“Faster, Higher, Stronger”

I can’t read the Olympic motto without picturing a coach shaking with passion and excitement as he inspires his athletes to push themselves to their physical limits, past their perceived end of physical strength or endurance.  Kind of like me running up the hill I live on. OK, there might be some drama missing if you aren’t me and don’t know how hard it is to run up my hill, but never the less, I’m going to spew out that motto with every ounce of breath I have left next time I get to the mailbox where I always stop. And then I’m going to try to press on to the next driveway so that one day I will make it all the way to where it levels off, and then eventually all the way up to my house.  In the mind movie of my life in which I star, this will be the Olympics.

The organizer of the first Olympic games collected a second motto for us to live by as well, “The most important thing is not to win but to take part!” In other words, there is virtue in the struggle, not just in the outcome. If I can’t yet achieve champion status by getting to the top of my hill, should I even try at all? “Of course, how silly”, you might think. But what about your health…even if you think you could never be a champion, are you at least taking part?

I have sympathy for you, trust me.  “I have no free time, I have so many responsibilities, I am so out of shape”…the list goes on.  These may all be true, but nothing changes the fact that your body will feel better, work better, and live longer when you make a concerted effort to at least do the things a champion would do.
And since we’re talking mottos here, if you need even more inspiration then the London 2012 Olympic motto “Inspire a Generation” might be a good kick in the rear to get your own personal Olympic training going.  People in your life will be affected in some way or another by how well you take care of yourself.

I love this story I read about the birth of the games.  Following an ancient Greek victory over the Thermopylae, the conquering king Xerxes demanded to know why there had been so few men for him to fight.  Someone explained that many of the men were gone competing for an olive-wreath crown of victory in the Olympic Games. A general named Tigranes is supposed to have then muttered, “Good heavens! Mardonius, what kind of men are these against whom you have brought us to fight? Men who do not compete for possessions, but for honour.” (1)

There are different aspects of honor for those of us who “compete” for it… some for their 19th gold metal and some to go beyond the flowered mailbox.  For the first there is the honor of worldwide acclaim, respect, and the wealth that comes with notoriety. There are few human beings in this group. For the rest of us I’ll tell you what I see as the olive wreathe we are striving for… the ability to serve others even in the smallest ways, to inspire the next generation to be thankful for the life they have been given and to protect it, nurture it, and treat is as the precious gift it is, to focus on the wins rather than complaints, to get up and live more and watch less, and to share that sparkle in your heart and eyes with those around you.
Parts of our life script are written for us and we have not been consulted, but I’m talking about the part you can write yourself. Let’s let the Olympic athletes inspire us to push ourselves a little FASTER when we walk, to raise the bar HIGHER on the quality of food we eat, to give our body a chance to be STRONGER so that we inspire the next generation.  There is great honor in that.

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(1)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_symbols