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What I Learned from Watching the Olympics…in Person! [Part 2]

I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” — Mia Hamm, American soccer player and 1996 and 2004 gold medalist.

When I was in Rio a couple months ago at the Olympics I had the privilege of meeting several gold medalists.  One of them had medaled in the 2012 London Olympics, a guy by the name of Jason.  He is now in the FBI. I asked him what it was like getting back after accomplishing such a phenomenal goal.  He said the day he got back he stepped onto the ground from the plane and thought to himself:  “What the f@*& do I do now? I didn’t know who I was.” His identity was so based in the sport that he didn’t know how to do life outside of it.  Every day for the 4 years previous (and probably much longer than that), Jason had something he was pursuing.  I was challenged on a couple levels:

  1. Am I taking my life mission as serious as Jason?  Is there something that I am passionate enough to attack with the ferocity that these Olympic athletes do?  If not, why not?
  2. What is my identity based in?  What is it that, if it was taken away or accomplished, would leave me confused and rudderless?  Who am I becoming?

Thoughts about Challenge #1:  Can we think of ourselves as athletes and be committed to our “cause” or our life mission as much as they are?  What are you attempting to do that’s important?  If you are not attempting something important, what needs to change?  Because you have something important you are supposed to do on this earth.  These athletes are attempting to clear a bar or throw a disk or run 100 yards faster than everyone else.  It is exciting but really on September 1, what does it matter?  They have a saying “Gold medal on Monday.  Ebay on Tuesday.”  What impact does it have on the world?  It is a spectacle of sport and competition and a worthy endeavor, but we are dealing with an endeavor just as grand and just as important—changing people’s lives.  And this can be done wherever you are planted—the marketplace, the non-profit sector, the home, the family, traveling, in being an employee or an employer.  So why can’t I even give 1/10 of the commitment that these athletes give?

The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” — Bobby Knight, American basketball coach of the 1984 gold medal-winning men’s team.


Thoughts about Challenge #2:   Big doors swing on small hinges.  Small things matter. Little things. Like the angle you take off from.  The difference between the gold medal and not even placing is split seconds in the 50 Free and 100 and 200 yard dash. There are small changes that have disproportionate impact.  This power of habit (check out the great book HERE) would say that small things in our life can have big impact.  We are the sum of all of our small decisions.  What are your patterns?  What are your habits?  Where is your identity found? If you don’t like who you are becoming, this is the great news:  YOU CAN CHANGE IT.  TODAY.  It’s never too late to change direction or to start a new path, even if you feel like you’ve failed.  A lot.  One good place to start is Michael Hyatt’s life plan resource.  Another help is this “big rocks” video about the big things in life and then this article that explains it.

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career … I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan, American basketball player and 1984 and 1992 gold medalist.

Pete Hardesty

Pete Hardesty grew up in Baltimore, MD and graduated from the University of Virginia. Pete then joined the staff of Young Life in 1997 till present. He lives outside of Washington D.C. where he leads the college division of Young Life for the eastern part of the U.S. He loves college students, beach volleyball, and his 2 nieces very much. Likes: His nieces, Ravens football, college people (even though they make him feel old), movies, cigars, Thai food, the Middle East. Dislikes: Country music, tomatoes, shrimp, rice crispy treats, and wet socks. Pete believes because we only get one shot at this life we need to figure out what matters and give ourselves to it. Let’s make it count. If you have a problem with this, he challenges you to meet him behind the dumpster after school to fight.

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