Big Moments Matter

To watch the video on why big moments matter, click here.

The Games of the 31st Olympiad have come and gone. I love the Olympics! The athleticism, the story lines, the inspiring moments, the preparation, the history and everything else that we get to experience once every four years. To me, sport has the ability to transcend barriers and differences. Sport can bring people together. We can also learn valuable lessons from Olympic athletes and apply them to our own lives.

After feeling lost and confused about what I will do with the next four years of my life, I have regained my composure and wanted to share with you some lessons we can learn from Olympic athletes.

Imagine your career coming down to one moment every four years. That is what is at stake for Olympic athletes. Witnessing these athletes experience that moment resonates with all of us because our lives are a collection of big moments. We can merely do our best and learn from the experiences.

Take this big moment for example. Kerri Strug participated in the 1996 Olympics as a member of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. Prior to ’96, the then-Soviet Union team had won gold medal at every event they competed for. The Romanian team were also competing and were the current World Champions.

Going into the final rotation, the Russians were on floor exercise and the U.S. on vault. The U.S. held a commanding lead over the Russian team, though it was mathematically possible for the Russians to take the gold.

Strug anchored the vault. On her first attempt she under-rotated the landing and damaged her ankle. Retrospectively by this time the U.S. team had secured the gold medal due to a poor performance on the floor from the final Russian athlete. But the team and Strug did not know that and to mathematically clinch the gold, Strug needed to vault again.

Her coach, Béla Károlyi, kept shouting at her, “You can do it! You can do it! Listen to me!” Strug took off down the runway, executed her vault and after saluting the judges, collapsed to her knees in pain. That jump secured their first gold medal. What people don’t mention when telling that story is that her coach, adamant that Strug not miss the medal ceremony, carried her back to the podium to receive her medal.

Where have you faced big moments in your life? How did you respond? Also, who do you have in your corner, believing in you, willing and urging you to face your big moment with chants of “Listen to me! You can do it!”

When researching for this article, it got me thinking, “What if Strug’s coach did know they had already secured the gold?” Would Strug have risen to her big moment, in front of a home crowd, winning the first ever US gold? I assure you that any great coach understands that big moments matter for their athletes.

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