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5 Lessons We Can All Learn from the Olympics

This past month, all eyes were on the Olympic games in Rio. It was truly inspiring to see some of the greatest athletes on Earth take to the biggest stage in the world to compete in their respective fields.

During the games, we loved rooting for our country and being amazed at the athletes’ unyielding determination to come out on top. To compete in the Olympics, you can’t just be another athlete. It takes a special amount of skill, endurance, and greatness to compete on the Olympic level. This year, we witnessed some of that greatness, plus more.

From the jaw-dropping moments from some of the greats like Simone Biles, Nia Ali, and Allyson Felix, we experienced some of the best achievements in the history of the Olympics.

Even more, there is so much that can be learned from the Olympians that can be applied to work or in business. Here are five things that we can learn and apply to our life.

1) Winners don’t compete with others, but they work hard to become a better version of themselves

After winning the individual gold in the women’s gymnastics all-around, Simone Biles declared, “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”

Too often, we focus too much of our attention on other people, trying to live up to what they have accomplished in life or in their career. When we do this, we become obsessed and soon we know more about them and their skills than we know about ourselves.

While it is smart to study other people to learn from them, it’s wiser to self-reflect and study yourself so that you can determine how to become a better version of you. Instead of spending most of your time studying other people and dreaming to reach what they have, focus on becoming the best version of you and your own blessings will flow through.

2) Every competitor is not your enemy.

In an interview with HerCampus after the games, Gabby Douglas was asked to share her thoughts on competing with friends. Gabby exclaimed, “Competing with my best friends is amazing. We always have each other’s backs. Fall or make it, we are still there for each other and encourage each other along the way.”

This year Gabby didn’t do as well as her fans and the world imagined, and because her facial expressions were not ideal to some viewers when her competition won, the social media trolls were out to get her. Despite the haters, Gabby’s commentary to HerCampus on competing with friends is a perfect example of how we should focus more on uplifting others in business rather than bringing them down. There is enough money and success in the world for everyone to get a piece of, so there is no point in tearing people down the moment you realize they are competition.

3) Every failure isn’t a total loss. Sometimes it’s a lesson learned or blessing in disguise.

After losing the gold in the 400-meter dash to Shaunae Miller, Allyson Felix admitted to reporters, “I think I should have been a bit more aggressive,” she says. “I might have let it get a bit away from me.”

However, despite losing the gold, Felix still became a winner. Felix’s 49.51-second finish earned her a silver medal, adding more weight to her medal collection, thus making her the most decorated woman in American track-and-field history. In our own lives, we cannot let losses get the best of us. Sometimes when certain doors don’t open, or we don’t get that specific job, greater things will come our way. In the beginning we may not realize it, but we are destined for better. We just have to trust the process and not give up when things don’t go our way.

4) You can still be great, even when the odds are stacked up against you.

Nia Ali had a long journey before she won the silver medal in the 100m hurdles. In a post-race conference, she described her journey saying, “I knew it was going to be a difficult road back,” she said referencing time taken off for her life as a mom. “I see a lot of mothers out here daily and they just struggle to just get their body back or appreciate themselves again just because they feel so different and they look so different. So I’m happy that I was able to come back so quickly and show people that not only can I get fit but I can get back to world-class performances.”

In life, sometimes unexpected things may happen like a job loss, health issues, or a death in a family. When this happens, sometimes we let it get the best of us, instead of learning and growing from it. Similar to Nia, when you experience things in life that may take you down a slightly different path, you cannot let it steal your dreams or steer you away from your goals. You have to keep working hard and keep performing at a high level, so that you can reach your desired achievements.

5) Sometimes the most unexpected choices will get you a win.

The entire world stopped when Shaunae Miller won the 400-meter final, beating Allyson Felix by a mere .07 seconds. Some critics say she purposefully dived across the finish line, and some say she stumbled. Either way, Miss Shaunae astounded the world with her win.

In our professional lives, sometimes we are put in situations where the unexpected happens. It’s in those spontaneous moments that we learn the most about ourselves and sometimes we come out on top. Even when our goals seem out of touch, we have to remain faithful. And if you are lucky like Shaunae, you may get the gold on the way.