Like many of you, I have been watching and enjoying the Summer Olympics from London for the past few days as the athletes vie with each other to earn the right to step upon the podium as the best of the best. That trip was not traveled alone; coaches, teammates, family, friends, and fans gather around these young men and women as they strive with all their might to reach levels of highest excellence.
Lessons are learned as the games play out, and they resonate with perfect clarity. When 2011 World All-around Women’s Gymnastics champion Jordyn Weiber did not qualify to compete in the women’s all around, her tears spoke of her frustration with herself and her disappointment in not making the cut. Michael Phelps, the golden boy of the 2008 Bejing Olympics, also experienced the frustration of not making it to the podium this year in events he had dominated.
Both of them remember an image most Americans will never forget: gymnast Kerri Strug being carried in the arms of Coach Bela Karolyi to the podium to receive her team gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics. As children, they watched Strug slip and fall on her first vault, hurting her ankle. The situation was desperate since unexpected mistakes by some of her teammates gave the Russian team the window they needed to take the gold. Despite tearing two ligaments in her ankle, Strug had only thirty seconds to decide to take her final vault, knowing that her attempt to secure victory for her team would cause greater damage to her ankle, eliminating her from the all around competition.
On that day, Kerri Strug literally sacrificed herself for the good of the team, helping them win the gold medal. This lesson was not lost for the two youngsters and so many others who watched the vault and the one-footed landing. In the mind of a champion, the desire to do well is so strong it can sustain the athlete through the discipline, pain, and sacrifice required.
Both Jordyn and Michael put aside personal disappointments and focused on working with their teammates. The result… not only did Jordyn and Michael climb to the top step of the podium to receive the Gold Medal, they shared the moment with seven other star athletes. They kept striving and opened themselves to the help, encouragement, and support that surrounded them, and everyone benefited. They concentrated their energies on what the entire team could still achieve and refused to let a setback define all they had accomplished.
We can clearly apply these lessons in our quest for goal and the TOPS recognition program and awards. While a particular title might not be yours to claim, it in no way minimizes your tremendous effort. Your chapter sees you as the winner you are and knows what an asset you are to the progress of the entire group. Your strength and inspiration will benefit the entire group as they work to match your accomplishments with their best efforts.
Together, Everyone Achieves More!
GO TOPS TEAM!
I Care, Barb