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Olympic Losers Win Big, Like All Us Losers Do

Olympic Losers Win Big, Like All Us Losers Do

By now, we all know the story: World Champion gymnast Jordyn Wieber was a heavy favorite to win the women’s individual all-around gold medal in this year’s Olympic games.  But she didn’t win it. She didn’t even medal. Because she didn’t qualify to compete in the first place.

That’s when I started watching.

What a huge disappointment for this young lady—and indeed, she was visibly and understandably upset when the final numbers first appeared. But by the next night, Wieber was jumping out of her seat in the stands to cheer teammate Gabby Douglas to the gold she herself had hoped to take home.

Now that’s where Jordan Wieber’s true mettle shone through.

“It is not in the still calm of life, nor in the repose of a peaceful station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in dealing with difficulties.”

Abigail Adams, to her 17-year-old son as he became US ambassador to Russia

We grow through overcoming adversity and atrophy in contentment. Nonetheless, we love the calm times in life and resist the tough roads.

In losing moments, keep an eye on your team. How do they handle it? How do they respond when falling short of a goal? Understand that, and you’ll understand what they’re made of.

Gifted athletes, doctors, financiers…they’re a joy to watch. But has their gift robbed them of the fiber that’s built by defeat? How will they handle the storm when it arrives?

A sailboat analogy comes to mind: You go out in your sailboat one day with some good friends, a cooler of beer, and a gentle breeze. Everyone has a ball. It’s a perfect outing. You all return to port happy.

The next week, you set sail with the same boat and the same crew (and the same cooler). But you run into a gale. You almost lose your mast, 2 passengers barely avoid going overboard, and your sails rip to pieces. When you arrive in port, no one has had fun, some are injured, your boat is damaged, and you are relieved. You might not be happy, but you’ve learned a lot about your boat, your crew, and your own capabilities as a captain.

Who on your team would make a good first mate in the storm? I, for one, wouldn’t mind having Jordyn Wieber on board.

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