Reaching The Pinnacle

The Winter Olympics have come to a close, and once I again I was amazed at the athleticism of the participants. Aside from their world class talents, I love the personal stories – and not the typical ones about families or other adversity (although those are great) – but I found myself more interested in when these heroes found a passionate interest in their sport, and the road that followed that brought them to elite status.


U.S. sledder Noelle Pikus-Pace jumps on the podium in Sochi after medaling in the skeleton event. Credit: Associated Press

While these Olympians are gifted with physical skill that they have depended on from the beginning, I’m more drawn to the chronicles of their desire to be the best in the world at something. These are the stories I can relate to most.

When you find something you really love to do, how much do you actually commit to it? Think about your childhood dreams and how you answered the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” along with the potential strengths and tendencies you believed you had and could relate to a future occupation.

If you’re not entirely happy with your career life, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you out there practicing every day, regardless of how much you don’t want to drag yourself up out of bed, determined to be the best?
  • Have you become so driven and persistent that you’re willing to sacrifice your personal life for a period of time because you love what you do or want to achieve so much?
  • Regardless of how many times you fall, do you get up?
  • Do you continue to learn, never accepting the status quo and always search for the next tool that can make you better or stronger?
  • Do you have a support system – those people around you that encourage you to follow your dream?

And, my personal favorite…

  • Do you have a coach? That person outside of your family that pushes you, that is realistic with you, motivating to you, and tough when it’s needed? A mentor that focuses on making you the best and keeps you on track toward obtaining that ultimate goal?

I fear that the elite are the elite for one specific reason: most people don’t want to dedicate themselves to the potential greatness that’s possible within their chosen field. It takes a ton of hard work to achieve greatness, even with the acknowledgment that the rewards can be plentiful.

It’s funny. I can’t remember the last time I met a successful person that didn’t have the same qualities and commit to being the best in the same way our Olympic heroes do.

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