Original Thought

The Best and the Not so Best


The Olympics offers us a glimpse into life, patriotism, courage, corruption and perseverance and commitment. There are tragedies, travesties, fairy tales in real time and a whirlwind of metaphors and parables being woven in the ether. I don’t know if I need the official approval of the IOC to even type the O word or some official credential to tell a story or offer my perspective from afar but I will chance it this morning and offer some observations. The words here are generalized and if it sounds like I am stating a fact, well I am likely not.

Let’s begin with the heroism. I admit that I seem to have a need for heroes, especially if they have fallen from grace and had some type of redemption. Prior to the Rio games I wasn’t a fan of Michael Phelps. There wasn’t any animosity or distaste, just ambivalence. His records and performance were impressive but I didn’t cheer for him. This year, his back story and rehabilitation meant something more. A Joseph Campbell hero saga story was crafted by circumstances, agents and media and I found myself rooting for his return to the top of the podium. The conquering hero didn’t disappoint. With all the drama of a James Cameron movie (one in the making?) Michael took on the challengers, heir apparents, and wanna bes. If there is a lesson rather than hype, it might be that we are created to overcome odds and like Von Goethe says we need to be committed.

For Canadians, the new hero, with her own guest in the background, is Penny Oleskiak. Rather than a vanquishing dragon slayer, she is the protagonist with humility. Her medals and individual results don’t overshadow the team she is a part of. As a reluctant hero, she is charming and humble. I suspect that there was some story crafting before the games and some editing and adapting since they started but in her story we see hard work, determination, genetics, and hope. We can all use more of three of those.

There are so many athlete successes from the Refugee Team to the Fijian 7s that speak to what I understand the O to symbolize but tantrums, favoritism, missed opportunity and cowardice have raised their heads too. For me the corrupt action of decision makers in disregarding drug testing reports in order to save face and appease a nation embroiled in the scandal is the antithesis of these symbols.
I struggle to understand how men and women could condone illegal action by athletes and state and still hold the rings high. There has been many suggestions that we should hold Juicer Games where anyone can compete regardless of steroid or HGH or genetic manipulation. Somewhat tongue in cheek, they say they would love to see how fast, high, strong we could be before exploding.

Away from the games Bill Murray offered a better comparison. He would like there to be an average Jane or Joe in every race just so we can actually understand how remarkable these performance are. It would give us pause to realize that 64th in the world is still 10’s of times faster, higher, stronger than most humans on the planet could achieve.

As we move into the track and field, where there is sure to be controversy, I am choosing to stay focused on the best of the games – the athletes, coaches and teams who represent excellence, honesty, fair play and generosity.

Make Today Remarkable, by being inspired,

Self Improvement

Intellegently Intentional

Intentional action builds culture and culture trumps rules every time. If the changes you want in your world aren’t happening, you need to ask “am I acting as if they will, working as if I can move the needle, and am I in the right place with the right people?”
It is easier, quicker and more fun creating a positive culture of work, support, community rather than trying to change a toxic environment. Once the air stinks, no appoint of Febreeze will remove it unless the source of the odour is removed. If you are in a unhealthy or abusive arrangement a work, home or play it is likely that you will need to find an exit strategy to free yourself.
If you feel the air going bad, you can speak up and act out to build a world that works for everyone, including you. The time to build is before it turns sour and then realize that there needs to be constant vigilance in keeping the naysayers and scarcity soothsayers at bay by being honest, transparent, vocal and brave.
There is nothing organic about culture or relationships or community. We need to work hard every day to ensure that ‘happily ever after’ is a reality. That means listening when someone else is speaking, hearing what they are really saying, responding to their statement (not what you want the topic to be), allowing time, seeking clarification, being helpful, being honest, and being brave ( I repeat this here because bravery is in short supply in our world).

There will be tension – that is what gets us past the mediocre. There will be disagreement – that is what challenges and creates teaching moments. There will be insincerity – we are all fallible and insecure. There will be fun – that is bi-product of community that shares. There will be trials – how would we know the victories without some tests. There will be mistakes – awesome. There will not be a silver bullet, magic elixir, Android app that will make the work easy or convenient. If you are ‘in’, be ‘in’ for the long haul. Long isn’t for ever and the changing world we face ensures that everything likely as a much shorter best before date than we originally considered. Don’t take offense or wring your hands when things change and culture shifts or community dissolves. Celebrate the opportunity you have today to be the best communicator, career, challenger, and collaborator you can be – today.  But don’t beat yourself up too badly when you realize that on some (for me many) days you weren’t the best. Tomorrow is a fresh start. Learn from yesterday. Make any amends you need to make early in the fresh start. Rebuild relationships and recommit to understanding and respecting the culture you are swimming in. Step back of necessary and realize that you get to choose/create the atmosphere that you are inhaling and that it can make you wiser, nicer, and better or it can poison you and bring out your ego that wants to control, criticize, and crash the work you are doing.
Perseverance; the ability to commit and execute day after day isn’t easy but know that it is worthwhile. At the end of the day, at the end of our days, or maybe when we live through a great shift, the only thing that will have value is the community and reciprocity it brings. All material objects will wear out, lose value, or cause more grief than glee. Only in the way that we share our gifts in relationship, our concern in compassion and our joy in jubilation will stand the test of time.

Make Today Remarkable, by being intentional,