Monday, July 23, 2012

What Can the Olympics Teach Us?

It is the Olympic season! The London Summer Olympics begins FridayJuly 27, 2012, and ends SundayAugust 12, 2012. I am sure many of you are looking forward to catch your favorite players and world’s leading athletes compete in the most challenging games. There are so many magical moments that happen during Olympics - success and failures, laughter and tears, achievements and injuries.
The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius, a Latin expression meaning "Faster, Higher, Stronger". 
Inspired by the Olympic theme and the five rings, here is my take on what Olympics can teach us as learning professionals and how we can create learning opportunities that help learners get faster, higher and stronger:

  1. Goals: No Olympian won a gold without dreaming about it. If I could ask any competing athlete what their goal was - I bet it would be to win a gold. As training professionals and trainees we need to start with a goal. Not everyone wins a gold, but it is a good place to start planning.
  2. Plans: The intense planning for success, among other things, includes identifying our strengths and weakness and designing strategies to meet the goals by capitalizing on our strengths. It also involves gaining an understanding of things that can be controlled and accepting things that can't be controlled.
  3. Resources: Trainers, training opportunities, equipment and so much more. Behind every gold, there is a well-funded training infrastructure. The individual can't perform his/her best without this support. It is the foundation on which individual and team success is built.
  4. Practice: In the spirit of excellence, Olympics teach us about endless training and passionate practice. It is not always about the 'win'. Instead practice is about the commitment to be the best of what we can be and it is soaked with blood, sweat and passion.
  5. Feedback: Perhaps the biggest teacher of all - feedback. Feedback from the coaches and our failures. It is at the time of failure that we can provide (and obtain) the best guidance, inputs and feedback. Motivating feedback helps athletes pick themselves up from personal mistakes and disasters and use failure as the stepping stone to success. 
The Olympics teach so much about individual goals, team performance, perseverance, determination, pride and humility but more than that, they teach us about how to live the best life we can, how to commit to excellence and pursue our goals with endless passion. 

Just like Coubertin's ideals as expressed in the Olympic creed:
"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."