THE BLOG

What Parents and Others Can Learn from Sochi Olympians

02/13/2014 02:18 pm ET | Updated Apr 15, 2014

I love watching The Olympics for more reasons than one.

For an athlete to rise to the elite level of being able to compete with the best of the best in the world is truly an inspiration. Each has a story. Some overcame odds. Some suffered losses. Some are bouncing back from injuries. ll have a level of discipline that is beyond admirable. Whether they bring home a medal or not, they are all champions.

I've never been a particularly sporty gal. I was raised playing recreational tennis. I enjoy weight-lifting. And, more recently, I took up lap swimming... learning to do the crawl when in my late 40s and overcoming a fear of deep water. It was not something I ever had on my "bucket list," but it's been a thrill to discover such as passion that I didn't anticipate. It took a lot of effort on my part, practice and positive self-talk to get there, but it was well worth it. I hope swimming will be a pastime I take with me into old age.

Becoming an Olympic athlete is a way of life and for some, one that started very very young. The level of commitment and diligence cannot be measured. But, it's not just a one-person job. Just as raising a child can "take a village," so does the making of an Olympian. It takes support from many players: coaches, parents, other family members, partners, team mates, etc.

Last week, I caught a television show on NBC called "How to Raise an Olympian," and so many life lessons were shared that are worth noting. Some of the strong takeaways include:

  • The journey is always fraught with challenges, so having resilience is key.
  • The power of love and loving life can take you far.
  • Having internal drive makes a big difference.
  • Focusing on today and how you can become better is imperative.
  • Following your dreams will keep you going.
  • Having faith, confidence and self-belief can help you overcome.
  • Ultimately, enjoying/weathering the journey counts more than the outcome.

I am the mom of a 10-year-old boy with ADHD, and last year in fourth grade, when he had to write an essay about a person he admires, my son chose Michael Phelps. Not only is he a fan of his swim accomplishments, but he can relate to him, since they both have ADHD.

This year, skater Jordan Malone shared his story re: ADHD, and it's another inspiring one.
http://303magazine.com/2014/02/sideline-teaser-jordan-malone-sochi/

I so respect the candor of these athletes. It's a huge motivator for kids. And I so applaud the efforts of the parents... in the case of Phelps, his mom, who has long been his big time cheerleader. Without her, who knows where he'd be?!

Every child needs that!

As parents, we all want our kids to succeed. Not everyone gets to stand on a podium and have a medal draped around their neck. But our kids are heroes in our eyes. We can share with them the life lessons athletes offer and learn by example, inspiring our children to follow their own paths. Yes, there will be failures along the way, but as the Olympians can attest to, it all makes you stronger in the end. Without guts, there is little glory. And, as anyone who has ever wanted something big in their life and achieved it would attest to, success requires inner resolve and muscle. Athletes have as much inner strength as outer, and that's a winning combination.