The Olympic torch has been extinguished and the bouquets have wilted. The Olympics are over, but the amazement of the talent, the anticipation of greatness in action remains part of our wonderment. I miss the Games mostly because I enjoy watching success in a time when we see so much failure and dissension. The Olympic Games are a snapshot in time but Olympians live their lives consistently devoted to their success, harnessed skill, passion, and sacrifice. Curiosity remains about what it takes to achieve and maintain that glory and lifestyle.
The Olympics provides a unique look at a world where athletes can compete with men in unstylish speedos, women in bikini bottoms that could have wardrobe malfunctions at any moment, and a new American Olympic hero with a controversial hairstyle and penchant for a snack that was criticized as unhealthy.
Some have won -- in fact, Michael Phelps has been named the most decorated Olympian of all time. Some have lost and experience as they say, the agony of defeat. Expectations have been fulfilled and some have realized gripping disappointment. It peaks our curiosity about the lessons learned from the success and failure of the Olympic athletes and how it applies to our everyday existence.
Olympians are exceptional human beings -- they have learned to fly. Whether it's propelling from a mat on the floor reaching irrational heights, flipping on the uneven bars, propelling into space for the perfect dive, or running in fast forward; they fly, defy gravity as we know it. Like a Peter Pan story where he found his "happy thought" and learned to fly, they uniquely have learned to harness their passion and energy while maintaining their convictions and faith. Why can't we all harness that power whatever our passion may be?
We need to ask ourselves, what is it that we are willing to do and sacrifice to reach the stars? Is it foregoing our family relationships as many Olympians must do? Would you be able to change your living conditions or take a step back and finance your goals? Is it the pursuit of an advanced degree to stand out from the competition? Or is it the time, devotion, and self-denial required to practice and grow to reach our personal best?
Do you picture yourself in the role of success and concentrate on goals and celebrate small victories along the way? Olympians do just that.
We can't forget that listening to those who have lost is as meaningful as those who have won. The winners will continue their successful workouts to get stronger, striving for more excellence with a new-found confidence. But most who went home without a medal around their neck don't hang their head and say "poor me." Quite the contrary, they shed their tears, then evaluate where the winners were great, what went wrong, and where they need to improve, how to soar to reach their dreams.
American gymnast Aly Raisman chose to personally recognize the 40th anniversary of the fallen Israeli Olympians who were murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics in her own way. She chose "Hava Nagila" as her background music for her floor exercise. The International Olympic Committee chose to avoid public commemoration of the event but our gold medalist Aly did it in her way, happily and uniquely American. It is her personal passion that likely boosted her to gold with clapping of the crowd, success through passion.
To the pundits who criticized gold medalist Gabby Douglas for her hairstyle and used the opportunity to mock her fast food celebration, "get a grip on the American style." Gabby demonstrated All American style, grace, class, and faith in God stating, "the glory goes up to Him, and the blessings fall down on me." This American girl has been raised to focus, do without, demonstrate her beliefs. She holds on to her convictions and lives comfortably in her passion and goals.
Michael Phelps can proudly wear his medals and enjoy his status as the most decorated Olympian; Usain Bolt can brag about his athletic prowess as the fastest human; Ali can proudly display her heritage and commemorate Israel's loss in her unique way; and Gabby can praise God, select whatever hair style suits her, and can eat whatever McDonald's fast food reward she wants. They all deserve their glory and their celebrations. They have found their "happy thoughts" and maybe their "happy meals," and focus on what makes them fly.
It is a wonderment that the Olympians perform the feats that make them appear super human but when we look at the devotion and focus required for greatness, it is no mystery. Despite the drive and dedication, many Olympians live in poor conditions and claim asylum. This year, 21 missing athletes and delegates have claimed asylum in England or are missing.
We can't all be Olympians but we can identify and strive for our personal best and maintain our convictions and faith as well. We want to capture personal success and we must decide if we are willing to do what is required for greatness. They all share a sense of conviction, focus, passion, and self-confidence that makes them soar.
Shall we try?