LIFE LESSONS FROM LONDON 2012: DEFINING SUCCESS (Pt. 2)

The Olympic Games have attracted millions of international sports enthusiasts into London. Some came to participate in the games, some to cheer the athletes, some as support mechanisms for the competing teams while others came to enjoy the thrills of the games. The fever that accompanies the games in itself is scintillating and exhilarating

Great as it is to get entertained by sports and events, it is important to observe certain trends especially those that are repeated in success stories.

Success in the Olympic Games, as it is in life, doesn’t come cheap. Neither does it happen by accident. Success is planned and executed. Sustained success on the other hand takes time and concerted efforts.

In listening to the relay race champions, a message that resonated throughout their conversations was on how each ran his/her own race. In the words of Sanya Richards-Ross and Jessica Ennis of the UK, “I just ran my own race and gave it my best”. Each of the athletes attested to focusing on the task at hand and running their own races.

It’s interesting that none of them spoke of checking if a competitor was in the right shape or form. There was no discussion of getting out to the tracks to monitor the performances from the other person; it was all about focusing on individual targets, on the task ahead and running a personal race.

A great lesson for achieving success is taking the time and efforts to define what success is to you. In that way, you can align yourself in the right track for reaching the standard that you have set. Success to me should not be what my friends define it to be and not what society dictates. Okay, let me put it this way: your life is all about you first before anybody else. Your personal desires, dreams and aspirations matter more than what other people consider as being important for you. Many a young person would excel in life if they understand this principle without being selfish and self-centred. The truth is that you can never attain your maximum potentials if others dictate your race in life without putting you, the main subject, at the centre.

This reminds me of the British Lawrence Clarke who came fourth in the men’s 110m hurdles race. On facing the cameras, he said that his target was reaching the semi-finals of the competition. He surpassed his own target not only by reaching the finals but by winning in the fourth position. The pleasure Lawrence expressed at his performance could be mistaken for that of an athlete who won the gold medal. That’s what I am talking about when I say to define what success is to you and you only. To Lawrence, success was reaching the semi-finals while to the former defending champion of the 110m hurdles race, success was retaining the title; which unfortunately was lost to the American sprinter.

Something else to note is to run one’s personal race. Don’t run the race of your siblings or that of your best friend. It’s important to discover one’s area of strength and to build on it. The fastest man in the world today, Usain Bolt will be considered a failure if he attempted running the 10,000mm race where Mo Farah excelled brilliantly. Sanya Richards Ross might be deemed mediocre if she focused on the heptathlon competitions where Jessica Ennis sparkled brightly like a piece of finely polished diamond. For Sanya, the women’s 400m races have proven to bring out her best while she struggles in the shorter races. It was therefore not a wonder that she won bronze in the 400m at the 2008 Olympics, gold at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin and finally gold in London 2012.

I imagine what the world of sports would have made of Serena Williams if she tried running in Christine Ohuruogu’s shoes simply because they have similar body builds and complexion. If either of the girls had walked the other’s journey, probably they would have existed as common human beings instead of the world stars that we know them to be. Again, it goes without saying that it is very important to find your own lane and run your best race.

Most importantly, remember that the object of all the exercises is winning. Winning in this regard means attaining your goals. It would be pointless to define success and goals without putting any efforts into achieving them. In sports as well as in life, consistent winnings boost your confidence while constant failures get you to an all-time low. Even though you might not win all the races, it is great to win the significant ones. It is imperative that you set attainable goals at each stage and move up the ladder for tougher goals. This ensures that you attain the short-term, easy-to achieve goals thereby developing self-confidence in the process. That built-up confidence will be an invaluable asset for greater future challenges.

Overall, remember that nothing gigantic starts big.Tiny steps and strides add up to create the bigger picture. Put in all your efforts; stretch yourself beyond the limits until you reach the heights. Then and only then can you look back and say: NO MORE LIMITS.

Olanike Adebayo is an author and freelance writer based in the UK. She runs an educational social enterprise at the same time as being a post-graduate research student in Education, health promotion and International development at the Institute of Education, London. She is also an avid inspirational speaker at various youth/student conferences.

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