5 Life Lessons Learned from Canadian Olympians

I loved watching the Olympics over the last two weeks. I was so proud of our Canadian athletes regardless of whether they received a medal or not. I know how much work goes into preparing for the Olympics and just qualifying for them is an achievement.

As I reading more about the Olympians and their stories, I realized that there are so many life lessons we can learn the athletes. Here are some of the life lessons I was reminded of during the 2014 Olympics.

Life Lessons Learned from Canadian Olympians

Surround Yourself with the Best

Chloe Dufour-Lapointe. Photo by John Biehler

Chloe Dufour-Lapointe. Photo by John Biehler

Canada won the Silver and Gold medals in three skiing events as well as a Gold and Bronze medal in Women’s Slopestyle. Two of the medallists were sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe who also competed with their older sister who came in 12th. 19-year-old Justine is the youngest sister and became the youngest freestyle skiing Olympic champion ever.

Speaking of growing up with two older sisters in the sport, Justine said, “I’m in the easiest seat, I saw them make their mistakes or do something really well so I just need to watch them to learn from that.”

By being able to train with the best in their sports, the athletes were able to collectively push each other. In your life, be sure to surround yourself with role-models and like-minded peers. It’s said that you become like the people you are around the most, so you must make a conscious effort to expand your social circle.

Never Under-Estimate Others

The Canadian women’s curling team won Gold and set a record by remaining undefeated throughout the tournament. But even after beating three of strongest teams, Jennifer Jones refused to underestimate the other teams. She said, “I think they’re all tough. You guys get out there and play them.”

The dominant men’s hockey team had to go into overtime against the Latvian team and their underestimation of their opponent may have played a role in the unexpectedly close game.

There are always predictions and medal favorites in the Olympics but time and time again we see upsets and surprises. Everyone competing in the Olympics is among the best in the world and should be considered a medal contender.

In life we may not always have a clear opponent but we must remind ourselves to work hard for everything and not be complacent. We must push ourselves to be the best we can be so we put ourselves in the best position at the right time.

Play to Your Strengths

Denny Morrison. Photo by Onno Kluyt

Denny Morrison. Photo by Onno Kluyt

One of Canada’s medals was only possible due to the selfless act of Gilmore Junio. Junio qualified for the 1,000 metre speedskating final after fellow teammate Denny Morrison fell. But knowing that Morrision had a better chance of winning a medal, Junio gave up his spot allowing Morrison to win a silver medal in the event.

“People talk about it as being a huge sacrifice, but I don’t see it that way,” Junio said. “It was such an easy decision. It was such a simple decision for me. It was about giving Canada a chance to win a medal.”

When we recognize that someone is better suited to an opportunity we should offer them a chance. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t believe in yourself but if you clearly feel that someone has the right skills or talent then you should alert them to the opportunity so that you are free to find opportunities that are best suited to your unique skills. In a company or organization this can lead to everyone winning by having people in positions that play to their strengths.

Life is Not Always Fair

Charles Hamelin. Photo by John Biehler

Charles Hamelin. Photo by John Biehler

For every medalist on the podium there are athletes who have just missed out by a fraction of a second, a misstep or fall.  Defending Olympic champion Charles Hamelin was predicted to repeat his multi-medal performance but unfortunately fell twice during qualifying rounds. After falling for the second time, he retreated to a private area to let out his frustration before addressing the media with the following statement.

“Short-track is a sport that is really exciting and can be really, really glorious for some people, and sometimes can be really rude and really cruel for some other people. And for me right now, in the 1,000 and the 1,500-metres, it’s a tough moment to pass through. But it’s not because I was not strong enough.”

There are so many events that are out of our control and all we can do is prepare as best as we can and keep trying until it’s our moment to shine. If we don’t attempt great things, we will never know our potential.

Never Give Up

The Canadian Women's Hockey Team winning Gold in the 2010 Olympics. Photo by S. Yume

The Canadian Women’s Hockey Team winning Gold in the 2010 Olympics. Photo by S. Yume

Some athletes had stories of wanting to give up but they decided to push through and give it their all one more time for amazing results.

By now everyone has heard the story of the Canadian women’s hockey team’s incredible comeback to win Gold. They were behind most of the game but they made every moment count and scored two goals in the last five minutes of the game to force overtime.

All it takes is a single shot, decision or action to change the course of a game or your life. Never let yourself believe that it’s too late to change your path, career or life.

What life lessons are you reminded of during the Olympics?

« | »