It's NOT The Taking Part That Counts

22 August, 2016

It seems only a few months since my wife, our friends and I were sat in the London Olympic stadium revelling in a very special experience in our lifetime. Yet in the blink of an eye, another four years of my life have passed, marked by the Rio 2016 Olympics. These Olympics have seen Team GB finish second in the world (per capita we must be top), beating our impressive medal haul from our home Games.  This is nothing short of amazing. We are talking about a group of human beings that have, every day, through internal drive and discipline, practiced and honed their performances to a point where cometh the hour, despite the pressure and the stress, they have been able to deliver. 
They couldn’t have done this if they had bought into the vacuous statement of 'It’s the taking part that counts.' I understand why people say this: to take away the pain of losing, but how about we change the statement to something more meaningful: 'It’s focussing on winning that counts.'
Because the reality is that winning IS what counts. Not necessarily winning gold - it could be silver or bronze - but you have to compete to win. The beautiful thing about these GB Olympians is that they didn’t look for instant gratification, they weren’t packing up at 4.55pm, they didn’t get in 15 minutes late and think that was ok. They were there first and out last. They did more than just ‘their job’. Their focus and desire to win is what gave them the special, momentous, life changing, never-to-be-forgotten experience of being Olympic medal winners. If they are wise and generous, they will take their learnings and share them with the country. They will preach about the need to continually practice, to focus, and to discipline one’s self to constantly learn and improve.
The lessons that should be taken from our Olympians’ achievements are obvious: if you want to do anything significant in your life you need to commit time, energy and effort to it. You need to practice, train, learn and improve every day. It doesn’t matter if that is being a parent, driving, cleaning windows or running a FTSE, if you aren’t in a cycle of continual improvement you will never feel the buzz or gain the reward that comes from ‘focussing on winning’. Sure, you will fall short sometimes and ‘fail’ but life is about how you respond to these things, life is about how quickly you get back up after being knocked to the floor. 
You can ‘take part’ in life by sitting at home watching day time TV blaming the government for your depressed state, but that’s b*ll sh*t right? Taking part is easy, it requires almost no effort to take part in anything, in return you don’t get the satisfaction or reward that you get if you compete to win. 
So thank you Team GB for inspiring us, for showing us what we need to do to be winners, whatever our discipline. Because taking part just doesn’t cut it.