My friends and family know that I am obsessed with the Olympics — or any world sporting event, really. Be it the World Cup, the Tour de France, or even the World Series (which I realize isn’t really global), I will lovingly dedicate time to watch the coverage and learn about the athletes. This year is no different. I have been faithfully watching live coverage of the Sochi Olympics day and night and I’m addicted.
Those of us who watch events like the Olympics can get caught up in the fanfare, the celebration of athletics and the amazing stories of the athletes who have dedicated their lives to compete. As an amateur athlete, I admit to romanticizing it all. To be an Olympic athlete, I imagine, is the holy grail of success.
Recently, I read an article, 7 Ways Olympians Stay Motivated, which presented an interesting perspective — that the training athletes commit to isn’t all fun and games. At some level I understand this. Hard work is hard. But I guess, I never really thought about how it isn’t always fun. C’mon — you get to run/ski/luge/figure skate/snowboard for a living — that’s got to be A-MAZING, right? In the article, Olympic champion and figure skating icon, Dorothy Hamill said she “adored skating, but training to execute the figures perfectly at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck that year was, frankly, kind of miserable.” Additionally, “Hamill said part of what spurred her on were the sacrifices that her parents and coaches had made. She wasn’t very interested in school, and most of the family’s money went to her training. It was skating or bust.”
I thought about this for awhile and realized that the attitude I had towards elite athletes is very similar to those others have about owning your own business. Yes, it’s very satisfying to work for yourself and provide valuable services to others, but it requires a lot of hard work, discipline and isn’t always fun. Which isn’t to say I don’t love it.
The notion that dedicating your life to something you want isn’t always fun is kind of revolutionary, considering that we’re always told “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I doubt many athletes will say that what they do isn’t work. The Olympics are a healthy reminder that doing what you love isn’t always fun. Which doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing; rather it’s about having realistic expectations. I may not enjoy all the tasks on my to-do list, but when I am able to help a client achieve their goals, that’s very rewarding, which is fun!
While I may not be an elite athlete, I’d like to think that the Olympics and other world sporting events have given me a better understanding of what it takes to be one. Despite the stressful schedules, the sacrifices made, the long hours and tireless commitment, when you are able to achieve your goals — whether it’s earning a gold medal or building your brand, somehow it all feels worth it.