Why You (Yes, You) Need to Learn the Olympian Spirit

The Olympian Spirit
The world watches them. From every home, you see the same pattern of lights strewn across the curtains and windows. These lights belong to the biggest sporting event there ever was. The athletes are focused, and their will is powerful enough to break every bone and stretch every muscle in their own bodies. Years of training prevents this from happening, allowing each contestant give a hundred percent, to prove just how strong they can be.
Humans are designed to look at the skies and pray for inspiration. Yet sometimes, all they have to do is watch themselves. With such a rich history of achievements to look back at, all man has to do is pick the story that embodies the qualities that he yearns for, one sentence uttered that can raise fervor, heave one war-cry against the face of decadence, and prove just why we deserve to survive. No event portrays this better than the Olympics.

The names of winners are thus engraved in all our minds. The enigmatic shine on, and their struggle urging us commoners to get up and join their ranks. They are naught but humans, yet their actions say otherwise. Come, understand just why these men and women rise above the rest, so that one day your name too, may inspire others.
Lessons from Olympic Champions
We can distill the Olympic spirit to singular characteristics, but what remains is the way they link to each other. No quality is more important than the other; they can never work alone and apart. Each winner that you see on your TV screen gathers all the said values to the finest. They all magnify each other and cannot survive without this mesh. That said, we attempt to crack the code of what makes greatness tick.
Discipline
Olympic Medal
What's extraordinary for us is a day's work for them. They conform to rules, but the difference lies in the rules themselves. Their definition of fighting for daily bread involves swimming 50 miles a week, 6 hours a day, 5 days a week (Michael Phelps). It includes the training to be able to clean and jerk three times one's body weight (Naim Süleymanoğlu). To maintain their bodies, they need to eat more food in one sitting than most of us can in an entire day. And not the good stuff either; it's all heavy food meant for muscles rather than the palate. Their daily routine differs so vastly from even aspiring athletes, that the only way to go from where they stand, is upwards.
The Olympian discipline implies sticking to the right kind of teachings, to measure every step and calculate how it can be taken in a better way, and to follow a road where you must accelerate if you don't want to stop. Passion and pride may be visible on their faces, but it only happens when every sinew in the athlete's body obeys his will.
Focus
Every quality can always be said to constitute attributes from others. As for focus, one can believe it to be the mixture of Faith, Optimism, Consistency, Urge and Sincerity.
Swimming
The Olympics is not just about astounding physical feats, it is about athletes who are masters of their minds. The ability to clear out every single thought to make room for only one thing, cannot be done without having faith in oneself. The focused mind knows no 'ifs' and 'buts', only victory. One man who goes by the name Michael Phelps proves this.
Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps
Michael was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at an early age. Instead of labeling himself as a victim of this disorder, he decided to channel all his anger, impulse, and energy into swimming, and making the best out of the worst.
All of America is now jingoistic following Michael Phelps' gold and silver medal wins in the 2012 London Olympics. He is the most decorated Olympian of all time, bagging 22 medals in total. His record breaking performances have made him a legend in the world of swimming. His rigid focus, exhaustive training, commitment to the sport, and successful chases of the medals, are no doubt commendable, but what is most striking is his strength to overcome his medical condition to achieve such tremendous success. Ironic how, once a boy who had troubles with paying attention, now teaches others how it's done!
Perfection
Nadia Comaneci
Nadia Comaneci
Nadia Comăneci was the first gymnast to get the 'perfect ten'. She achieved this in a time when the Olympic organization didn't deem it necessary for the score displays to have a provision for the fourth digit (it could only display until '9.99').
There indeed may be no such thing as perfect, but there isn't a single rule in the world that bars you from trying to reach it. The medal winners are the ones who won't simply try again if they don't succeed at first. They hammer improvements into themselves through sheer determination and repetition. None of the athletes are so gifted that they don't need practice to win. The four years they spend between two events is the assimilation of each day dedicated to thorough practice. Training routines are so strict that nothing less than the desired output will do.
Advertisement
Patriotism
Winning in the Olympics is about believing in yourself and focusing on your strengths. Love for one's nation is a huge driving force which helps participants give their best. It can turn an ordinary athlete into a champion. Few emotions can match the expectations of every single citizen from your country, watching you, cheering for you, and waiting to celebrate your victory. All sports can create this unparalleled sense of unity within a nation, and the Olympics is where it echoes throughout the stadium. It is an athlete's mind that can uphold this pride and let the hopes of his countrymen provide the impetus, or crush his focus and become detrimental to his performance. The winners will always choose the former, making it their honor to represent their country.
