Thursday, January 23, 2014

Congratulations and Condolences – and my urge to remain hopeful and positive through it all.

(I have to say, the Internet here in Seiser Alm is horrible, some of the worst I've ever experienced in Europe. So, sorry for the lack of pictures, posts and returned emails!)

The first order of business. Congratulations to those just named to the 2014 United States Olympic Team. It goes without saying that being named to the team is a huge honor and privilege. I’m sure that along with the naming of the team comes congratulations beyond expectation – notes from people that you haven’t heard from for fifteen years and places where you may have spent a month or two claiming you as their own hometown Olympian. There is certainly cause for celebration and celebrate you must as being named is an amazing accomplishment. Seeing that you email inbox is most likely full, the purpose of this blog is specifically aimed at those that were close but were not named.....

To those in that boat: take a day or two to be disappointed but once that 24 or 48 hour period is over do yourself a favor and hold your head high. The US Ski team women have a rule that if you have a bad race, take 10 minutes or a cool down by yourself and then put a smile on your face. It doesn’t help anyone, yourself included to mourn for an extended period of time. Some may argue that it’s easy for me to say since I’m a member of the team but I urge you: Don’t regret following your dream. Be proud of your effort, your fight and giving it your all. There is an extreme amount of honor in people who chase their dreams with reckless abandon.  Yes, sometimes those dreams will materialize into reality and other times, they may fall a little bit short. However, if you take it too personally and dwell on  what could have been, it will eat you alive.

If you read my last blog you know that it was about concentrating on the process rather than the outcome of ski racing.  The article I cited stated that to get the outcome, one must focus and concentrate on the process thereby allowing the outcome to take care of itself. Too much focus and concentration on the outcome and the outcome alone will only lead to unhappiness and in my humble opinion, a wasted opportunity.

What does all this mean you might ask? Can she be more specific?  Yes, yes I can. I understand the obsession with the Olympics and with the quest to become a member of the exclusive club. There is a saying, “Once an Olympian, always an Olympian.”  But while the Olympics may overtly be about who can ski uphill with the most efficiency, slide down the track with the most speed, complete the quadruple axel with precision or the overall medal count I believe the Olympics are about a whole lot more. At the core of the Games are the Olympic ideals - “Olympianism” is the technical term.  You see, the Olympics are guided by core principles including excellence, respect and sportsmanship both on and off the "field of play." 

The way I see it you have a choice, an opportunity.  I hope you decide to take the high road; that is, espouse these characteristics whether you have the title Olympian or not; insert these ideals into your everyday life, your existence, your identity.  Use them to guide your character at the breakfast before coffee, or in the choices you make when no one is looking. Strive for excellence in your athletic, professional, and personal life. There is a cliché quote that says, “reach for the moon and you may fall among the stars.”  If you strive for excellence in each and every way good things will undoubtedly happen. 

The worst thing you can do is to view missing selection as a failure or as lost time.

Think back to your journey beginning with the moment that you decided to “go for it,” the excitement of verbalizing your goals and pouring yourself into the pursuit. Think to the moments of silence or fitness when you went on that perfect extra blue classic ski day where you felt invincible, unstoppable. (The analogy I use for good classic skiing is “cutting through silk”).  Recall the towns and mountains you’ve seen on your travels and the friends that you’ve made along the way. Heck, think about the awesome pair of German National Team spandex you traded your suit for or that delicious cappuccino you sipped in the Italian sunshine! You must be able to find joy in the journey; even if it didn’t end with the title you sought out to receive.

I hope that this post doesn’t come off as trite or disingenuous. I sincerely mean everything I have said. I believe that every athlete, every competitor, whether he or she is a recognized Olympian or not should be proud of their effort, dedication and passion if they indeed gave it their all. Everyone has a story to tell and I urge you to think of what you want yours to be.

No regrets, give & receive hugs as needed and once you’re at peace with yourself embark on your next adventure! We all have so much to be thankful for and sometimes, a little reminder to reflect on those positive aspects in our lives can go a long ways.