Olympics lessons…on winning and losing

The summer 2016 Rio Olympics is almost at a close and in addition to reflecting on this very exciting event, I simultaneously commemorate today which is World Humanitarian Day. From the triumphs of many of the athletes to the gracious ways in which many accepted defeat the Olympics was a true testament to human character. However there were moments where others have tainted the competition and illustrated that competitiveness if not healthily nurtured can create true monsters – some of the ever present viral commentators via the numerous  social media included. From comments on Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, etc body shaming and reckless  inhumane utterances unconscionably abound.

Which brings me to ponder on the meaning of what it means to be a humanitarian which states that its to be  ‘involved in or connected with improving peoples lives and reducing suffering,’ (Source:Cambridge dictionary). Scale is relative as this can be on an individual basis as well as on a major level (for example- a community such as current flooding in Louisiana, a  country such as Syria or vulnerable groups such as refugees). On the individual level often we forget that in our daily walk extending kindness, justice and dignity to people we meet is a form of humanitarianism. We may in a moment be saving someone’s life, uplifting his/her spirit and/or encouraging an individual to take another step or go  another mile.

This is due in part to the human quest to not give up or surrender in the face of adversity/es…coincidentally that was a common theme throughout many interviews conducted with athletes. Many repeated and/or shared their stories of having to overcome adversities and adversaries. The story is now known of one of our own Jamaican female athlete who was not deemed ‘good enough’ for a local team but who through encouragement and perseverance pressed on and is now a double Olympic gold medalist. The most important lesson then is to keep jumping those hurdles like an hurdler and pressing through the obstacles and challenges like in a steeplechase event.

You see just like many of these athletes who have endured tremendous personal, physical and mental sacrifices so too must the common man. The lesson for us then is not just for this Olympic moment but instead it is for all through our lives. The euphoria will pass but the lesson must endure and propel us on. Sometimes we may lose, we may fall but we must never give up…our Olympic gold may be just around the proverbial corner. However, we, like the athletes, must keep (preparing) training and keep (working) competing …all in anticipation for our own rewards, successes, awards, breakthroughs, etc.

  • Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 years, he could not read until around age 7 years and his teachers said he would not amount to much…
  • Steven Speilberg ‘s poor grades resulted in him being rejected from cinematic arts school three times…
  • J.K. Rowling’s first book was rejected thirty times…
  • Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper having been told that he could not write, had no imagination and no good creative idea…
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her TV  job having being told she was too emotional and not fit for TV…

There is a long list of prolific ‘failures’ who are just simply not failures anymore…

So lets be more inclined to be gentler, kinder, more just and less intent on destroying each other. Do not add to another’s burden but seek to assist where possible. We may be in the presence of greatness…plus it just does not hurt to be nice.

Everyone does not win (and we can substitute excell, triumph,prosper, etc) at the same time but each and every person will and does overcome…if nothing else we have certainly seen numerous examples of those at the 2016 Summer Olympiad in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

‘In the end only kindness matters’



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