A multi-dimensional crisis is a good time to assess what is truly most important and recalibrate your definition of success. It's very difficult to remove social context and the unconscious affects of ego in setting goals. What is the new Gold medal in your life? Why is that so crucial now? How obvious is it when you win and don't? What price are you willing to pay to win? Whose help do you need?
On that final Saturday during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada cleaned up. I remember where I was and how I felt. It was the culmination of our most successful Olympics. And on home turf too. Skaters, curlers, skiers. The ladies' hockey team pulled off a victory from an impossible deficit and then later Iginla scooped the puck to Crosby in overtime to drive the final nail in. We were more American than the Americans. We found our own pride and patriotism. We won. And maybe for the first time, we made no apologies.
That particular Olympics was also the culmination of a conscious, controversial and maybe unCanadian-like brio and intention. Own the Podium. Eschewing our more traditional equal opportunity ethos, we financially backed sports and athletes that had world-class potential. We set clear, unambiguous goals, developed a strategy, picked our hopefuls; we executed and it worked. Success at last. Happiness for a grateful nation.
Picking winners is harder than it looks.
Own the Podium was controversial in a Nation that also prides itself on equality, inclusion and human rights. There are numerous selection biases in play. How do we control for false negatives and positives? Successful people don't always look the way we expect them to. The winning at all costs obsession leaves a lot of viable players out of the game.
When I first caught site of American Katelyn Ohashi's Perfect 10 on the floor, I was struck by how much she did not conform to the wispy waif stereotype. And yet there was no mistaking her level of finesse and elegance of movement. There seemed to be a lot more at play that an athlete winning a tournament.
Winning is not necessarily success.
Katelyn Ohashi is coached by Valerie Kondos Field. Despite not being steeped in the gymnastics world, Valerie brought an instinctive understanding about self-esteem and the needs of girls and young women as they matured as athletes. She eschewed the classic American winning-at-all-costs model and treated her athletes as whole people. They naturally expressed their higher level of personal engagement and greater emotional connection to excellence in higher levels of performance. Interestingly, this approach to me was more classically Canadian in it's spirit as it placed humanity at least on par with victory.
Ego-based definitions of success exclude many valuable players.
Where are you going and who are you taking with you? It's never been easier to let go of outmoded ideals of success and limited thinking about who you want on your team. The winner no longer has to take all. The spoils are no longer just monetary. There is a much bigger game for people to play together. And a bigger win to achieve together. People and profit. Both matter.