The phrase, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (faster, higher, stronger), is the Olympic motto. It is meant to inspire competitors to achieve greater performances than their peers and predecessors … to “own the record.”
Olympic athletes invest, literally, thousands of hours of their lives chasing their dream for a quadrennial chance at a medal and, perhaps, a record. Iron self-discipline drives these people to endure grueling early morning workouts. These are followed by many hours of skills rehearsal and practice followed by even more hours of conditioning.
These dedicated individuals give up family time, vacations, social events, and celebrations in the pursuit of their dreams for Olympic achievement. The seemingly unending hours of training are brutal and physically draining. There are days, even weeks, when an athlete questions whether the fatigue, the physical pain of pulls and strains, or the other sacrifices are worth it.
Additionally, there are also the ever-present doubts of some trivial injury or unexpected equipment failure at exactly the wrong time ruining years of effort and preparation. There are the exhausting trips across multiple time zones to participate in world championships between Olympics to “hone the competitive edge.” Of course, there is also financial sacrifice.
Many Olympic sports require expensive equipment and facilities. Countless times, the athletes must spend their own money. However, frequently, this is not enough. Consequently, the competitors must search for sponsors to invest money for facilities, coaches, equipment and pay for those competition trips abroad.
In many ways, an Olympic athlete chasing his or dream of a gold medal is similar to a post-graduate student pursuing an advanced degree in a prestigious university. Both are “chasing” a difficult-to-achieve goal that is often expensive in multiple aspects.
In both cases, the chase is not only physically exhausting, but also emotionally straining. There are hours upon hours of effort and self-discipline required in both cases. Lifestyles and social requirements must be tortuously warped to fit the demands of achieving the desired goal.
Yet another apt comparison is that of a small entrepreneur. These people also invest thousands of hours of their lives chasing their dream. These risk-takers dream of the “gold medal” of possessing their own successful business … being their own boss and answering only to their customers.
Like the Olympic athlete, these small business people have days, even weeks, when they question whether the sacrifices are worth it. However, also like the Olympic athlete when they have achieved success in their “gold medal” quest, they are rightfully proud.
Now, imagine, when the Olympic official hangs the medal around the neck of the victorious athlete, he or she says, “You didn’t win this.” Further, picture the president of the university putting the “PhD hood” around the neck of the newly minted “doctor,” saying, “You didn’t earn this.” Compare these imaginary situations to the president of the United States telling small business owners across the country on national television, “You didn’t build this.”
In the Wide World of Sports, academia, business, or any other field of human achievement in the divinely endowed pursuit of happiness, does individual excellence exist, or only group accomplishment? Does our president or anyone in his party really think that no individual singularly deserves the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat due to his or her own efforts?
Is this really an American attitude? Did such a perspective inspire the development of the cotton gin, the revolver, the automobile assembly line, the electric light bulb, flight of the world’s first successful airplane, the cure for polio, or any of thousands of other achievements credited to individuals?