Trying, Confidence, Falling and Getting Back Up: Life Lessons from the Olympics

My family and I are fans of the Olympics.  We look forward to spending time together watching and routing for the athletes from our country.  There is something magical about the young people who come together in peace from around the world after having worked so hard.  Their hopes are like raw nerves on display for us and we can’t help but get caught up in the drama.  My husband, boys and I have watched together from the time they were so very young.  Each time the Olympics ends, I hope that my children have learned:

  • Hard work can reap rewards.  Every time we watch, we say to each other, “Look how easy they make it look” as we joke about bobsledding, figure skating, skiing or curling like they do.  We know that it isn’t so easy.  We also talk about how many years the athletes have devoted to honing their craft.  They have worked hard.  You don’t get far if you don’t.  I like to think that my husband and I are living examples of the value of being hard working people.  Seeing the young athletes of the Olympics reinforces that it isn’t only at home – the world works this way.  Hard work is not only important so that we have “things.”  It is emotionally rewarding.
  • Sometimes you win.  Winning and achieving are great feelings.  We can see it as we watch the faces of the athletes as they know they have done well and the scores reflect it.  We watch them receive their medals and imagine what that must feel like.  I’ve known many a preschooler who enjoys reenacting what they’ve seen as they pretend to get their own medal.  Young children should know that accomplishment feels good. 
  • Sometimes you fall.  The graceful skater leaps and falls.  The skier races down the mountain so swiftly only to lean incorrectly and topple over.  The spectators gasp and wait to see if they are hurt.  They get back up.  The audience applauds.  Isn’t that the essence of life?  None of us will be “on our feet” all the time.  It is okay to fall.  It is brave to get back up and keep going.
  • The heroes are those who try.  The Olympics are all about trying.  These young people have spent years training just to try.  They try to do their best.  They try to make the finals.  They try to get a medal.  They may succeed or they may fail but they will not regret a lack of trying.  How often do we say to our children, “Just try it.”  Olympians are a fine example of strength, courage and the willingness to do.

Soon, my family and I will watch the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics of Sochi, Russia.  I will watch with my 16 year old.  I hope that he takes the same lessons from the past two weeks that I wanted him to learn even when he was a preschooler.  We are never too old be reminded that we have witnessed effort, success,  courage, disappointment and even failure but there they are - the hopeful athletes - marching together as their lives leave the Olympic venue and go on to new adventures.

Read my articles in “The Shriver Report”:  and "Stress in the Family:  Helping Our Children to Cope" and "From Working Mom to Working Woman:  The Opportunity of the Empty Nest"


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Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
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