Today’s topic is excellence. The London 2012 Olympics was a great spectacle of human endeavour. Over 10,000 athletes—Olympians—from around the world trained for four years to have the opportunity to represent their nation.
During the London 2012 Olympics 104 Olympic records and 38 world records were broken. What’s more, many athletes excelled and smashed their personal bests. Surely this was the best games ever?
To celebrate the success of the London 2012 Olympics I take a look at the Olympic values and examine their relevance in leadership.
The Olympic values are:
Let’s consider the first value: striving for excellence.
Striving for Excellence
Citius, Altius, Fortius. Faster, higher, stronger. That’s the Olympic motto. Encouraging effort is about aiming for excellence and this means always doing and giving one’s best.
This reminds me of the story about a little-known athlete who transformed the high jump in the late 1960s. His name was Dick Fosbury and he thought and acted differently. He aimed high and achieved excellence!
The Fosbury Flop
Up until the Mexico Olympics of 1968 the Olympic record for the high jump was set at 2.06m (6′ 9⅛” .) In 1968 Dick Fosbury smashed this record. He achieved a massive 2.24m (7′ 4¼”) by thinking and jumping differently. He innovated.
Before Fosbury the customary way for a high jumper to cross the bar was to place their body parallel to it. This was known as the Western Roll.
Fosbury changed this. Instead of turning his body toward the bar he turned his back to it, brought his legs up and flipped over the bar backwards. This technique is known as the Fosbury Flop and is still used today.
To achieve excellence we sometimes we need a game change. We need to do things completely different. We must innovate. That is, to make use of new ideas.
That’s right, Fosbury wasn’t the first to flop. But he was the first to turn a flop into a success. That’s innovation. That’s striving for excellence!
Excellence can be obtained if you:
… care more than others think is wise;
… risk more than others think is safe;
… dream more than others think is practical;
… expect more than others think is possible. – Claude Bissell
The London 2012 Olympics did not see a new world high jump record. Javier Sotomayor has held the world record since 1993. Maybe we need another game changer to see his record broken?
Next time I write I’ll continue the theme of the Olympic values: Demonstrating respect.
Have Your Say
What would your vision of excellence look like if you knew you could achieve it? What would you do differently today? How do you encourage innovation in your organisation? Please join the discussion.
Creative Commons image courtesy Celso Moreno.