Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Dreams

I am addicted to the Olympics. I love the competitive spirit of the athletes. I love the drama of the favorites living up to the hype or a complete unknown coming out of nowhere to achieve the ultimate Olympic dream. Heck, I even love the P&G commercial where all the kids are competing and they say "To their moms, they'll always be kids." It gets me every time (and they show it about a gazillion times a night).

I'm not uber-athletic. Sure, I like to be active, but sports have never been my area of excellence. I used to be a competitive swimmer, but I was never champion-caliber. I got first place in a dressage show once and I used to race my brother down the mountain when we were downhill skiing (he won every single time). But an Olympian? That dream was never really on my radar.

But I understand drive. I understand the pursuit of a dream. I get it. I know about doing something in spite of the odds, doing it because you need to push yourself to be more. Chasing down the impossible dream. (Speaking of impossible dreams... weren't those Chinese skaters last night amazing?)

A few nights ago, six time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno said, "Before every day you go to sleep, ask yourself one question: did you do every single thing you could today to make sure that you did your best. It's hard to answer yes, every single day." It is hard to answer yes, whatever your ambition, but I bet when Ohno matched the record for the most decorated speed skater in Olympic history, it was worth every day he was able to say it.

Last summer one of the RWA Golden Heart Contests finalists told me she explained the importance of finaling to her family by likening it to the Olympics - before the pros were allowed in. Amateur excellence. An indicator of who might be going pro soon. An honor, an excitement, and an experience. I like that analogy, because I think aspiring writers are not unlike athletes training for the Games. They both take an alchemy of natural talent, learned skill, and a boat load of dedication and drive.

Maybe it's the Olympics, but I've been thinking a lot about drive and ambition lately. It doesn't matter what your goal is - a gold medal, an Oscar, a slot on a best seller list, a spot on the board of directors or a big status-y house in a fancy neighborhood. Whatever you want, you gotta go for it. It's never too late to start training.

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