by Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M.
Although the Olympic Games are meant for elite athletes and only come along once every four years, there is much we can learn and utilize from the spirit of the Games in our everyday lives to further performance in all levels and domains. As the modern Olympics began to take shape in the early 20th century, Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee. He proclaimed its core beliefs as, “the important thing is not winning but taking part. What counts in life is not the victory but the struggle; the essential thing is not to conquer but to fight well”. In other words, competition is healthy. Great rivals and competitors push each other to their limits. This type of competition allows individuals and teams to discover each others’ true potential. Yet, this is only done when the environment frames competition and development appropriately, much the way the Olympic Games have been staged.
Competition run amok can start to look very different. When winning and looking superior becomes the sole motivator, temptation to cheat, harm and take inappropriate action may become the unfortunate result. A scoreboard focus minimizes the ability to compete effectively, causing frustration and angst to overtake more helpful emotions of excitement and inspiration on the playing field.
What messages are more actively promoted within your environment?
1) Struggle effectively and maximize effort…that’s what will lead us to success. We need great rivals to make us stronger!
2) Just get the win. The opponent is in the way of our success!
What would happen if you and your team are more motivated by option #1 for the next 5-10 years? Where will you likely be? Now ask yourself the same for option #2.
Environment matters – It shapes us, motivates us and carries us down the path of life. Our environments create the foundation for the decisions we make, especially in times of high stress and uncertainty. Choose and create Olympic environments whenever possible. We will all be better off in the long run!