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Beating the Odds

Having Big Dreams

Can someone be too committed to an athletic goal?

That’s the question being asked by a young woman I know, a young woman who has won multiple national titles on the collegiate level.

Recently I was surprised to see an email from her, saying two things.

No. 1, she has a dream of going to the Olympics. No. 2, at least one person in her life has told her she wants too badly to go to the Olympics.

Is there such a thing? Probably. Herman Melville wrote about Ahab’s mad and obsessive pursuit of the white whale. On the other hand, president Woodrow Wilson said, “We grow great by dreams.”

How can someone know if they want something too badly? Two things come to mind.

First, what kind of effect is the pursuit having on personal habits? For instance, has the athlete’s diet become extreme, or is it grounded in solid, healthy principles? Is the athlete getting enough sleep? Has the athlete introduced unhealthy or illegal supplements? As long as the pursuit of high-level goals brings with it an embrace of heathy habits, then it sounds good to me. In addition, if the Olympic dream brings heightened sense of time-management, commitment, goal-setting, etc., then go for it!

Second, is the pursuit a joyful one or a grim one? Some people get so involved in their pursuit of their goals that they don’t see all the life around them. They can only experience happiness through victory, and anything else leaves them empty and defeated. They are concerned with the outcome only.

Better to pursue the goals with joy. Go to the gym every day with the sense that you have the opportunity to work on something special, something you love. Enjoy the journey and let the results take care of themselves.

One final word: This young woman’s note, in which she mentions that someone in her life thinks she wants too badly to go to the Olympics, underlines the power that peers can exert. Do the people in your life want you to succeed, or would your success somehow make them feel inferior? Would they feel comfortable bringing you to their level?

Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed!


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