A Strategic Race

Did you become as addicted to watching the Olympics as I did?

Two things stood out to me as I marvelled at the athletes’ accomplishments; I trust their relevance extends far beyond Athletics to those of us involved in less competitive or visible pursuits:

  1. Athletes were clear on their goal. There was a moment when the first runner across the finish line was featured on the screen, just as an enormous “Woot!” could be heard behind her. It was one of her competitors, celebrating enthusiastically. That runner barely made it onto the television coverage, but she was rejoicing over a Personal Best with far more gusto than the gold medallist. She knew what she was going after.

Even in the Olympics, the real goal may not be obvious. You get to choose what you celebrate.

  1. Winners don’t always run as fast as they can. The best athletes know when to conserve their energy and when to expend it. They also know how to position themselves relative to their competitors, choosing when to lead, when to follow, and when to make a dash for the finish line. I heard a commentator describe one race as a “fascinating tactical experience.”

Even individual sports are social. And on the biggest of days, knowing you’ve prepared as well as possible, you can’t fully predict what will happen. Because it’s never only about you.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

My family enjoyed a Tweet that we referred to often during the Games that said, “They should put an average person in each event, just for reference.” We joked that a random lucky winner should get a letter in the mail, similar to jury duty,  saying, “Good news! You get to go to Tokyo and compete as a synchro diver!” 🙂 But the point is well taken, isn’t it? It raised a third reminder for me: pay attention to your benchmarks. You want to be inspired by the company you keep, while remembering that you may be comparing yourself to Olympians.

If you live in the northern hemisphere as I do, the second half of summer has a bittersweet quality as the evenings get a bit cooler and thoughts of a busy fall season creep in. How well are you managing your strategic race?

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