10 Lessons I Learned From These Olympic Games (Morning Motivation):

The 2016 Olympics not only entertained us, but taught us some valuable lessons that can be applied to our own lives

Olympic Gold

The 2016 Olympic games in Rio took us through a myriad of emotions, and in the process, the performance of the athletes, on and off the field of play, taught us some valuable lessons that can be applied to our own lives. With the closing ceremony happening last night, here are the 10 things I learned from the 2016 Rio Olympic games:

1. Michael Phelps: The greatest, most decorated Olympian of all time. What else can be said about him that hasn’t already been written? Despite, in 2012, having by every account a phenomenal Olympics, his silver medal finish in the 200 meter butterfly was something that ate at him. Had he decided to retire at that point, no one would have faulted him and his career would have been rightfully celebrated. But that wasn’t enough for him, so he hunkered down on his training, came back and won the ‘Gold’ in the 200 meter (along with other events).

LESSON: Go out on your own terms. It’s not the outside world who defines your success. It’s your internal barometer that matters.

2. Usain Bolt: The human lightning bolt; the first person to win the 100 meters three straight years. It is well known that Bolt is not the greatest starter in the 100 meters. However his true gift is that he gets faster and can carry his top speed longer.

LESSON: It’s not about how well you start, but rather how strong you finish (shout-out to him completing the triple-triple).

3. Simone Biles: Coming into the Olympics, she was already the most decorated gymnast of all time. Despite her success over the last three years, the one thing she was missing was an Olympic Gold medal. Her Woman’s Individual All Around event was one of the most anticipated events going into the Olympics. That type of pressure could have been overwhelming to most. Not only did she deliver, she confirmed her status as the greatest of all time.

LESSON: Never shy away from the pressure of your destiny. Embrace the moment, put in the work and deliver the only way you can, Flawless! Execute and accomplish!

4. Katie Ledecky: The three time swimmer of the year, already came into these Olympics one of the most accomplished swimmers of all time. So what does she do? She not only beats her competition, she obliterates them. Some of her wins came at 4 lengths meters beyond her competitors. However, that’s not the coolest thing about Ledecky; I love the photo of a young 9 year old Ledecky and an 18 year old Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. She is seen cheesing while he is signing her poster. Little did they know at that time that they both would be considered two of the greatest swimmers of all time.

LESSON: Fulfill your dream, and keep setting the standard.

5. Simone Manuel: The first African-American to win a swim event (100 meter freestyle). The fact that her win came in an event not commonly associated with black women, and to do it in such dramatic fashion (coming from behind), was awesome! But to do it with so much history of black segregation in swimming pools (thus the REAL reason why a generation never knew how to swim), is what made it truly special.

LESSON: Just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. All that means is that there is an opportunity to change the narrative.

6. Jennifer Abel: Sticking with the theme of black women in water, I’m going to go unconventional and highlight a person who placed fourth and thus didn’t medal. This Canadian pulled off a near perfect dive, the announcers thought surely her score was going to be great, as did Jennifer. However when the judges tabulated the score, EVERYONE (including the crowd-based on the murmurs) were shocked. Italy’s Tania Cagnotto received the Bronze and Jennifer went home empty handed. But the reason she made this list, is because immediately after seeing her score, she went over and hugged Ms. Cagnotto. Her level of professionalism and sportsmanship struck me.

LESSON: You’re not always going to win in life or receive the things you have earned. However, it is your grace and humility in your defeat and disappointment that truly shows the world what type of person you are.

7. Mohammed Farah: This 10,000 meter British Olympic champion fell down during the middle of the race, but rather than panic, he jumped right up and eventually pushed himself to the front of the pack to ultimately win the race.

LESSON: In this marathon called life you will tumble, scrape your shoulder, possibly bleed, even fall to the back. However the race is not over yet. Get up! Keep fighting, keep pushing, keep running, and if you do that, you too will come out on top.

8. Wayde van Niekerk: I love a number of things about his story, but before we talk about his record breaking time, let’s talk about his mother. Van Niekerk’s mother Odessa was a talented athlete who competed on a national level, but was barred from international events under South Africa’s apartheid regime of racial segregation, which did not end until 1994. So in a way, he completed his mothers journey/destiny. It was also poetic that he did it from lane 8; a place where sprinters usually go to die. His lane position resembles his story, that despite history telling you no, YOU can say yes. When asked HOW he broke the record from such an impossible position, his response, “Being in Lane 8, I was running blind. I couldn’t see anyone, so I ran scared and I didn’t let up. I kept my foot on the gas and didn’t stop.”

LESSON: Fear can motivate you, if you embrace it and let it fuel your purpose. Furthermore, history is not a barometer of future success, so don’t let your current position and your past situations deter you from your future greatness.

9. Shaunae Miller: This Bahamian sprinter will not only walk away with a Gold medal in the 400 meter sprint, but her finish will resonate in Olympic controversy for a long time. The rule states that, “The first athlete whose torso … reaches the vertical plane of the closest edge of the finish line is the winner.” As a lawyer, I’m okay with the interpretation, as a former collegiate athlete, I can’t deny that it takes away from the ‘spirit’ of competition. With that being said, no one ever said you had to do it the conventional way to win. What she did display is that sometimes in order to win, you’re going to have to do something your opponent won’t. That includes laying it out on the line – in this case literally.

LESSON: Its not always how you finish that’s important. Don’t be afraid to do a bit ‘extra’ to accomplish your goal. It may not be ‘pretty’ or ‘conventional’ to all. But in the end ‘the look of it’ doesn’t matter.

(Speaking of which).

10. Allyson Felix: She already came into Rio as one the most decorated track and field athletes of all time. She was heavily favored to win the 400 meter race, unfortunately because of the actions of the person at #9….she was stunned out of gold. Apparently she laid on the track for the next 20+ minutes-stuck in disbelief and crying. However, despite her devastating loss, she rebounded in a big way and STILL managed to have a fantastic Olympics. Taking home gold, and changing the conversation from what if, too best ever! Collecting as many medals as the great Jackie Joyner Kersey (9 in total).

LESSON: Disappointment happens, that’s life, but you don’t quit on your dream and lose your focus. Take a moment to lay on the track to cry, but once you get up, its time to start running and put your task in front of you, and your mistakes behind you. Keep focused you still have a job to do and a plan to execute.

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