Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Golden Lesson From Our Silver Medalist


Hopefully, most Canadians if not most people who own a television, watched Simon Whitfield in his remarkable come-from-behind push to earn a silver medal for Canada. The great thing about watching this (other than national pride) was being lucky enough to catch his interview with CBC's Ron Maclean 2 days later.

If anyone did watch that race, they can relate to something like this...
- 2.5km left in the 10km run to finish the Olympic Distance Triathlon
- Simon Whitfield is about 5m behind the leading pack of 3
- 1 hour, 44 minutes is showing on the clock, do the math and we realize someone is going to crack 1:50, so we have about 4 - 5 minutes left to watch
- no point in sitting down or picking jaw up off of the floor as Simon gets dropped with about 800m to go
- 700m to go, Simon is 20m behind the leaders and we lose faith
- 600m to go, visor is strewn aside and what the...?
- 400m to go, Simon passes the entire group, rounding the 200m turn in fist place
- with less than 100m to go, Simon is passed but still finishes in Silver medal position and is only 5 seconds off of his second Olympic Gold.
- shivers down spine/ hug wife/ high five buddy/ possibly wipe tear

While this may or may not go down as THE Olympic moment for Canadians, it is what happened inside Simon's head that we are here to share today.

"I found myself rationalizing, thinking - well, 4th is okay" recounted Simon.
"I was able to slap myself and realize we were here to win, so I found another level"

That he did. The two great things that Simon brings us here are;
1) we all have the choice to quit. We have voices in our heads that tell us it's okay to quit... but then we have the ability and the choice to ignore that voice and choose greatness. For most of us, this struggle will not play out in the Olympics. It may play out when we decide not to quit our first 10k or marathon. It may play out when we reach down and ignore the temptation to do drugs as a teenager. It may play out when we show up to work when others quit because we have vision and will fight through to be the success others dream of but fail on effort. It may simply be overcoming your temper and deciding to be patient with your spouse that defines a successful marriage versus one filled with drama and fighting.

2) That WE won. Simon actually took the time to name off everyone who he trains with (though he orchestrated the group), he named his coach, trainer, and (as a group) his corporate sponsors. He won a medal in an individual sport, and then took the opportunity to deflect the credit to everyone he felt helped him get there.

That's leadership Simon. That's the kind of story that inspires.
That's the kind of role model we want to hold up as a champion in the time of so many fickle 'all about me' Hollywood spoiled babies.

Good on you Simon! May we apply this lesson in our own life and not settle for easy, or allow our own justifications to creep in when the going gets tough.

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