Well once again, the Olympics are taking place and as usual I find myself completely awestruck and inspired by the athletes who are competing. I was watching the men’s halfpipe snowboarding competition the other night and I got to thinking about what it took for all these competitors (there were 29 who started) to get where they were.
Most likely, they developed the love of their particular sport before they were 10 years old. As soon as they showed some promise, they would have been entered into age group competitions, and if they continued to shine they would start to get professional coaching and training. They would practice all week in between school, and most weekends would be given up to competitions. Almost without exception each would have had an injury that would keep them out of competition for some period of time, perhaps a few months, in some cases a season or more.
They would have limited social lives, maybe no time for a boyfriend or girlfriend, they might have to live away from their parents for most of the year. Then, for only a select few, they would qualify to try out for their country’s Olympic team, where they would have to compete against 20, or maybe 30 people who spent just as much time and dedication and sacrifice for the few spots allotted in their sport for a place on the Olympic team.
In halfpipe, it looks like 4 or 5 spots for each country are allowed, in track and field, only 3, and in swimming only 2. Then assuming everything worked out and they actually made the team, then they get to compete against the very best in the world for the 3 medals allowed in each sport. In the halfpipe competition, 29 competitors started, 17 of them didn’t make the finals, and of those 12 who did make the finals, 9 earned no medal. Most of those competitors will never compete in an Olympics again.
As I watched this, I wasn’t thinking about Shaun White who won the competition, I was thinking about Ben Ferguson who came in fourth. His journey to that spot was more or less the same as Shaun’s, but did his fourth place finish make him a failure? Not to me. I have been in enough competitions to know that the difference between winning and not winning can be very small and capricious, as small as a thousandth of a second in a timed event, and a tenth of a point in a judged competition and I guarantee you that had the event taken place a day earlier or a day later, the results would have been different. I came to realize that the success is not in the end result, but in the journey and in our daily lives, just as in sport, our success is in the journey not the end result.
So my point in all this is for you to make your journey through this life mean something along the way and not just at the end, make every day something, something better today than yesterday, something better tomorrow than today.
Have a great weekend everybody.