I find the Olympics to be so thrilling: the sublime grace of the ice skater; the clean majesty of the ski jumper flying over 110 meters; the creative, gravity-defying snowboarder; the stress to the entire body of the mogul skier; the calm precision of the curler; the subtle changes in direction as the luger travels upwards of 80mph; the whoosh and intensity of the downhill and slalom skier. The opening ceremonies demonstrated the important values that define South Korea, and they were equally beautiful and technically tremendous, especially the squadron of 1,500 drones creating a flying set of Olympic rings. The sheer joy on the faces of the athletes as they marched into the stadium, especially flag holders who were the sole representatives of their countries, was precious, especially an Israeli team of ten athletes. The fact that North and South Korea could march in together as one team was certainly unimaginable to me one month ago. The warm reception that the North Korean pair of ice skaters received on Tuesday evening was encouraging. The camaraderie and respect that athletes show one another reminds us that there are ways to unite people, and sport has always been one way. Watching brilliance and excellence one athlete after another is so uplifting. I always hope that none of the athletes fall or fail, as I want them all to be judged on their best, without a slip-up entering the equation.
I am reminded of the motto of the old Oakland Raiders: Commitment to Excellence. This phrase always resonated with me and still does. All of the athletes are committed to excellence. We must be as well in all that we do. It is easy to become complacent after many years of life. These athletes are young, and have not faced the challenges of life that can wear a person down. If you dine in a restaurant and receive a sub-par meal, will you send it back, or just quietly eat it? Will you return there again? If your new car has problems that are not fixed to your satisfaction, will you keep that car?
Why should a phrase such as “planned obsolescence” be part of our vocabulary? Why can we all lament that things were built far better in the 20thCentury, yet accept the lesser product as the best the company now produces? Before we can except and/or demand excellence from others, we must hold ourselves up to the highest standard. Whether it is to model the best to our children, grandchildren, friends, co-workers, or employees, the Peter Principle does not have to come into play. Just as all of the Olympic athletes strive for that perfect ten, so too must we in all that we do. Settling for a score of nine eventually leads to settling for a score of eight. It is clear where this negative momentum can lead. If there is any lesson to be learned from the Olympics, it is this: We are all on the Olympic team of “Life”. God is the final judge, and all of us will be judged one day. When your turn comes, what will your score be? I hope it is a ten.