An olympic heart of gold

A moment of reflection during the Rio Olympic buzz…

As an American former competitive athlete and a professional career coach, I think we can all learn a lot from watching the Olympics. I watch the athletes who dominate their events and achieve unimaginable performances to reach the gold… and focus on something else.

It is what my former university track coach, Bill Hodge, once referred to one day while I was frustrated with my inability to perform better than my much more talented team mates. “I’d rather have a team full of athletes who have heart like yours, than a team with only natural born talent”. Conditioned by an environment that valued results, medals and records, this was anything but a compliment to me as an 18-year old hoping to beat others in the 400-metre hurdles. 17 years later and watching the athletes in Rio, I realise that Coach Hodge had spoken words that would come to define my future successes in life.

From someone who once was excited how many medals the US would take home in my favourite races on the track, I now celebrate the journeys of the athletes that have drawn on their inner-strength to overcome and persevere; who have found a way to stay focused and determine in a chaotic environment; and who value the Olympics as experience that will help shape their future. I know now, as a professional career coach, that this is the journey that will help the Olympians draw on their inner-strength or “heart” to find success in life.

Because few of us will be awarded the gold for the records that we’ve broken and the competitors whom we’ve beaten, but like many of the athletes competing in Rio, its about finding our “heart” to competing in our marathon called life.