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Have the Motivation of an Olympian

The Olympics are here! The event that brings athletes and the world together. We see individuals compete at mind-boggling levels and the athlete in us watches in admiration and awe. When we think about the hours, the years, the lifetimes of practice and dedication, we can’t help but feel insane pride when victories have been achieved. However, it’s almost unbearable to think about what seems like buckets of sweat and lifelong dreams gone to waste when disappointments, less than perfect performances and losses are had.

However, the Olympics are much more than just victories and gold medals. What we find so captivating is the skill mastery, the sweat, the tears, the athleticism and the nerves. But most importantly, we find ourselves captivated and inspired by the dedication, motivation and perseverance found in every Olympic athlete, regardless of the outcome.

Think of Betty Robinson, who ran in the Olympics then got in a life-threatening plane crash. She spent 7 months in a coma, 6 months in a wheel chair, 2 years learning how to walk and then came back to the Olympics and won a gold medal in the 4 x100 meter relay. Think of Wilma Rudolph who suffered from scarlet fever, double pneumonia and polio yet earned herself a ticket to the 1956 Olympics at the age of 16. Think of speed skater Dan Jansen who fell in the 500 and 1,000 meter races after learning of the death of his sister but later came back and won the gold medal in the 1,000 meter race and took a victory lap with his daughter (who was named after his sister.) Think of Derek Redmond who snapped his hamstring during the 400 meter race. He didn’t win a medal but he finished what he started and with the help of his father, he crossed the finish line in the midst of a standing ovation.

The motivation and perseverance of these athletes is admirable and at times can feel unattainable. But fortunately for us, motivation isn’t a God-given gift, it’s not a skill and it’s NOT unattainable. Motivation and perseverance are created and fed by our own desires and expectations. The only thing stopping you from having the motivation of an Olympic athlete, is you. According to Dr. Jim Taylor, the amount of motivation one has when training becomes hard, tedious, tiring, painful, not enjoyable, and seemingly impossible is what separates the winners from the losers. When a truly motivated athlete faces the grind, they don’t give up or ease up…they keep going.

But how do we do it? How do we instill that type of motivation in our children, our athletes, and in ourselves? More importantly, how do we persevere when we’re faced with the grind?

Remember why you started. You started because you loved the sport and when you truly love something – you teach yourself to love every aspect of it. The grind? It’s part of the sport. Learn to love it.

Have the desire to improve. It’s simple – you have to want to improve in order to get better.

Celebrate victories – no matter how small. Sorry, you can’t order success at a drive-thru and get it at the next window. Success takes time and it takes patience. In order to stay motivated, rely on and celebrate the small victories. They’ll keep you moving forward.

Keep the bigger picture in mind. It’s not about just one game. One mistake is not the end of the world. Keep your short-term goals high (but be nice to yourself) and keep your long-term goals higher (but don’t budge on the end goal.)

Kristina Groves, a speed skater who competed in the world cup for seven years before winning her first medal, clearly sums this up by saying, “perseverance is planted in a word – grit”. She is now a 4-time Olympic medalist.

We hope you enjoy the upcoming Olympics. May they entertain you, may they keep you at the edge of your seat, and most importantly – may they motivate you to persevere.


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