.
That is what makes the Games so interesting to me. There is just that drive that allows someone or a team to come together and practice and dedicate themselves to making it to the greatest sporting event. That effort alone is something any Olympian I would hope could recognize and honor for themselves. Then there is the moment – the event. Some will rise that day and fly; others will put their heart in the event to simply be beaten by a better performance and some will fall and never cross the finish line. Indeed that moment can be crushing after all the effort. Still I can’t help but believe that there will be a day when each and every athlete that walked through the gate during the opening ceremonies can and will fully embrace the accomplishment of that – with or without a medal to show for it.
In the Come Alive we talk about the Power and Strength Model. This is a continuum that we are all living and choosing all the time. The power side of the model deals with control, roles, security and dominating the world around us. The strength side deals vulnerability, authenticity, risk and finding our will from within. For me this is the essence of the Olympics. I see and hear the continuum being played out through these athletes. The power in winning – taking the podium. The strength in competing – rising with or without a medal. Some will get fixated on their moment. That moment may be one of greatest or humility; victory or defeat. Some will flow through the moment. Again through the high of winning or the low of falling short of their dream. I can see it on their faces as they embrace their team mates or not, speak to the press or not and through the awarding of the medals. With some the fixation is clear. This moment will define them for some time. For others it is simply another piece of the fabric of their lives. May be a bright spot but still just a piece and they are already moving on.
We are all like these athletes. Life is like the Games. Fortunately not being captured on TV. Yet still working with that same dynamic. The moments and the day-to-day effort it takes to make those moment possible. We are our peak experiences as well as the little choices we make every day.
Sometimes I get stuck focusing on the moments and miss the opportunity to move on. Sometimes I forget to celebrate a moment and move on too quickly. Indeed life is always offering me so many opportunities to wake up – in-the-moment and over time. I would like to be one of the ones who does indeed wake up and can celebrate that I made it to the Games and gave it all the power and strength I had to offer; with or with a medal.
That would be cool!!