I’ve been watching the Olympics and I love it. Watching the best of the best of each country compete with the best of other countries is fascinating. There are a few interesting things I’ve noticed.
The best truly have the ability to focus on what is at hand. They let the thousands of hours they’ve practiced take over and they just do it. They don’t let the crowds or the pressure get to them. It’s just about the sport. Later, when asked how they did it and what they thought about while doing it, they simply answer something like: I just focused on what I needed to do and that was it. Most said they were not nervous. Interestingly enough, there may have been someone better but that person didn’t have the same focus as the winners, or they let themselves get distracted.
I find this interesting because these athletes are really getting an award for extreme focus and bringing it when it’s most important. I admire their intense focus on the task at hand.
The other thing I find interesting is that the older athletes are more focused on not getting hurt or injured and they may not give it their all as they get older. The teenagers and twenty somethings have no fear about that at all and they just go. I’m thinking of the snowboarders and some of the crazy stunts they perform. After being seriously injured a few months ago, Shawn White said in an interview that he didn’t even recognize himself in the mirror and he was terrified and needed to get over that fear and just focus on the task at hand. And he did just that.
I’ve heard that the brain isn’t fully developed until we reach the age of 25 which is why teenagers make some stupid decisions. I remember doing some stupid things at that age that may have killed me. I wasn’t really thinking I could possibly die. That fear comes with age.
Bode Miller chose not to compete at the 2018 Olympics, and was interviewed a few months ago and asked why. He said he didn’t want to be injured. The interviewer asked if he was really worried about that? Bode said, yes, of course. I could be injured, paralyzed or even die. And after watching the men’s downhill and slalom skiers crash one after another and some being air lifted out….he is right. Bode is actually once of the announcers at this Olympics and he has insight that the other announcers simply don’t have. But in the 2002 Olympics, Bode Miller was good because he didn’t seem to care about that at all. He was called crazy. It’s amazing how well these athletes perform if they are not worried about getting hurt.
It’s clear to me that much of the success of these athletes is mental. They have to mentally be able to control their fears and focus. Most of us can’t do this on a normal day, but imagine if we could? What could we accomplish by overcoming them? It’s fun to think about it.