We love our athletes – the new athletes who become household names and our national treasures who continue to delight us.
They've reached the top of their game through dedication, commitment and an ability to exploit their genetic gifts. The key to their success and their high regard has many parts.
They’ve all been on a journey, across continents from Somalia to England in the case of Mo Farah, from non-league football to Championship winner in the case of Jamie Vardy and from playing golf in sheep pasture in Anglesey to winning the 2016 Masters Golf in the case of Danny Willett. This journey universally follows the champions’ logic of success which boils down to understanding ourselves, having a target with the outcome being success at the highest level, executing a well thought through game plan and ‘signing up’ in a true and fully committed way.
Take comfort that you too are like a champion. Everyone who has ever any kind of success, however small, would have followed the champions’ logic of success. We would have followed it when we learned to walk, when we took exams and when we competed in any sports. We all have a game plan of sorts. Our targets might not be as high as the elite athletes, but we’ll know where we’re going to achieve our success, whatever that may be. Whilst their journey may be longer than ours, travelling to greater heights and doing it with mental toughness and dogged determination, we too will be on our own journey.
All of the athletes will know themselves inside out. It’s likely that they will have undergone personality profiling to discover their strengths, of which they will do more of and their weaknesses, which they will remedy. Their understanding of themselves brings a polished performance and a certain comfortableness of character. Knowing ourselves is the most underrated area of anyone’s game plan; we don’t usually give it a second thought.
Elite athletes display values we admire and an attitude that we aspire to. They will have taken ownership, embraced setbacks, taken feedback, proved that persistence is incompatible with failure, believed and, somewhere along the way, made a key decision ‘to cross the Rubicon’. And whilst we all display some the right attitude and wonderful values of our own, it’s our athletes that display them at the very highest levels, on the biggest stages on the planet and in the most pressured crucible of competition.
And we truly want to believe them, that they live their lives in the spirit of the Olympics. When we see them perform, it gives us an opportunity to revel in the good, to get away from the cheats and the emotional vampires, to dash all of those with closed thinking and forget the conspiracies that are aimed to bring down those who soar high and free. It’s also an opportunity show our values in supporting those who we believe in.
One sports fan who knew about values, having passed numerous laws on civil rights as Governor of California and Chief Justice of the United States of America, was the late Earl Warren. He encapsulated our admiration for athletes.
"I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”