Reflections on Rio

5 Takeaways from the Olympic Games

In last week’s post I shared some reactions to my friend Krista Duchene, competing in Rio, in the women’s marathon. You can read about it here.

The 2016 Olympic games are history now, but I think there are plenty of life lessons that we can learn from them.


Whether you were an avid fan, a casual observer or even disinterested altogether, I think there were significant life lessons to be learned, that can make a difference for us moving forward.

5 Life Lessons From The Olympic Games

  1. Success is more than winning.

I think that it’s easy to approach life with a narrow view of success. How do you define it? In sports winning and losing is easy to see. The scoreboard tell s it all…or does it?

For Lanni Marchant (Canadian marathon runner) success is “laying it all on the line”. In other words after all her training and preparation for the Olympics, giving it her best effort was how she defined winning.

She knew before the games began that she wouldn’t win the marathon. So why bother competing? Because success is not about winning but competing and doing your best while doing so.

     2. Perfection is a myth

As someone who struggles with this, it was good to be reminded again that perfection is not the point. After finishing 6th in the 1500m race, Canadian Ryan Cochrane said, “It’s not about being perfect but getting better.” I love this. I need to hear this over and over. I’m all about learning, improving and progress. I think when we stop trying to improve, whether it be in our relationships, our health or our work or whatever, we fall back. We get lazy and the most important things in our lives can suffer for it.

Perfectionism is often rooted in fear. Fear of failure, fear of ridicule and fear of rejection. When perfection is our standard, we can actually sabotage the very things we want to accomplish.

Take this blog post for example. For some reason it just won’t format properly. I spent hours trying to fix the problem, but as you read this you will know that I was not successful. There was a time I wouldn’t have posted this. But hopefully this will be helpful in spite of how it looks.

Let me ask you a question:
If you knew you could not fail, what would you do, that you haven’t done yet?
I’m close to completing my first book…but it’s been an emotional roller coaster as I get closer to publishing. I go from excitement to discouragement and back again. Why? Fear perhaps. Fear it won’t matter. Fear that it will be torn apart and no one will like it. But I know that my first book won’t be my best book. Why? Because we get better the more we do something. Getting better takes time, practice and commitment.
     3. HOW we do something is as important as WHAT we do.
Some of the most inspirational moments of the Olympics came when many weren’t watching. For example, in the women’s 5000m race, two runners, Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino collided. They gave up hope of winning an Olympic medal and instead helped each other up to continue to the finish line. Moments after D’Agostino aided the New Zealander during the 5,000m race, the American collapsed to the ground in obvious pain before Hamblin repaid the gesture.
Hamblin and D’Agostino finished last. But how they competed mattered more.
     4. Character Matters
I don’t know if the Rio Olympics were much different from past games, but it seemed to me we saw an unusual amount of poor sportsmanship. While runners were helping each other up, others were showing the dark side of human nature. Here are a few examples…
  • “Egypt’s Islam El Shehaby, blue, declines to shake hands with Israel’s Or Sasson, white, after losing during the men’s over 100-kg judo competition.” CREDIT: AP 
  • One of the most disheartening moments for me involved the French athlete, Renaud Lavillenie. “This was the moment French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie was reduced to tears after being booed on the podium while he received his silver medal. IOC president Thomas Bach described the crowd’s behaviour as “shocking” and “unacceptable at the Olympics”. Lavillenie had been booed by the crowd during Monday’s competition, as he battled Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva for gold, giving a thumbs-down gesture to the cameras as he prepared for an attempt. After the medal ceremony, IAAF president Lord Coe, vice-president Sergey Bubka and Da Silva attempted to console Lavillenie, who simply wrote “no words” in his Twitter account of what happened.” World News
  • Hope Solo, goal keeper for the USA women’s soccer team…calling team Sweden “A bunch of cowards” after losing to them in a shootout. Even her teammates couldn’t defend her.

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” Henry Ford

     5. Success Happens In Community
We saw some great performances in Rio. But no one even got to the Olympics without a significant team around them. No one achieved anything without the support of a larger community.  From coaches and sponsors to family and friends, every athlete had the support from a multitude of people.
One of my favorite moments was when Krista Duchene crossed the finish line at the end of her marathon run and immediately went to her family and coach for hugs and kisses.  That scene will never get old.

“Krista DuChene’s Olympic experience was everything she had hoped for. Running in the women’s marathon on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, DuChene finished 35th in a time of two hours, 35 minutes, 29 seconds. The Brantford resident said she will forever cherish being able to meet her family and coach Rick Mannen almost immediately after crossing the finish line.

“It was the absolute moment you dream of as an athlete and a mom and a wife and a sister,” she said over the phone from Brazil.

“I ran over to them, hugged them and we were cheering and crying.

“That was the moment . . . . It all came together perfectly in terms of the experience and the race itself.” Krista Duchene

Do you want to improve a specific area of your life? (Finances, Health, Relationship, Career)
Do you have a dream you want to accomplish?
Don’t try to do it on your own. Learn from others who are where you want to be; get the support and encouragement you need. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed.
Yes, the Olympics are over but the lessons we can learn and apply from them are not…
  • Success is more than winning
  • Perfection is a myth
  • How we do something is as important as what we do
  • Character matters
  • Success happens in community

Which ones can you take to heart and apply to your life?

Feel like there is more to your life than what you are experiencing today? Not sure where to start? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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