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3 Olympics Lessons for Your Workday

Deadly wipeouts. Wardrobe malfunctions. Olympic athletes overcoming obstacles sure can keep your spilled coffee or flubbed presentation at work in perspective. The 2018 Olympics are no different, offering lessons to help you get through the workday or inspire a lifetime of achievements.
olympic lessons
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Olympians share core values that prepare them to do their best and respond gracefully to whatever happens as a result of their best efforts. Whether they’re winning the gold or simply picking themselves up, Olympic athletes remind us that those same core values can translate to the workplace.

1. Give It Your Best

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris nearly died less than a year ago after spiraling into a tree in a backcountry accident. He broke his jaw and left arm, fractured his pelvis and ribs, suffered a collapsed lung and ruptured his spleen. Being unable to move and to speak were low points during his recovery, leaving him wondering if he should be snowboarding at all, he told reporters.

McMorris didn’t just recover, he staged a legendary comeback, poised for a medal as he headed into his final run in the men’s snowboard slopestyle at Pyeongchang. American Red Gerard had just edged past him to gold-medal position, and McMorris had the chance to scale down the difficulty of his final attempt. But he didn’t hold back — he went for it. And while he fell forward on his landing, he still landed the bronze medal.

You could say there are a lot of lessons in McMorris’ stories: never give up, don’t hold back, take risks. But after winning the bronze, the 24-year-old said it’s trying your best.

“I think it doesn’t really matter (what medal you get) as long as you are out here riding and boarding as good as you can,” McMorris said.

2. Don’t Let a Bad Start Spoil Your Day

We’ve all had alarm mishaps, whether setting it for “p.m.” instead of “a.m.” or simply forgetting to set it at all. But can you imagine doing that on the biggest day of your career?

That’s what happened to 17-year-old American snowboarder Red Gerard. The night before his big competition, he fell asleep watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” on Netflix. He was supposed to get up at 6 a.m., but his teammate had to wake him up 20 minutes later. Rushing out the door, Gerard even had to borrow his teammate’s jacket when he couldn’t find his own.

Sitting in 11th place after two runs in the men’s slopestyle snowboarding competition, Gerard went on to shock onlookers by nailing his final run and claiming the first gold medal for Team USA at the Pyeongchang games.

So, as you’re dashing out the door late for work next time, remember: it still could be a gold-medal kind of day. If you don’t let your bad start wreck your attitude, you could still smash that presentation or seal that business deal.

Think like Gerard. Mid-air during his last jump, his only thought was: “Just don’t blow it.”

Think like Gerard. Mid-air during his last jump, his only thought was: 'Just don’t blow it.'Click To Tweet

3. Don’t Stop

Let’s face it — if you walk out of your office’s restroom with your skirt bottom tucked in your waistband or you give a presentation with your fly open, you may never recover from the humiliation. Or so it seems. But the lesson in ice dancer Yura Min’s handling of her wardrobe malfunction is that focus and perseverance can maintain dignity in the toughest situations.

Five seconds into her Olympic debut for South Korea, the hook that kept her costume together came undone. Despite her terror, she adjusted her arms throughout the entire routine with partner Alexander Gamelin to keep her costume from falling off.

I didn’t stop,” she said after the performance. “I went from the beginning to the end. I didn’t stop because you get a deduction if you stop in the middle of a program. In my head, I was thinking, ‘Is it better to stop and fix it and get the deduction or keep going?’”

The pair placed ninth out of 10 teams, and Min later said she would have been devastated if she didn’t have more chances to compete coming up in this Olympics. Still, you wouldn’t have known her feelings based on her game face.

Thankfully, most of us don’t have to face the possibility of such extreme exposure at work. But remember Min’s grace the next time you find toilet paper trailing your shoe or a lunch crumb in your infinity scarf as you talk with the company president, and you’ll be just fine.

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