I have a high regard for excellence, be it in anyone from artisans to artists, intellectuals to athletes. The dedication, skill and ability demonstrated usually calls forth admiration and respect. However, when it comes to competitions – and the olympics reminded me of this – I have a caveat.
Putting the money, politics and sportsmanship – or lack of them – aside I am always reminded of a line from the film ‘Cool Running’. It is immaterial how large or small the competition is. The truth of the words ring clear.
For many people the excellent film ‘Chariots of Fire’ sums up much of the meaning of the olympics, but for me it is the film based on a real event – “Cool Running’. At one point in the film the coach is talking to a team member about the olympic gold medal. He warns:
“A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without the medal, you’ll never be enough with it.”
Sometimes it seems we have lost sight of this. It may seem a bit ‘around the bend’ to some, but to others it can seem as if our society has been geared only to achieving ‘the medal’, be it a high salary, an elite job title, letters after your name, fame, or infamy and so on, no matter what the cost to the person or society. Is this healthy?
There are many aspects to a healthy fulfilling life and perhaps ‘the medal’, while an incentive in the pursuit of excellence, is only part of the equation. In and of them selves receiving ‘the medal’ or it’s equivalent, ( the salary, job title, letters etc.) does not bring health, self respect or happiness. You have to have taken them with you on the journey, the journey being as important as the goal. Only then will they be with you, and with or without the ‘medal’ you will be enough.