Journal

three Olympic lessons

I'm telling you, the Olympics just suck me in. I can't help it. And yesterday was one of those classic Olympic days where the spectacle of the story, the passion of the athlete and the gravity of the moment all combined to form something legendary, something truly Olympic. ShaunWhitephoto by Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

In case you hadn't heard, Animal - the artist formerly known as The Flying Tomato & Shaun White - took gold on Cypress Mountain last night. His performance was inspired, clinching the gold without needing his second run.

And then Lindsey Vonn, limping onto the mountain with a bruised shin only to fly down the hill at over 80 mph, finishing the run on her one good leg - to take the gold. And I think, for me, that's a huge part of the draw of the Olympic Games. The performances of the athletes are a reminder that we are capable of doing far more than we think.

LindseyVonnphoto by Doug Mills/The New York Times

One week in and these are three lessons I've learned from watching the Vancouver Games:

Lesson 1: Pain (and gravity) be damned.

Life is resistance training. Most of it is lined up in opposition to whatever goals I have set. Watching Lindsey defy her body in pursuit of achieving gold was breathtaking. I wish I had 1/3 the heart, drive and toughness she showed at Whistler. "My leg hurt throughout and it still hurts,'' she said after taking gold. ''There was so much going on and so much adrenaline, I just blocked it out.''

But denying physical pain is only half the battle. If you can push through you still must contend with the fear of leaving the mountain. I have to remember not to let natural laws hold you back or keep you grounded.

Lesson 2: Be a Pioneer

Shaun spent time on private half-pipe tucked away on some picturesque mountain inventing tricks. Actually, there were several tricks, but the one in questione they call the Double McTwist 1260. Before he figured out a way to dazzle the world on the Olympic stage, Shaun trained and trained and trained trying to perfect this thing that existed only in his head.

This is what pioneers do. They don't hang with everyone else and polish up someone else's creative; pioneers define the future.

Lesson 3: Always Go Big

Shaun White knew the gold was his before he made his final run, but he hadn't done the Double McTwist. He didn't need it, but he did it.

In his mind, the decision was a simple one, “I just felt like I didn’t come all the way to Vancouver not to pull out the big guns.”

I want to be like that - pushing myself even when I don't have to.