The power of self-belief: Olympic spirit is about more than winning gold

Representing your country at the games requires struggle, and not only the desire to win but the ability to do so

David Rigby
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I was flying back from Spain recently when I saw the film “Eddie the Eagle.” It was one of the most inspiring films I have ever seen. It is the true story of a British man who in his youth had damaged knees, was told to give up and read books, and yet became Britain’s only ski-jumping representative in the Calgary Olympics in 1988.

This was a man with a vision - the impossible dream. The British Olympics committee put as many barriers in his way as possible. It was ‘establishment’ and he was working class - it did not want to spend money on such people. Being working class, he did not have connections.


Every setback was met with a new determination. Sometimes he was forced to modify his vision, changing from skiing to ski-jumping as the entry rules made it easier to qualify. So the committee upped the barriers to entry to block him. Eddie’s never-give-up approach overcame those new barriers, and eventually enabled him to set British world records.
In 1898, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, said:

· The important thing in the Olympic Games is not the winning but the taking part.

· The important thing is not the triumph but the struggle.

As we see Brazil’s struggle to even host the Olympics this year, and the importance to countries as they compete for medals, the struggle seems to be forgotten amid the desire and the pressure for triumph.

Representing your country at the games requires struggle, and not only the desire to win but the ability to do so. At one point, Eddie recognized he had gone as far as he could on willpower alone, and managed to acquire a coach who, being so impressed with Eddie’s determination, gave his services for free as Eddie could not pay.

The late British singer Cilla Black is another example of self-belief over talent. The Beatles helped her audition with their manager Brian Epstein. She failed mainly due to nerves, but also lack of preparation and knowledge. So she learnt that lesson, and was fortunate to get another opportunity and got the record deal.

With that incredible self-belief, she was totally mystified why her first record did not get to number one. She followed Epstein’s advice and recorded a ballad “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” which reached number one. After 15 hit singles, she spent the next 30 years as the highest-paid British gameshow host, but above all she wanted to be remembered as a singer. She made some great records, but will never be regarded as a singer’s singer.

Reap what you sow

In multilevel marketing, very few are very successful. Most are not prepared to put in the effort needed to build the business in the early stages. Finding 20 people a day to call is not easy, nor is dealing with hundreds of rejections. However, it only takes four or five ambitious people working for you to achieve your goals - it is a matter of finding and nurturing them.
Many Olympic entrants have had that determination and talent to get to the top in their chosen field, and serve as examples to us all. The more deprived their upbringing, the more tenacious they have to be to overcome barriers. Some people put it down to luck, but you can make your own luck.

People who succeed the most are often the ones who failed the most. They fell over, and instead of lying there they got up and started again. The more often you get up again, the more you can learn from mistakes and get it right next time. So to be like Eddie and Cilla:

· really believe in yourself

· pursue that dream

· put in the work

· have some talent and use advice to develop it

· do not let setbacks and failures stop you - learn from them

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