Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Lesson of the Olympics

More than ever, it is important to find out the person one is -- so that one can feel, that they are truly the best in the world, at who they are and what they do. In an increasingly competitive world, one has to be competing at what one has a huge natural advantage at doing, because those who are born, bred and naturally gifted specifically for that event, will not only win the event, but be fully recovered by the next day and want to do it again -- while those not naturally inclined, will feel that they have done something once in their lifetime that they intend never to do again, no way.

That’s why it is very important to find out what those skills are that one has that natural aptitude for -- rather than the old thinking that one can simply do anything one wants to, if he simply puts his mind to it and works hard enough. Everybody competing at a top level works very hard -- but some are (child) prodigies, or genetic freaks, while some merely gifted, and most, doing something they’re not suited for.

The profile of competitors in each event are so similar that it is as though they were cloned out of the same mold -- with basketball players going in one arena and gymnasts in another, and usually no mistaking one for the other. Even in events of different weight classes, the similarities are much greater than the differences -- between those competitors of the same event at different weights, and those of any other event, at the same weights.

Midway through the last century, a few countries caught onto this and sent their most gifted coaches into rooms full of likely talented individuals and they could identify those most gifted out of the pack just on the way they looked and behaved. Such individuals were likely to be superior to mediocre athletes (performers) even without any training or familiarity to the event they were already the best in the world at.

That was the beginning of the era of modern competition in athletics. In some places, it is done more subtly and imprecisely -- because there are a lot of resources and choices people can make with their lives -- but in some other countries and societies, there are no resources and time to waste, and so this efficiency of utilization is much more necessary and urgent.

But most achieve that same result in their uniquely different ways -- eventually coming to the same conclusions. Less noticeable is how that same selection process is going on in the other arenas of activity and life -- but it undoubtedly is. It’s just that athletics is much more organized, approved and decorated, than the many others that might just be the difference between death and survival -- that nobody else is around to witness. It matters nevertheless, and may be the only thing that matters.


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