As we look back over the past couple of months it has been an amazing time particularly here in the UK, due in large part to the undoubted tremendous success of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The opening and closing ceremonies bookended each sporting masterpiece beautifully; the Games themselves were spectacular in their showcasing of the best of the best of the best in the world at their respective sports. The aim of the London 2012 organisers was “To Inspire A Generation” and it is a pretty safe bet that not only have they inspired a generation, they’ve inspired an entire nation. Throughout the country people have been inspired by the performance of the athletes, their hard work and dedication, how they have overcome often seemingly impossible odds to achieve even more impossible-seeming results.
With it, people have rediscovered a sense of pride in Britain, not in the imperial superiority way, but in an empowering and celebratory way as we acknowledge that we as a nation can most certainly rise to the challenge when the occasion arises, something we did admirably as we put on what has been widely recognised as the best Olympics and best Paralympics ever.
Yet it was not always like this.
Even as late as the start of July, there were a great many people who were expressing the view that the Games would be a disaster. This was a view which had been regularly and often loudly proclaimed ever since London was awarded the Games back in 2005.
- “It’ll be rubbish”.
- “The opening ceremony will be embarrassing”.
- “It’s a complete waste of money, we should spend it on something useful”.
- “They’ll never complete the work on time”.
- “Ha! Public transport in London will fail, it’ll never cope with the numbers, we’ll be a laughing stock”.
- “London will be awful during the Games, overcrowded, nobody will like it”.
- “We should give the Games to someone else and save ourselves from disaster”.
- “It’s a waste of time, nobody will enjoy them”.
- “It’ll be pathetic – no way can they compete with Beijing 2008”.
And so the detractors went, pouring cold water upon the very idea that we as a nation could even dare to dream of holding a successful Games. Indeed such was the vitriol from some quarters that expressing support for the Olympics because for some a source of embarassment. At various stages pretty much the entire media, television radio and newspapers alike, were united in their condemnation of the forthcoming Olympics, each vying to sneer the loudest about the absurd possibility that it might be a success.
Now, the organisers had three options at this stage –
- Cancel the whole event and let another country take it over;
- Go ahead with it all, but scale things back, don’t try to be ambitious, and accept that it’ll be rubbish and an embarrassment – get it over and done as quickly as possible and move on;
- Stick to their vision, stick to their plans, know that what they are doing will be a tremendous success; in short, ignore the naysayers and press ahead making the whole things a huge success.
What if the organisers had become despondent, filled with self-doubt, believed all the doom-mongers, and went for option 1 or even 2? Think of all the joy, excitement, emotion, celebration and inspiration we would have collectively missed as a result.
Fortunately for us all, the organisers wisely chose option 3; they pressed ahead knowing what they were doing, knowing their plan, knowing that they were creating something fantastic which would work. They ignored the naysayers. They did not let the doom-mongers get them down. They did not waver from their vision and goals. And didn’t they succeed admirably as a result? Thank goodness the organisers all had the tenacity to stick to their guns and to know in their hearts that they were creating something wonderful, and to ignore the doubts.
And therein lies a massive lesson for each and every one of us!
For there are many times throughout our lives where we go to do something, only to be told that we’ll fail or it’s a silly idea or nobody will want it or…
Sometimes these doubts come from other people; very often those doubts come from ourselves. Both are destructive and neither are helpful. When we find ourselves in that position, and we will countless more times in life (I’m sure you can easily think of many times in the past where you’ve been there), we face the same 3 options which faced the Olympic organisers, namely –
- Give up
- Do a half-hearted job accepting that it’ll be a failure
- Ignore the doubters, have the confidence and self-belief to know what you are doing, and press on full steam ahead creating a massive success
And when you are in that position, anything less than option 3 is not only doing yourself a dis-service, it is doing an even more massive dis-service to those who would benefit from you doing a great job.
Of course, it’s easy to say “Have the confidence and proceed” but how can we do that when all around are telling us all the reasons why it can’t be done?
Here is where your own planning and preparation is vital. Follow this 5 step approach –
- Have a concrete plan – know exactly where you are going, what you are creating.
- Identify anything which can go wrong (we ignore Murphy’s Law at our peril!) and prepare contingency plans for those (or at least work out how to minimise the risk of them going wrong).
- Create a plan of how you are going to achieve everything – break it down into small steps and detail them. This makes it easier to follow and gives you plenty of opportunities to celebrate successful completion of each step along the way.
- Get all the resources you need to be successful. This includes the tools and raw materials, but also the expertise either through training or by getting other people involved.
- Get yourself a good coach, someone who can be your greatest supporter, be there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on, and also be there to kick your butt when you need it; someone who can help you to be the best you can be and who can help you to see things you might not spot on your own (there is not a single Olympian who got where they were without a coach – why would you deny yourself that competitive advantage in general?)
Armed with these, you set yourself up for success. And when people start telling you all the reasons why it will fail, go back to your plan and check for yourself; correct anything which might be wrong, then press head like the Olympic organisers did and create your own lasting success!