Olympic Rings

The 2012 Olympic Games in London have just come to an end. For these two weeks every two years I spend more time watching sports on TV than probably the entire two years between them. I love watching a gold-medal run.

Names like Michael Phelps, Usian Bolt, Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, Oscar Pistorius, and others are now household words around the world. There’s something about the Olympic Games that draws us in.

There is such drama packed into those two weeks that little else can rival – the exhilaration of winning, the agony of defeat, and the sometimes heroic achievement of some athletes just to make it to London.

I love the intensity of the Olympic Games. I love seeing people who have pushed themselves to the limit, overcome great obstacles, and kept going even through periods of “failure” to reach their dream.

Why do we love to watch the Olympics? I think it’s because a part of us would like to be one of them. Oh, we wouldn’t like to lose. But we would love to experience that kind of achievement. We would love to be able to say, “On this day, in this way, I was the best. I made it!”

I believe there are gold medals to be had in many areas of life. That’s why sports is such a great metaphor for life. How about these:

  • A single parent raises their child to live by the values of love, courage, and integrity
  • A couple erases a lifetime of financial debt and changes their family legacy in the process
  • A battered woman decides to be a victim no longer and creates a new life for herself
  • Someone laid off from a job creates a new business where there was none before
  • An addict to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs breaks free of the addiction
  • A survivor of child abuse perseveres until she finds emotional and spiritual healing
  • A husband or wife whose marriage is about to collapse finds the courage to learn a whole new way of relating

Any world-class athlete has at least these factors in common. And they are the same things that will make a difference in your personal race:

  1. Perseverance. Every winner refuses to give up when things get tough. They’re in it for the long haul.
  2. Expect trouble. Obstacles are the stuff winners are made from. Economic adversity, family trauma, physical “disability,” pressure from others – it’s all normal, and to be expected.
  3. Mental attitude. Winners have a winning mindset. They didn’t start out that way, but they CHOSE to become winners, and to do whatever it takes.
  4. Help from others. Whether it’s a coach, nutritionist, training partners, teammates, etc. all gold-medal winners get there with help.
  5. Willing to learn. Winners know they don’t start out knowing everything they need to know. Both their body and their mind need development and training, and they’re willing to change as they learn.

What if you and I gave the same kind of intense effort to the life races we run every day? What if we put the same kind of effort, learning, and perseverance into our marriages, parenting, financial life, emotional healing, or spiritual growth?

The good news is that in life there are plenty of gold medals to go around. Why not decide which ones you want to go after?

Your turn: What race are you running? What gold medal do you want? What are you doing to get there? Leave a comment below.

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