the Olympics these past two weeks, one thing has become obvious; announcers may make anyone who has perfected a skill but fails to gain a gold medal feel diminished by some standards but everyone who has made it to the games has achieved a personal gold, regardless.People may not remember the the names of the bronze medalists in shot put, the silver medalists in equestrian dressage or even those who narrowly missed the gold in other events. Perhaps there was minimal to no fanfare for those whose posted times, scores and accomplishments were just slightly below the winner but there are many who faced hurdles and obstacles far greater than those in the Olympics and whose gold was in the process not in the winning.
Steve Lopez participated in his taekwondo event with a broken leg. Josefa Idem from Italy made history by being the first woman to attend 8, yes EIGHT Olympics. At 47, the femal kayaker reported age didn't matter as, "...the stopwatch doesn't ask."
The drive for gold led to some being disqualified like Italian race walker Alex Schwazer who admitted to using the performance-enhancing drug EPO because he felt pressure to win a second straight 50-kilometer walk gold medal. He later sobbed on national television, saying he wanted the gold "at all costs."
Some, like Sarah Attar, who finished last in the 800 meter track competition had a far different statement to make. She was the first Saudi woman to ever compete in the event and her time or finishing position hardly mattered as much as the opportunity. And certainly the athletes from Cameroon and Sudan who dismissed the chance to get their gold at the games, sought it instead in escaping the venue attempting to obtain political asylum.
Yes, there were amazing athletes, some who will forever be known as the first to break a record in their event. Several will see their pictures grace the covers of national and international magazines, receive offers to promote numerous products and be spokesmen and women for countless organizations. Their lives will change because of their abilities but even those who "failed" to be champions will gain something they didn't have when the Olympics began. Each one will get the opportunity to say, "I did it!" Each will have had the chance to give their dream a shot even if their ultimate dream was to escape an intolerable situation or be the first to participate in an event.
Life is much like the Olympics. People with exceptional skill and talent often make it to the top and become wildly famous and successful, but just as many "unknowns" will go down in history for being the first to try something new and different. Many "unknowns" became the Steve Job's, Mother Teresa's, Stephen Spielberg's and Sandra Day O'Connors. Even more became those who ran a business, championed a cause, began a grass roots organization or volunteered to make the world better.
Your face may never be on a cereal box and you may never be asked to be a guest on a well known TV show, but gold is in the process not always in the outcome. Whether you start a business that cannot be sustained, complete a project for self gratification, write a book few read, go back to school, return to the workforce or just get to the gym regularly; gold is in the commitment to get started and try. Sometimes you will succeed and reach your goal. Sometimes your goal might be diverted for a better reason and sometimes you may come up short. But, like the Olympians, you will be able to say you tried .
We live in a competitive age and unforgiving society in terms of accepting loss or applauding second best and yet, I would rather be known for trying something I wanted to try and not being successful than in regretting I never went after my dreams. What about you?
If you are worried your idea is not yet good enough, your skill not yet perfect enough, your cause not yet large enough because someone has told you the competition is tough and you are not ready? EVERYONE is ready to try something. Our human spirit makes us ready. If a paraplegic can run a race with others with two good legs, you are ready to try something you really want in your heart.
It is in the trying that you become better; in the mistakes that you learn new strategies, in the obstacles that you find your character and in the outcomes that you learn much about yourself you would never have known had you never tried.
Now, what do you need to just start so you can find your "gold" and say, "I did it!"? Your victory is waiting. Because you can't win until you begin.