The summer Olympic Games in full swing in Rio. And, while I don’t have a keen interest in watching, I do find it fascinating how these athletes prepare for the games. In fact, I think there’s something we can all learn from their discipline.
Consider the phrase, “life is a game.” While it’s overused, I think you would agree that life requires skill, experience and perseverance to navigate the unpredictable events that can arise. We can all think of someone can never figure it out. They can’t get out of debt, they can’t keep a job or they can’t seem to go to the grocery store without endless drama. We also know people who have mastered the game of life. They conquer loss and remain upbeat, they countlessly give back, or they always have a smile on their face.
I believe that the principals athletes employ to train for the Olympics could be carried over to how we ‘train’ for life. Athletes in training are told to follow a regime of holistic wellness, which includes preparation and mind & body conditioning. They are instructed to make a schedule and plan ahead, workout consistently, maintain a healthy diet, train their mind to focus, and get adequate sleep. Many also meditate to remove stress that can wear on the body.
I can personally attest to better outcomes when I have a plan and I take care of myself. After one workout, alone, I have cleared my head to be able to navigate a day in the life of a business owner. Sometimes, I just need to be in the right mindset to hold a productive meeting or draft a compelling set of content.
I am better prepared to handle challenges that arise, as well. Technology fails or sudden social media changes are not uncommon and they are cause for frequent frustration. But, if I’m rested and feeling good mentally and physically, I find that I’m more apt to deal with and recover from daily challenges.
Likewise, when my Mom suddenly became ill in 2010, my world came crashing down. Several months prior, I had made a plan to focus more on the future, eat better and work out. I do not think I could have handled the devastation – and continued to be present for family – if I had not done these things.
Yet, it’s so easy to put ourselves on the back burner. I still struggle with this, specifically when multiple challenges arise, at once, because I am not sure where to start. It becomes overwhelming. But, I have made a commitment to myself to train for life. I am better prepared to compete when I am rested, focused and healthy.
There’s another over-used phrase that comes to mind when thinking about life: ‘whatever doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger.’ I loathe this saying because it implies that we are simply put on this earth to survive. We are stronger than our circumstances. Our strength comes not from survival, but from our ability to play the game.