Three Things the Olympics Taught Us About Life
Every year, the world goes all atwitter over an international sports event. This year, it’s the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Suddenly, sports most of us rarely give thought to are in the forefront. We find ourselves becoming sudden fans of bobsledding, figure skating, and skiing.
As fraught with sensationalism, drama, and heartbreak as these events may be, they have a lot to teach us about life. Similarly, these are also lessons I’ve learned over the years as a drummer and drum circle facilitator.
Trust and authenticity are absolutely paramount.
Did you see Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s gold medal-winning ice dance routine? Even if you’re not a fan of ice dance, you can’t help but be captivated by their charisma and energy on the ice.
I can’t even imagine the level of trust required for this type of event; you’re literally putting your life in someone else’s hands day in and day out.
Do you want to be seen as trustworthy in your line of business? People trust you when they know you, and people do business with those they trust.
The best way to be trustworthy? Be you – unequivocally you. When you’re your authentic self, and you highlight your strengths (and accept your weaknesses), people will get to know and trust the real you.
I know that as a facilitator, my strengths are my extensive music and dance background, as well as my energy and playfulness. When I play to those strengths when facilitating a session, I know people will see the real me, and trust me to guide them through a memorable and valuable experience.
Repetition, repetition, repetition. Repeat.
As a musician and a drum circle facilitator, I’m familiar with the concept of practice makes perfect. Just as Olympic athletes need to run a course or routine (or simply a specific component) over and over again, we musicians need to develop a similar type of muscle memory when playing.
Guess what? It comes in handy in other instances, too.
Giving a presentation? Better make sure you know your speech, your slides, and even your dramatic pauses backward and forward.
Getting a certification to bump up your pay grade? The more you go over the material with study groups and practice exams, the more confident you’ll be on exam day.
Humans are creatures of habit. Once we establish a nice flow state, we tend to notice that things are a little less stressful.
How you communicate may be the difference between success and failure.
As I watched the Olympic events that rely on teams and partners, I often wondered about how well those teams communicated among themselves.
From the first Nigerian women’s bobsled team to the Knierim-Knierim figure skating pair who failed to medal but won the hearts of Americans, it’s clear that communication is key when you rely on each other to get the job done. Whether that job is lifting a skater through a series of flips and catches, or working with a team to complete a project for a client, how well you communicate with each other determines your level of success.
When I facilitate rhythm events, I introduce simple methods of non-verbal communication, first between the participants and me, and then among the participants themselves. As the facilitator, my job is to introduce these simple tools, encourage the participants to recognize them, and then further, encourage them to utilize them with each other during the drumming.
Typically, a breakdown in this communication means a breakdown on the rhythm. When the tools work, we sound better, and we’re more in tune with each other’s strength and challenges – and better able to support the group.
To sum it up
So, thanks, Olympics. Thanks for reminding us every other year that we need to get off our you-know-what’s and make a difference in our lives – whether it’s athletic or work-related. Thanks for highlighting those skills and disciplines that we need to hone so we can excel, and to nudge ourselves to be our very best.