If you’re like me, you’ve probably been sitting around watching the Summer Olympics and being amazed by the feats of athleticism. You might even have imagined what would happen to your own body if you attempted a three and a half somersault with a one and a half twist. While it is easy for many of us to recognize how far below the gold medal standard we might be, it is also good to recognize those human universals that we share with every Olympic gold medalist.
The term, “the gold standard” was introduced as an economic term under the Bretton Woods system, whereby the United States of America guaranteed the value of its currency by hording a cache of gold at Fort Knox. In modern usage though, the term is metaphorically used to mean of good quality.
When an athlete wins a gold medal, the standard of performance between gold and silver can be minuscule; down to a one hundredth of a second. And sometimes, it comes down to luck. No one will deny though, that one of the measurements of an athlete’s gold medal standard is their dedication to practice. And apart from the scandal in Olympic badminton where some teams were disqualified for not putting in their best effort, all of the athletes deserve a medal for how much time and energy they put into their performance.
One of the difficulties everyone faces when training, whether it’s fitness training or accent reduction training, is the ability to keep the fires burning in that driving force we call motivation. Here are a few motivational techniques used by our Olympic athletes, that we might all find useful in lighting a fire under our own feet.
1) Visualization: Athletes often visualize themselves crossing the finish line, or standing on the podium. What does your own success look like? If you repeatedly visualize this scenario, it will help you maintain focus on your goals.
2) Habits: We want things that we do repeatedly. While this might explain bad habits as well, such as smoking, it is also worth noting that there really aren’t acts of greatness at the Olympics; these are acts that came from habit. If we form habits that lead us to our goals, we will reach them more effectively.
3) Support: In all the special profiles we see of the athletes, we discover that none of them would have made it that far without the support of their families and communities. It’s impossible to go at it alone. Our own support networks profoundly shape our lives. If the five closest people in your life are all 20 pounds overweight, you can expect your own weight to increase in the next year or so. If the five closest people in your life all start a new sport, you will likely become involved in that sport too in the near future. Surround yourself with people who can support you by having shared goals and you can reach those goals more easily.
4) Recognition: Recognition is easy when it comes from our coach or teammates, but many struggle to give recognition to themselves. It’s easier to compare ourselves to others than to be satisfied with or even aware of those times when we achieve our personal best. Always take time to appreciate the progress you have already made. It’s hard to know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been.
No matter what obstacles we face on our path to success, many can be overcome if we keep up our motivation and determination. While it may be foolish to expect overnight success, don’t let fear lower the bar. One of the biggest ways that people are held back is that they don’t aim high enough. Aim high and work hard so there are no regrets.