One week out from the Games, Steve, Phil, Kerri and I had a discussion about our motivation. Things didn’t feel right. It’s hard to explain, but we were so narrowly focussed on winning that we seemed to lack passion; we forgot to smell the roses. After all, we were in our home country and representing it at the Olympic games! Somehow, on top of all the other strategies for success that we’d been practicing, we needed to renew ourselves; to build on our foundations. Author Stephen Covey calls it “sharpening the saw”. He believes that no matter how successful we become at reaching personal and professional goals, it can all come to nothing if we don’t constantly renew ourselves.
I like the following quote from Cromwell: “He who stops being better stops being good”. That says it all, and it probably explains something of where we were at the time. You can focus so hard on something that you become a ‘closed system’. In other words, you forget about opening yourself up to all those other influences that you should be deliberately seeking; influences that help you to be better. Steve pointed out that the key was to have fun; to enjoy the entire experience of the Games, not just the anticipation of winning. Everybody needs reminding of that at some stage.
We were very fortunate in Sydney in that we had plenty of legends around us who wanted to help out with wisdom gained from their experience. So I was ready to receive the words of Peter Brock, who said “Love what you do, and stay focused”. It was the first part of that equation we had to concentrate on. I made sure to order tickets to as many events as I possibly could. We also got into the Aussie mood of things as often as possible. There were the sing-alongs organised by the unique Laurie Lawrence, the barbeques, and a song called Rise, sung by Marcia Hines, that really vibrated with everything Kerri and I were thinking and feeling at the time.
But I had a few other issues to overcome as well. With six days to go I still wasn’t feeling great physically. I felt slow, uncoordinated, and my body hurt. I had failed to get opening-ceremony tickets for my family, so I was disappointed as I wanted my family to enjoy as much of the Games as possible. In fact, I had failed to get most of the tickets I had ordered. Phil organised for Steve to talk to me, and they reminded me of the importance of flexibility— the fact that champions rarely ever operate under perfect circumstances. Overcoming imperfect circumstances is what makes them champions in the first place. It was true, but took me a little while to digest it and get myself on track.
From the Sydney Diary, 9 September 2000:
Trust in the process and enjoy the challenge. In every moment be your best. Because that is your only moment— you will never get that moment back ever again.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Negative emotions can become our ‘friends’. The only way out of it is to recognise the negative feelings we wallow in most frequently, and to consciously choose to say, or do, something positive in their place.
The desire for self-renewal leads us to constantly examine and review our goals as our circumstances change. We need to ask “Am I on track?”
Perfect circumstances never come. The key is to overcome imperfect circumstances.
If we listen to people who have already been there and done that, we don’t always have to learn from our own mistakes. They’ve been made before by others!
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