Reflections from Rio

Take aways from visiting an Olympic training center

Several years ago I had the privilege of visiting an Olympic training center for weight lifters in California.  I was there with a colleague on business and we were looking at different layouts and types of equipment to get ideas for a new training facility for the future.  I will never forget that trip.  It was one of those experiences where you walk away from it and realize you got more than you came for.  Upon arrival, we walked in and a very young athlete about 19 years of age from Romania was lifting some very impressive weight.  I was stunned and amazed at how much weight he was lifting compared to his body size.  His coach greeted us with “He’s 10 kilos off the world record” – not your normal introduction to say the least.  After shaking hands and visiting for a while, his coach goes on to talk about what you need to win a medal in the Olympics.  Here are the four things he said to me that day:  

  1. A great coach  
  2. A great program  
  3. A great training facility with great equipment  
  4. No distractions  

Keep in mind; the coach was from the Eastern Bloc countries in Europe where they are known for winning gold medals in weight lifting.  It is part of their culture in sports – it’s how they live their lives.  He went on to elaborate why a lot of athletes in the USA never can go on to become great and make it to the Olympics – they have too many distractions.  There are numerous athletes in the US capable of making it.  They have the first three criteria, but it is the fourth one that derails them from reaching their dreams of becoming an Olympian.  As I watched the Olympics this past summer, I reflected back on that conversation with him.  How many athletes did not make it to Rio that just could not keep their focus?  How did the athletes that medaled keep from being distracted so they could stand on the podium and represent their country?  I realized how right he was.  We have so many distractions in our lives.  Today it is harder to focus for an extended period of time more than ever in the history of the world.  We are surrounded by distractions.  Those of us who really want to win not only in sports, but also in life will need to remove the distractions.  Just like the smallest margins between gold and silver medals in Rio, distractions can be the smallest difference maker in your life of either succeeding or failing.  My encouragement to you is don’t just layout a plan for winning, but also come up with a plan for how you will focus!  Remove all distractions – it will be the difference maker.

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