Archive for March, 2010

When the Competition is Least Expecting It…

March 2nd, 2010 by Tom Steitz

Gold for U.S. Nordic Combined - Bill DemongWhether you are an athlete, a corporate executive, or a fledgling entrepreneur, watching the Olympic games demonstrated – over and over again – the power of inspiration, commitment, and following your dreams.

One word that describes what the Olympics are all about: EMOTION.

I have seen athletes celebrate by expressing emotion long held inside.  I’ve seen moms and dads leap for joy and scream their lungs out.  I’ve seen grown men cry and weep like infants.

People I have not spoken with in twenty years have called me and broken into tears.  I’ve had athletes remind me of their Olympic moment (or near miss) more than 25 years ago and they still choke up when telling the story.

The playing fields of the Olympics are truly the sites of some of the most emotional experiences these athletes and their families will ever experience.

I recall one Olympian telling me, six months after the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 in a discussion filled with tears, that he would never allow anything in his life to matter that much again besides his family.  He won gold here in Vancouver!

And so it comes to a close.  We all go back to our day jobs and our day-to-day lives.  The 17 days when the world came together in peace and nearly 100 countries all ate and slept in the same place, comes to an end.  For many Olympians the good and bad moments will be vividly be remembered every day for the rest of their lives.  I know of very few things that matter so much to so many, and I feel privileged to have been part of it again.

I believe that these Olympics have somehow made the world a better place, and given us all more hope and optimism for the future.  Here in Vancouver the games lived up to the slogan that was created for 2010, “Go World!”  Now the torch passes to Russia, and we look forward to Sochi in 2014.

I walk away with “my boys” winning seven Olympic medals!  I can remember when the rest of the world thought the U.S. Nordic Combined Team was a funny joke.  Well, we sure showed them the U.S. team can laugh too – and compete with the best of them.

Still, it’s not the medals I will treasure the most, but the memories of the struggle and triumphs it took to get here.

I feel there is an important lesson for those of us in the business world to take away from these games:  Look what can happen when a team is inspired, goal-oriented, and committed to stay the course, even if the rest of the world is laughing.  When the competition is least expecting it, you may just pass them by.