The Olympics begin soon. They are an exciting example of what athletes can achieve with commitment and years of hard work. We are sometimes awestruck to see a longstanding record broken or when we watch a team or individual recover from what looked like certain defeat. We also might wonder what it feels like to be considered the best in the world as an athlete, to stand on that podium and have the gold medal put around your neck.
During the broadcasts, we hear back stories of determination, focus, and unrelenting effort, day after day, year after year. We also hear stories of personal and family sacrifice — financial stress, injury and rehabilitation, living apart from loved ones, and missing milestones that most young people enjoy. In addition, as we watch coaches being interviewed, we realize that even an individual competition is really a team effort.
In American society we are fond of the “self-made” man (or woman) myth that someone can make it without the help or support of any others. Granted, there are individuals who face huge obstacles and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve personal and public success.
With a deeper look, though, you usually find people in their lives who encouraged and believed in them. It may have been a relative, a teacher, a counselor, a coach, a friend, or a teammate, but someone cared and offered assistance of some sort.
Many factors are important as we follow our chosen path to success, perhaps even to greatness. Much of our progress does depend on our own drive and effort. But while you are patting yourself on the back, think about others who helped you make it “on your own.” Success is always plural.