Listening to the radio today I heard a former Olympic Athlete say that being an Olympian in training is much easier than living a normal life. Unfortunately I don’t know the exact quote or even who said it, because both kids were yelling at the time. His point though was not to belittle the effort put in by the athletes but to say that a life consumed by training is straightforward compared to what the rest of us have to deal with. You get up, you train, you compete. You have a goal, targets, schedules.
It got me thinking.
Firstly, we shouldn’t underestimate how much effort we put into our own lives, even if we aren’t winning medals. Spending 14 hours a day reasoning with toddlers may be just as gruelling in its own way as spending that time on a bike, but without the ultimate recognition, (or a cool uniform or sponsorship freebies!)
The second thing I decided was actually we do have it easier, because our life doesn’t come down to tiny moments. Kristian Thomas missed a bronze medal because he made a tiny mistake on the vault. Four years of effort came down to four minutes of brilliance and a heartbreak of a tumble. How many of us, faced with that, would bring out our best?
As a result of my musings I decided that two things are essential:
We should strive, every day, to be the best we can be at that moment. Not the best there is, but the best we can be at that time, on that day. When I’m about ready to put both kids in nursery and go back to work full time just to be able to pee on my own, I try to find something to make it better. Choosing to giggle instead of shout. It doesn’t always happen, but if there is one more laugh and one less bellow in a day that’s a success I should be proud of.
The other thing I think, to do with writing, is that targets are important. Whether it’s Nanowrimo, the WFMAD (Write Fifteen Minutes a Day) challenge or a self-imposed publishing deadline. The human race often performs its best under extreme pressure. You don’t have to be a sixteen-year-old Chinese girl to find that out.
I watch the Olympics and I know I could never train that hard or be that good at rowing or swimming or gymnastics. But if I strive each day to inspire and be inspired in my own areas of influence, then maybe I, too, can be a champion.