The Greatest Show on Earth has come to an end. I admit that as a proud Londoner, I may be slightly biased — but personal bias aside; it seems that London’s Olympics have been a resounding worldwide hit. London is now experiencing an Olympic hangover… a post-high cocktail of elation, exhaustion, inspiration and woe.
It was seven years ago that London said “I do” to hosting the Olympics and for the city’s dwellers it’s hard to believe that it has come to an end.
This, then, is a good juncture to reflect on what lessons we can learn from the Games. It may come as a surprise, but even an event focused entirely on sporting prowess can provide inspiration to strengthen one of our most important relationships: marriage. Here are seven Olympic-inspired marriage lessons for your consideration:
1. False Starts are Fatal:
Since the last Olympics, the “false-start” rule has been incorporated into Athletics. Different to previous Olympic Games, the rule states that a false-start now equals an immediate disqualification. If you start too early, there are no second chances.
In marriage terms, this lesson has nothing to do with age, but it can provide food for thought for couples considering tying the knot. It is important to know when you are ready for marriage as a couple. It may be after six months of being together. It may be after six years. Whichever way, you need to approach it with honesty, communication and a clear, agreed understanding of your rules to avoid a potentially fatal false start which you may not recover from.
2. Value each other:
One of my lasting memories of the Games is the moment Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Great Britain’s Mo Farah — triple and double gold medal-winners from the 2012 event — stood together holding the other’s victory pose. While Farah did the ‘To the World/lightning Bolt’ and Bolt did the ‘Mo-Bot’ the image became an image highlighting friendship, humor, respect, determination, excellence, inspiration and equality. For these two men who have known each other for 10 years it was their way of honoring the achievements of the other.
For married couples, it can only be a positive thing to value each other. Take the time to laugh together, to set goals and to admire each other (for achievements great and small).
3. Don’t be afraid of change
The London 2012 Olympic Games highlighted that change can be a positive thing to be embraced, not something to be feared. It saw the first ever women’s boxing events and the first time that there was a female athlete in the team of every country to compete in the Games.
Going back a few years, a major change in 1948 was the introduction of the Paralympic Games, an event we look forward to in a few weeks that is expected to be sold out for the first time ever.
This was change for good… and for any couple who intends to be together ’till death do us part’, embracing change is a necessity.
4. Don’t be afraid of PDAs:
The London 2012 Olympic Games were not short on public displays of affection. We saw the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge jump into each other’s arms to celebrate a victory they witnessed. There were also varying proposals of marriage at events, such as spectator Tom Holt proposing to his girlfriend, Elfi Czinegeova, in front of a crowd of 15,000 at a Beach Volleyball event.
Public displays of affection can be a sign of seizing the moment, which is a great attribute for couples to have. If it’s good enough for the Olympics… it’s good enough for us!
5. Don’t give up on your goals
It seems to me that to be an Olympian, it is essential that you don’t give up. Not only do Olympians train for an astounding amount of hours per day or per week, but to be successful, it is essential to recognize that you may not win every battle every time… but if you don’t give up, you can still come back and take gold.
Athletes that highlighted this during the games included:
• Michael Phelps, the world’s most decorated Olympian who even after losing his coveted butterfly title, came back days later to resolutely win his individual title. He retired this week with 22 medals (18 of them gold) from three Olympic Games
• Mo Farah, the British athlete who had learned an important lesson, one which Albert Einstein himself subscribed to. It seems Farah learned that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. In his case, he tackled his previous sub-medal standard performance by training in a different way, in a different place, with a different coach. The result? Two shiny gold medals for the 5,000m and 10,000m races that he recognizes would not have happened if he hadn’t analysed and acted on what had gone wrong previously
• Katherine Grainger, a British three-time silver medallist rower (from the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Games) who finally gained her gold 12 years and four Games on from her original attempt. Perseverance and change, including finding the right partner was key to this success.
There are countless other examples of this from athletes who competed from all over the world and the lesson here to married couples is that even when you feel down and out, it can still be worth giving it your best attempt again. Achieving success may involve implementing some changes, but being open to agreeing to try something different and not giving up can yield medals.
6. Show your appreciation
At times it can feel like “Thank You” are the two most underused words in the English language, and during London 2012, we were reminded that it doesn’t take much to show our appreciation for each other, yet it can result in something magical. The organizers profusely thanked the more than 70,000 volunteers involved and the athletes passionately thanked their coaches, their supporters and their fans.
Taking the time to say thanks to our greatest supporter, our spouse will be just as appreciated.
7. Be yourself:
Anyone who watched the Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the London 2012 Games will recognize that both Directors didn’t hesitate to ‘be themselves’ — i.e. to present what they consider Great Britain to be, even if some may not understand or may consider it to be somewhat… [insert your own appropriate word here: weird, wacky, eccentric, etc]!
This was not about trying to copy the admirable precision of the ceremonies in Beijing (a task I think we would have failed at miserably). Doing it the British way was the solution to avoiding an unfavorable comparison.
And that we did. The Opening “Isles of Wonder” and the closing “A Symphony of British Music” ceremonies were awesome spectacles to be admired in their different ways — from the most exciting and interactive history lesson you ever witnessed, to the reunification of the Spice Girls. Even if you didn’t like every choice that was made in the shows, you got a sense of confidence, identity and strength in the decisions made regarding these presentations.
The Olympic-related lesson for marrieds? You can be proud of yourself if you are true to yourself. As with the opening and closing ceremonies, you can love it or leave it… and in the case of your spouse, I hope ‘love’ is the option every time.
Founder, Limitless Coaching