Not Letting it Slide

The Olympics have just ended.  It’s been so much fun watching the games that I’m kind of bummed they’ve drawn to a close.  Events like this always have amazing stories attached to them, stories of triumph over unbelievable odds, athletes that have toiled in obscurity for years that excel at the precise moment in time, goals that fall short of achieving them.  Early on in the games, the men’s half pipe was on.  I’m not a snow boarder, I’ve never tried it as I was bit too old when the skateboarding phenomenon hit and then the evolution of it to snowboarding.  I’m a skier from way back.  Someday I’d like to try snowboarding but that’s in the future.  But I love the feeling of the participants, the zen of the whole community.  It seems to be very encouraging to all it’s members, even while maintaining a competitive edge.

So I’m watching the men’s half pipe and Shawn White is coming up in the rotation.  He’s at the top of the leader board and the guy that has the best shot at catching him in the points just missed his landing.  His points won’t add up to enough to take the gold.  The camera’s flash to Shawn at the top of the pipe and he and his team realize he’s won the gold.  He pretty much could scootch down on his bum at this point and still win the gold medal.  Instead he decides to do a trick that’s never been done in competition.  A trick that will once again push his sport forward to the bleeding edge of innovation.  And he nails it.  His performance for that entire run was flawless.  He could have let it slide, played it safe as the win was in the bag.  But that wouldn’t satisfy an innovator such as he is.  This was a chance for him to pull out a show stopping move that wowed everyone watching.

It’s easy to play it safe, just phone it in.  But breakthroughs and innovation never occur when you play it safe.  Just when you feel it’s in the bag, that’s the exact moment you pull out a Double McTwist 1260 and nail it.  Watch how it changes you.

Olympic Dreams

I live in a city that was almost the host of the 2016 Olympics.  We were THAT close to having the world come to our doorstep to see how amazing our town was.  Unfortunately we were not selected today.  I have mixed emotions about the non-selection, immense pride at being one of the final 4 cities, embarrassment at having been knocked out first (really?  we are despised that much?!) and relief because I’ve lived in this “city that works you over” for a long time and I know how ripe the situation was for graft and corruption.  But through it all, I have one overriding thought, at least we tried and we gave it our all.  If we never would have even made a sincere attempt, we never would have made it to Copenhagen because they don’t let dilettantes and pretenders that far into the process.  It was a good effort, one that we can look back on with satisfaction that no stone was left unturned, no question left unanswered, it just wasn’t our time.  Too many slights and old wounds still healing in the world.  There will come another attempt, perhaps by Chicago, perhaps by another US city, that will be more successful.  But we can not feel any shame or remorse for having tried and failed.  The motto of the Special Olympics points to the honor of trying “Let me win but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt”.  And if we had never attempted, we fail before we start.

Giving everything you have to an endeavor is the highest achievement any person can accomplish.  Trying in the face of overwhelming odds is the apex of courage.  Something to keep in mind even when failure seems to be the only consistent and summoning the strength to try again and again seems unattainable.  I’m not one to litter these posts with multiple quotes but I have to include this one from Teddy Roosevelt which is one of my favorites and always brings a lump to my throat “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.”

We’ll get ’em next time.