Tenths of seconds – could you achieve that way?

Tenths of seconds – that’s what it takes to achieve – in the Olympics!  Can you imagine what a tenth of a second is?  Most people can’t. 

If you have a watch with a hand which moves on the second, have a look at how fast that is – it’s fast – as fast as saying 1/1000th – now imagine cutting that down to 1/10th – seems almost impossible doesn’t it? 

Yet, to get to the podium, that’s all it takes – tenths of seconds to make the difference between a medal or not. 

And it takes a good day or a bad day – a mistake – one mistake and it can cost you – imagine having a great year, winning lots of races and, on Olympic day, you make a mistake!  Imagine!  All year, you’ve been winning and at the Olympics you don’t get even a bronze because you made one mistake! 

Thank our lucky stars that the rest of life doesn’t imitate sport.  We don’t have to live in terms of tenths of seconds and we have can make mistakes without it costing us, most of the time, our lives, our livelihoods, our wins.  But we can learn from watching these athletes how fast time does go – and fast a life can change!

What’s so thought provoking about the Olympics is that we see life’s triumphs and tribulations on the screen instantly.  We see tears and jumps of joy.  We see the impossible and the predictions of glory killed in one fell swoop.  We become very conscious of time as it ticks away ever so quickly towards gold! 

Take your inspiration from these Olympic athletes – years of hard work, tons of money and energy expended and all it takes is a mistake and a few tenths of a second to decide whether an athlete achieves medal status or not – but . . . win or lose, none of them regret the experiences, the learning, the challenges, and the journey – and likely that’s the most important lesson of all – all of life’s experiences are important whether we describe them as good or bad – it’s all good!




One of the very best places to watch time management in action is at the Olympics.  It’s instant.

Time, timing, strategy, and speed are the name of the game in the Olympics.  It takes more than a strong body and years of training – it takes mental agility to assess the field while in competition and decide how and when to make a crucial move.   Make a mistake and you’re out.  Complete the right strategy at the right time, you win!

Time management is most evident in sports such as speedskating and snowboarding.

I’ve watched several speedskating events both short and long track.  Speedskating seems to have the most occurrences of timing strategy – it’s truly part of that sport.  Some lead.  Some stay back.  They jockey for position and, during the last lap, lots of action!  The leaders sometimes move further ahead or sometimes back.  Those in the middle move ahead and sometimes those in the back just zoom to the front.  And it’s all based on whom they are competing against and the length of the skate.  It’s amazing to watch these strategies in action.  It’s all in the timing!

In the finals of Men’s Snowboarding Cross, the Canadian Robertson was leading.  Behind him, defending his title, the American Westcott.  It looked like a sure win for the Canadian but . . . . near the end of the track, the American sped up and won gold.  Westcott stayed back, took the opportunity to gain speed and, at the last minute, passed Robertson.  As a spectator, it was incredible to watch such a timing strategy played out.

Time management can produce some amazing results!

What do the Olympics Teach us about Goal Settting?

Goals – what do they mean?  How many years have we had formulas for setting goals?  What was the message?  How can we understand goals when we view the Olympics?

The underlying message with setting goals was this:  set the goals according to a set formula, work the goals and you’ll achieve them – all of them – you’ll have the success you desire!

Personally, I questioned the goal setting exercises and formulas?  Why?  Because what I saw in the world was this:

  • people who never set goals and achieved a great deal
  • people who set goals and achieved some
  • people who didn’t know what a goal or goal system was and yet achieved a satisfying life

I worked with seniors for five years and had some good chats with many of them.  I learned from some of them, the dreams they had when they were young and learned that most of them never really got to live their dreams.  Why?  Social norms, wars, parental pressures, illness, death in the family, lack of money, luck, etc.  Others achieved way beyond what they could ever dream.  Why?  Met the right people for all the wrong reaons, luck, family ties and connections, monetary resources readily available, good health, etc. 

Did you ever notice that when someone achieves success, interviewers ask them if they had a goal.  Sometimes the answer was yes and sometimes they said they achieved more than they could ever imagine. 

I wondered why interviewers  never talked to people who had failed and asked them if their goal was to fail.  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  No one sets out to fail.

Watching the Olympics and interviews with the athletes, all the athletes said they had a goal to get GOLD!  Every single one!  So, then why is it they didn’t? 

Did they fail to set a goal?  Did they fail to work hard to achieve that goal?  Did they not have a plan?  Did they have all the advice and training they required?  Did they make sacrifices?  Did they visualize?  Did they receive psychological training? Did they have the equipment they needed?  Were there facilities for them to practice?  Were there other competitions to win or lose?  Was there money available for them to prepare properly, have the right nutrition, get the right exercises to strengthen their bodies, etc?  The list is endless.

And this exemplifies for us the fallacy that goal setting is a definitive model for achieving what we want in lifethere are no guarantees that with or without goals, a person will achieve what they want out of life.  Everyone has a dream to achieve something.  For some, it materializes.  For others, the majority of the people, it doesn’t. The majority of the athletes will go home without a medal.  One athlete left the Olympics in casket – was that his dream?

At the Olympics, it’s very clear that, despite everyone dreaming, training, working hard, competing, sacrificing, spending money, planning, etc., not everyone gets a gold medal.  As it is for every other goal in life, there are many vying to achieve the same goal – only some will get there.  If everyone could achieve a particular goal, why would anyone dream of achieving it in the first place?  It would just happen.

Life is like that –  not everyone achieves the goals they set or live their dreams.  Why?  Because, as in sports, there are a multitude of factors including unforeseen obstacles to derail your dreams, people who have better luck than you, people who intentionally or unintentionally knock you out of contention, or events which impact your ability to reach your objective.

Should we set goals?  We all do.  Whether we formalize them on paper or not, we all have dreams.  Some of us will achieve all of our dreams, others something else entirely and for the majority, some goals some of the time.  

Is it still a good idea to go through goal processes and exercises?  I think it is if only to clarify what you really want and set realistic expectations of what is and is not possible.  Perhaps the goal of settings goals should be:  setting realistic expectations based on our strenghts and on the factors which will help or hinder us from getting what we want.   

Can the impossible be achieved?  Of course but a multitude of factors have to come together at just the right time, in the right circumstances, with the right people and mesh like no other – is that a goal?  Of course not. We can only control what we can control – everything else is unpredictable.  Calculating the odds of attaining what we want is probably a better plan!  

The Olympics can teach us a great deal about goals, about our attitudes towards not achieving the ultimate goal and about what’s really important – to live the best life we can – it won’t be for many as we had imagined – it could be better – it could be worse – it is what it is!  

How will we live the best life we can with what is available to us?

How Many of Us Would Work Hard for 4 Years for 23 second-chance to Shine?

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