Most of the athletes marching into the Olympic stadium this weekend will be bringing hopes for a medal. Most have trained rigorously for years, working with coaches and body-builders, training for peak performance. According to an article in Monitor on Psychology (July-August 2012) many athletes also work with sports psychologists who help contestants relax, stay focused and keep control of their racing minds. Undoubtedly these mental coaches also bring encouragement before the events and consolation to those who lose, sometimes by only a fraction of a second.
Olympians are not the only people obsessed with winning. We all understand; at times the stakes are high. But sometimes in the pursuit of a victory, morals, laws, or standards of decency get pushed aside. We see this when football coaches overlook sexual abuse lest this interfere with the team’s winning record and tarnish the university’s reputation. We see this when professional athletes take performance enhancing drugs, politicians build campaigns around character assassination of their opponents, wealthy people try to buy elections, company CEOs break the laws to make more money for shareholders, Christians spread gossip about fellow believers, or researchers distort or hide data to make their products and research look better than they are.
Some who read these words may be people helpers, teachers building into the lives of their students, life or business coaches helping others shape their careers, relationships or companies. We don’t get medals for this, often nobody even notices. But ultimately is anything more fulfilling than building into the lives of others, bringing encouragement, hope and guidance?
I’ve spent many years building products: books, resources, academic programs, organizations, speeches, newsletter/blogs, my own career. Throughout I’ve tried to take the high road, respecting others along the way, maintaining integrity and ethical standards, not overlooking my family, determined to do what God has called me to do. Without doubt most who read these words are on similar journeys. I’m not quitting but I see myself shifting to more focus on people-building. It’s always been there but maybe more in this stage of my life.
What or who are you building? What makes this a winner for you, even if you never get a gold medal? Please comment.