Courage
Athlete
Every individual on earth has to, at some point or the other, face or combat obstacles and undesirable circumstances. This is nothing new. In fact, it is foolishness to expect otherwise. Entire races have had to struggle with the wrath of the times. There's nothing remarkable about it. However, what becomes remarkable is how you tackle every volley of trouble coming your way, and yet manage to rise above it; how you keep sticking to your goals and perfect your vocation with unflagging determination; how you identify your calling and keep going at it until the Gods bow down and acknowledge your unmatchable talent and grit. The journey is never easy. Life is seldom just. But then, nobody ever said that it would be. Success is so much sweeter because it comes with back-breaking toil and pain. This is what every Olympian embodies - the courage to work until every fiber of their body aches, to reach a platform of this magnitude. After all,
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all." - Eduard Christoff Philippe Gérard Renaldi, Prince of Genovia (René Murat Auberjonois) in "The Princess Diaries" (2001).
Resolve
A man who stepped up to the plate and made it happen - Oscar Pistorius - has all the right reasons to command respect and salutes, the world over. He certainly has created a rostrum hard to imagine, and even harder to achieve. Pistorius, a double amputee, finished second in a 400-meter heat in an unbelievable 45.44 seconds. Perceptions collapse when a man with "artificially engineered" [sic] prosthetics, competes with those blessed with limbs. What intrigues one no end is his undying resolve to achieve his goals, perhaps transforming his biggest handicap into a prized strength - a trait nurtured by few, albeit dreamed of by many. His achievements teach three very important lessons:
  • Your disabilities, deficiencies, defects, sure do count. But it will always be your blessings that matter.
  • Sincerity, patience, and wisdom help you create opportunities, not find them.
  • Life starts as a blank slate. You read what you write on it.
Well, Oscar Pistorius' divine efforts urge you to let life ape your aspirations.
Endurance
The word often reminds us of the farthest a person's physical self can take him. Olympic athletes display the kind that not only signifies patience and faith, but also strength. It is not limited to the total hours of training put in; it must include the athlete's will to conquer all impedance, whether from others or from within. The ability to resist, withstand and recover from all the negativity around: endurance is what truly separates them from the average folk.
From the physical struggle while competing in the marathon and triathlon, to mentally (and financially) weathering through the problem of competing without a country (Guor Marial), they are the ones who show us how to keep on going.
Confidence
One surely cannot afford to be timid in the midst of the world's best. Regardless of an athlete's true potential, his efforts will always be amplified when he believes in himself. Somewhere in his mind, Usain Bolt knew he was going to win, when he won his first gold. The confidence it takes to stare the opposition down and prove why he is the best is what Bolt is admired for. In essence, the confidence that backs up the effort is always as big as the effort that generates this confidence.
Sportsmanship
A viewer never sees the training that precedes the act. We only see the performance and what the Olympian does during and after it. Those who honor their opponent and respect their teammates are always the ones we find endearing. Keeping a rivalry alive and honorable is tough, which is why it becomes important to follow.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray
"I am gonna try this, but it is not gonna be easy", cried Andy Murray after the Wimbledon finals. He lost to Roger Federer after weeks of playing his heart out. In less than a month, Andy Murray was pitted once again against his rival Roger Federer. The court was abuzz with emotions as the Brit fought on. And he did it. He defeated the world's best player to win the gold.
There was no name-calling, blaming or complaining, during this entire time. Neither legend would back down, and both graced their time on stage and on camera with amazing professionalism. Honoring the opponent after a victory is something everyone must learn, because it is to the defeated that we owe half our success.
After holding the attributes under a magnifying glass, we look back at the fact that they all must co-exist within someone, or they won't exist at all. You cannot have confidence without resolve, perfection without discipline, endurance without focus, or discipline without determination. The winners know this, and now, you do too. It is the eternal human struggle to mold honorable morals and not fall to the sins. Those who succeed in this, rise up. The call comes to everyone, it is their wish to reply. Those who do, become immortal.
Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens
"In the end, it's extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don't win, how can you lose?" - Jesse Owens (four gold medals in 1936 Summer Olympics)
Advertisement