Monday, July 30, 2012

I love to win: but at what cost?

I love to win

Don’t get me wrong… I lose a lot. And often by a very long way. I am very competitive, mostly with myself, but still I love the feeling of success.

At the age of 36, I finally understand what I didn’t when I was a competitive swimmer in my teens… when you train, if you don’t train hard, if you don’t give your all, if you don’t listen to your coach, you only cheat yourself. But sometimes none of this knowledge matters.

Today has been a really frustrating day for me. I am angry at who it seems we have become as a society. Well at least some of us. On my way to swimming training this morning (yes, I am dragging this 36 year old butt into an outdoor pool at freezing o’clock to compete at the masters games later this year and training rather than watching the Olympics… go figure) I was listening proudly to the success of two of our swimmers. Alicia Coutts was about to receive her bronze medal and Christian Sprenger was having the race of his life in the 100 breaststroke.  I almost didn’t want to train. I wanted to wait and listen to the 4 x 100m relay for men. Thank goodness I didn’t. Not because they didn’t win, but because it seems we (the media and some of the people of Australia) feel that if we put a goal out there and don’t succeed we are failures. Also we are apparently arrogant and in need of bringing down. Wow. I believe that is sad.

I have so many goals. That is the way I work. Goals for my weight. Goals for business. Goals for masters swimming. Goals for how I want to parent. Goals for my relationship.  My life is about goals. I didn’t realise it for a long time, but for me, I respond to goal setting. I appreciate that not everyone works that way, but I do. I need goals to achieve. I need goals to stay focused. This year I have the Pan Pac Masters games. Next year is the Mooloolaba Triathlon, followed by Noosa. Maybe a half marathon thrown in. If my closest friends have something to say about it I will probably add a half ironman to my list (but maybe not – my husband still likes to spend time with me!)

I often share my goals. Sharing them means that my friends help me. They stand by me and if I succeed, they celebrate with me. And if I fail, they are there, they understand what it meant to me and they help me pick up the pieces to start again on my next goal. I believe that James Magnussen did this. He shared with Australia. Not to be arrogant. But for our support.

Today we have stomped on a champion. But more than that, we have told our kids not to share their dreams for fear of ridicule. Today certainly has been a dark day for Australian swimming. Not because of the outcome in the pool, but because of the character we have shown as a nation.

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