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Going for Gold

Going for Gold

What a difference 1/100th of a second makes!


8/100ths's of a second -- the difference between the US swim team's relay effort and that of France, the difference between victory and defeat. 1/100th of a second -- the difference between Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic, the difference between a gold and silver medal. As one headline said, "You cruise, you lose."

As I watched Jason Lezak come from behind to lead the US team to a gold medal, I was amazed by his drive and determination. What does it take to win by 8/100th's of a second? It means that you can never give up, not even for 1/100th of a second, that you are constantly going all out. There is not a moment that can be spared. Literally.

And in Phelps' 7th race, the difference was so minute that it was invisible to the naked eye. It could only be confirmed electronically. In that last 1/100th of a second, Cavic glided instead of stretch and Phelps touched the wall first.

That difference led to a world record number of gold medals, to the making of a champion.

I don't particularly care about the Olympics (although I confess a certain fascination). But I did learn a crucial life lesson from these swim meets, about what it means to really give your all. I don't know what was going through Jason Lezak's mind as he surged ahead to victory. Was he trying to insure Michael Phelps' place in history? His own place in history? Was he just focused on winning? Did he feel an extra sense of responsibility as the team captain? He probably doesn't even know.

But he left the crowd with more that the thrill of a last minute, come-from-behind finish. He left them with inspiration. I watched and I learned the meaning of going for broke, of not letting down your guard for even 8/100th's of a second.

The implications are obvious -- in our quest to grow, to learn, to battle our more base inclinations, to be the best we can be, every 1/100th of a second counts. "We cruise, we lose."

We can't slack off. If the US Olympic team can bring this level of drive and determination to swimming, surely we can bring it to the areas of our life that are much more important -- our marriages, our parenting, our relationship with the Almighty.

The Olympics do teach us about success. Not in the manner of the gymnast's father who told her that the only color that counts in their family is gold, but how to behave in the areas of life that really matter. If we apply these lessons to our personal lives and our personal growth, then we can all be champions.

August 17, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Janine Sherr, August 19, 2008 10:45 PM

more Olympic lessons

In addition to learning to take advantage of every moment, the olympics (especially gymnatics!) can teach us what we should do when we fail: pick ourselves up and start again!

(5) ruth housman, August 19, 2008 1:46 PM

going for the gold

Success is not always winning but surely, to go for the gold takes on deep metaphoric meaning if we see this. I find it so interesting that gold and silver seem so complementary. It's an alchemy, like salt and sugar. We "know" they are just so right together. And yet, how is this so? How did this come to be? There is "God" in the world "Gold" and if we see this, yes, bring it into our relationship with the Almighty, with each other! There is, of course, The God in good. We get the most points for trying our very best in the arena of love and life itself is the biggest, toughtest, Marathon of all.

(4) Nina, August 19, 2008 12:21 PM

the analogy one step further

The main point to consider here in this analogy is when it comes to things like lighting shabbat candles. or davening. or any other time bound mitzvot. Candles must be lit on time or it goes from being a mitzvah to a prohibition. Here we can see how much of a difference a second can make. It doesn't matter that it was so close. His competitor got the silver not the gold, and I don't know his name.

(3) Sarah, August 19, 2008 11:55 AM

This is such a positive take on The Olympics! Like others, I too am a bit fascinated by The Olympics, even though I don't at all identify or understand their drive to put SO much effort into something that really, when you think about it, doesn't have much meaning. We can certainly draw inspiration from them though, and that is what the author is getting at. No matter what we think of The Olympics, the Olympians should be admired for their strength, courage and determination to be their best. As Emuna said, we can ALL be champions. :)

(2) Batya, August 19, 2008 9:48 AM

Thank you for once again sharing a thought provoking idea and adding meaning and inspiration. Looking forward to more words of insight and wisdom.

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