What a ride the olympics has been! Team GB’s medal haul has given us all a much needed lift. It’s amazing how our individual psyche is affected by the national mood, whether we are community minded or not. I have been truly impressed by the individual stories of dedication, effort, practice, motivation and team work. So many of us give up so easily nowadays and its wonderful to hear stories of people becoming triumphant after injury, illness and loss.
I do feel for the shy participants who just want to perform and then recover privately yet every moment is observed and recorded. Some seem so dazed afterwards – whether on a high or a low – that they are not sure how they feel and struggle to explain it. They need to go into such a private psychological space to believe they can win and yet we expect them to talk about their events as though they are observers like us. Being on the inside must be incredible but not something us non medal winners can ever experience.
And what is it about expectations. There are tables equating so much money spent with so many medals. But what about human error and vulnerabilities? Haven’t we noticed how wrong our predictions often are across so many different sporting events? Human beings are not machines and a slight change in the wind …can have a big effect on the outcome. Not only did we have expectations but as these were being surpassed during the games we kept expecting more so the pleasure for the single achievement was less. How could you not get a medal if everyone else you trained with got one? And suddenly, for some, silver was not good enough. ?! Sure you want to contribute to the team effort but a medal, of any metal, is a huge achievement.
Expectations can affect us non olympians as well: it seems the better we perform more is expected of us. This may be why some of us – young and old – do not seek to be outstanding in anything because of the pressure to then keep to that standard. We could probably all be brilliant at something. I myself prefer a range of competencies over narrow brilliance but I love to see such incredible feats of brilliance displayed. And how do we encourage participation of ourselves and others even when we are neither competent nor brilliant? Can we put in the effort as beginners even when we feel inadequate?