As the Olympics have come to a close and I reflect on every minute of the competition I watched, and read about, I can’t help but think that the Olympians who garnered international attention are the epitome of competing to succeed. In fact, while hearing and watching the back stories of these world class athletes, it is impossible to walk away with anything but admiration for them and the families they represent. There is so much sacrifice and rehearsal that went into the 75 second performances, 9.8 second races, or 4 second dives that we saw on television. We as parents can learn from the attitudes of these champions.
In order for our children to succeed, it will take sacrifice. I don’t know a parent out there who would say they have not sacrificed something for their child. It may be a career, a new pair of shoes, or a good night sleep. Regardless of the magnitude, it is a sacrifice all the same. So how do we transfer that same concept to our children? How can we as parents show our children that success and excellence does not come without sacrifice? Perhaps it is missing a birthday party to put in a few extra hours at the gym or staying up later than normal to complete a science fair project. Whatever it is, we as parents must instill in our children that sacrifice is a part of success. I believe that not requiring our children to sacrifice on some level would be doing them a disservice.
Rehearsal is another critical piece. Our children must understand that very few things are considered excellent after one attempt. Most things that people are good at require rehearsal, practice and deliberate repeated actions. Instilling this in children early can combat the “I give up” attitude. If at an early age children are required to repeat and rehearse, perhaps it will develop the tenacity that is needed to overcome obstacles and obtain achievements later in life. I am sure that Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps did not achieve excellence on the first try. In fact they often talk about the countless hours and “blood, sweat and tears” that helped catapult them to their culminating performances at the Olympics. It is this try and try again attitude that can cause a gymnast to not give up after falling off of a balance beam. It is that sticktoitiveness that allows a 5,000 meter runner to get up after a fall and rejoin the pack. And it is that same fortitude that will allow our children to continue in an honors level class despite earning a less than stellar grade.
All in all, the Olympians experienced ups and downs; and despite some not winning a medal in 2012, they are still deemed successful. As with our children, we have to teach them that there will be some ups and downs in life; however, in the end with sacrifice and resolute persistence they will find success.