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Life Lessons from Extra “Ordinary” Olympic Heroes

26 August 2021 by Ziggy de Boe Agnew
Life Lessons from Extra Ordinary Olympic Heroes

​As the dust settles on another Olympics it has given us time to look back and reflect on the success of Ireland and its athletes. After a year of uncertainty about whether or not these Olympic games in Tokyo would go ahead, we really can be glad that they did. We are well used to being the David to many other nations Goliath in the sporting world but once again we have managed to triumph on the biggest stage.

To just reach an Olympics is an achievement hard to imagine for many people but I think what makes it even more special is that many of our athletes will be colleagues, friends, family, or members of their community. The idea that your neighbour is going to compete alongside some of the most famous athletes in the world and potentially bring home a medal is what makes the Olympics the Olympics.

This Tokyo Olympics has been one of the most successful games ever for Ireland on the medal front, but I think they did so much more during these games. We can only speak for ourselves, but I think a lot of people would agree that it was the manner in which these athletes held themselves throughout is what made you feel proud to be Irish.

We have seen first-hand what some of the athletes competing have gone through to reach the heights they have and it gives you a great insight into what it takes to reach that level. The sacrifices that are required to reach that level seep into all aspects of your life and if you can make it out the other side you reap the rewards. I think everything we saw our athletes do, from the bow at the opening ceremony to countless interviews where they bared it all, they gave everyone watching a lesson on how to handle themselves not just as athletes but as a person. So many of these lessons can be applied to all aspects of life whether that be at home or at work, but it solidified our belief that elite athletes provide you with experience that is hard to match from any other field. We tried to put a list together below of some of the lessons we took from these Olympic games.

1. Dream Big

Reaching the Olympics is such an incredible achievement that no one will ever be able to take it away from you but if you listened to any Irish athlete they weren’t there to make up numbers, they wanted to compete for medals. They all dare to dream big, not to just reach the Olympics but to be standing on the podium at the end of it.

We think that is so important to everyday life and especially when it comes to looking for a job. We so often speak to people hesitating to apply for their dream job as they tell themselves they don’t have what it takes to get there, backing yourself, believing you are good enough, and trusting your talents is such a key factor when applying for a new job

2. Be Prepared

Like any of the athletes who reached and competed at these Olympics the preparation that comes with means no detail can be left to chance. You must train, study and learn to be ready for any situation that might come at you during your event.

To be successful in any application or job you must be prepared to deal with a multitude of problems that might arise each day. No matter how big or small you think the task at hand might be, it is important that you are prepared to face it and give 100% of yourself to make it a success.

3. Enjoy the Journey

We speak of all these things having never trained or ever reached the level that these athletes have gone to, but what really stuck out to me was the joy they talked about in the journey it took to reach these Olympic games in Tokyo. Even with all the talk of it being cancelled, not knowing if it is going to go ahead, having to change training schedules to try and keep up with the ever-changing landscape of these games, they all speak of the joy of being able to compete in their sport, taking all the highs and lows that come with it. For some this was the end of their journey, for others it was only the beginning but what can’t be denied was the pride and joy they spoke with of where they are or where they are going.

If we are being honest, throughout our careers we are going to have roles we love and roles we hate. There will be the lucky few who are forever happy in roles or companies and that is great as well but we think it is important you try to look at all through the right lens, like these athletes, who take the good with the bad. They will all provide you with the experience to know what you enjoy and what you don't, ultimately showing you what path is best for you and be able to enjoy the destination that little bit more.

4. Trust your plan

For many athletes, the key to their success is how they plan to execute their goals in front of them. It is not as easy as saying I want to get to here without first figuring out the roadmap on how to get to the destination you want. Whether in sport that be through training plans, getting your nutrition right, or deciding what coach is most suited to you. Similarly in the workplace, you’ll have to realise that not all days are the same but you need to trust that the plan you have set out is the right one to get you where you might like to go.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help in your job whether that be to a mentor, a friend, or a colleague, if you have surrounded yourself with the right people who are committed to helping you it can take the pressure off when implementing your plan. Just as an athlete understands what is achievable with the right plan, so should you in your workplace.

5. Stay focused

Kellie Harrington spoke about how important it was that she didn’t lose control and stayed focused even though she was down after the first round. That ability to stay calm under pressure stood to her as she knew that if she could maintain focus on the task at hand she would win the fight and the gold medal. That skill to be under such pressure or to even fall behind and continue with your execution is something to strive for.

It is easily done to get distracted or fall behind on what you want to achieve in sport or in the workplace, but it is that ability to ride the wave even with outside distractions knowing that you are capable of staying focused on what you are trying to achieve.

There are so many other lessons that you could take from the athletes who were competing at these Olympic games and think this year as much as any we had so much to be proud of from our athletes. Not just on the medal count but in showing everyone their grace and class in victory or defeat.

We are very excited to see what the future lies for these athletes out on the playing field, in the community, or back into the workforce.

If you are thinking of a career change, assessing your options, or need any advice on what your next steps should be please feel free to reach out at the below.

Want to talk about MA Sports? Contact: z.deboe@masonalexander.ie

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