As the 2012 Olympics unfolds, I realize the dedication, effort and sacrifice that must be embraced in order to achieve the high level of performance of each participant in every event from not only those who finish in first place but also those in last place. Their effort spans many years of hard work and sacrifice not only by the athletes but their families and coaches as well.

Each new event brings another aspect of an Olympian’s life into view that only pushes me further into awe. Whether it is watching Michael Phelps collect his 22nd medal and claim his place in history or watching the gymnast Gabby Douglas win her first gold medal, I feel pride at their achievements.  Each one of the athletes has me thinking about the messages that are communicated without saying a word.

Some of the vital ingredients that come together to shape an aspiring hopeful into an Olympian include:

  1. The love & support of family – With each smile or tear, that the cameras catch of the athlete’s family, I’m reminded of the tremendous effort that went into arriving at this moment. The faces of the athletes and the parents seem to say that the sacrifices required have been worth the opportunity to experience this moment.
  2. Coaches – The Olympic coaches are a vital ingredient in helping the athletes achieve their goal usually bringing an in-depth knowledge of the sport.  But they bring more than that. They hold a picture of what is possible for the athlete to achieve.  This belief coupled with discipline and love moves an athlete from ordinary to extraordinary.
  3. Enjoying the journey– As the athletes entered the stadium on opening night, the sheer joy of being a part of the 2012 Olympics is apparent.  The hard work, the dedication to a goal, striving to be the best are the journey and life is about the journey not just the destination.

Ultimately to me the Olympics is not about sports but rather about the human spirit.  Watching the athletes I can see the full range of human emotions that cover the spectrum from:

Hope – The confident desire that “I will achieve my goal”.

Joy – The joy that comes with competing and doing one’s best.

Despair – The disappointment at not doing one’s best and letting one’s self, family, coach and team down.

Renewed Joy – Bouncing back after defeat and not giving up.

Finally to me, the importance of setting goals and committing to and dedicating oneself to achieving them is one of the most important life lessons of the 2012 Olympics.

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