The Olympic Games: Positive Energy

Vancouver Sun

By Adam Kreek

In response to: “Olympics bring debt, evictions and civil-rights abuses, critic says,” by Jeff Lee, on Sept. 15, 2009:

I was truly sorry to read Helen Lenskyj’s perspective of the Olympic Games, but thank her for sharing her criticism.

I have experienced the Olympics differently; it is a celebratory world event. I would be more than happy to lecture at UBC’s Green College to address the many benefits that this focused gathering unleashes within a host city.

The Olympics are one of too few global celebrations of human potential and achievement — we all need more happiness. World citizens gather regularly to talk about real and pressing global issues. At the Olympics, world citizens gather to create positive energy. This global gathering encourages the sharing of ideas and values, breaking down harmful barriers held by individuals and between cultures.

On the playing field of the Olympics it truly doesn’t matter if you are black, brown or white, Muslim, Christian or atheist, communist, capitalist or socialist. In honest competition it only matters if you are higher, faster or stronger.

The Olympics give us consistent and concrete examples of the values that help us grow and achieve growth as individuals, organizations or as a society. These values are contagious and transfer across disciplines.

Olympians, and more importantly Olympic hopefuls, are unpaid, self driven, and rarely rewarded externally for their efforts. Lenskyj points out, “hard work itself doesn’t guarantee success,” but hard work in concert with surefire positivity, steadfast determinism and passion for life does guarantee personal growth and unexpected opportunity.

This is what the Olympics promotes: being the best you can be and maximizing your individual human potential.

The Olympics are not perfect. Like any large sporting event or other gathering, the Olympics leave a footprint in its host cities. We must continue the great challenge of shaping this impact to remove harm. VANOC is taking great steps in areas such as sustainability and reducing the impact on vulnerable parts of the public. By building on these and past successes we continue to build a celebration that itself showcases human achievement.

I have had the opportunity to speak in classrooms across B.C. and share lessons I have learnt through my experience in amateur sport. A key lesson I teach is to adopt a solutions-based mentality. The best athletes and coaches know that we cannot focus on what we are doing wrong. Instead, we must focus on a new path and new model to strive for.

Critics too often do what is easy: offer destructive criticism. Little is achieved by this practice. Goal attainment comes from a consistent and solutions-focused mentality. This is one of many key and transferable skills of high performance, adopted frequently in successful business and organizational environments.

Other topics I explore with children include: goal setting and paths of achievement; embracing our natural strengths (mental, physical or spiritual) and expanding them to discover excellence; how to seek failure and use it to uncover our true limits and potential; why we must surround ourselves with positive role models and pick our friends wisely.

There is something intangible, yet magical about the energy in an Olympic city. “The majority of visitors to Vancouver will have the sole purpose of giving their support to a loved one.” That’s a lot of love in one place! For two weeks next February, Vancouver will glow: 2,000 to 3,000 athletes will be competing in Vancouver, 200,000 to 300,000 spectators will sing and cheer in the stands, while two to three billion viewers will cheer from across the globe. The powers of these fans are unparalleled.

What an opportunity to constructively encourage positive change!

Adam Kreek is an Olympic gold medallist and geotechnical engineer (Stanford University). He is an author, Success Coach, keynote speaker and entrepreneur.