Olympic Lessons: Keep on Trying

February 18th, 2014 by Comment button No Comments »

Team Canada Olympic Hockey

Dear Kids,

Aren’t the Olympic Games exciting? Here I am, at my computer, supposedly working, with the Internet stream from CBC running in the background. It’s hard to get work done when I’d rather be watching Canada win another medal, but I’m trying.

And speaking of Trying…

Being a kid is wonderful, but it’s also hard. Every activity is a new skill to be learned. And it’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t go right. You probably don’t remember when you learned to walk. It seems easy to you now, but there were so many things to learn! You had to be able to stand first, keeping your feet under you, and your body straight enough to avoid falling over. Then you had to keep balanced while lifting one foot to take a step. Then another step, and another. You fell over many times, you got frustrated, you cried, and sometimes it seemed like you’d never get back up and try again.

Did I tell you I was learning to row? It’s the middle of February, so I’m only training on an erg machine right now, but even then it’s pretty challenging. In rowing, going fast isn’t just about how hard you pull the oar, or even how quickly, but the way you perform the whole stroke. Every time you slide the seat up and down the rail, you have think about posture, and balance, and where your hands are. And on every stroke, the little computer display shows you immediately how fast you’d be going if you were on the water.

Let’s just say this – I’m not very fast, and the computer reminds me about it every time I pull the oar. Sometimes, after hundreds of those little reminders, I wonder whether I’ll ever get the hang of it. And I’m not even on the water yet!

My point is, anything you do, no matter how small, no matter how well, always has a possibility of failure. For every three athletes on the medal podium, there are hundreds who didn’t make it. Does that make their effort any less worth it? Should the Jamaican bobsled team stay home just because everyone thinks they have no chance of winning? No. They have just as much right to try as everyone else.

Now, I can’t talk about Trying without remembering what Yoda said to Luke Skywalker: "Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try." Maybe with all those Force powers, the Jedi never have to learn to walk. Or row. But with all respect to Master Yoda, I think there is a Try. I think of Try as having the courage to Do, even when you might Do Not.

There’s a word for that kind of courage – Determination. And whether you’re an athlete at Sochi, or you’re taking a school test, or you’re just trying to get that darn Flappy Bird through one more set of pipes, Determination is what gives you the strength to try again after you fail.

And even if you do fail, Determination reminds you that your effort makes you slightly better. That you’re one step closer to walking, or slowly getting faster even if you’re rowing to nowhere.

Keep on Trying.

Love,
Dad

PS: Go Canada Go!

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About the author: David Raitt

David Raitt is a writer and lover of pop culture. He lives in Oakville. He has also worked as an actor for The Second City, and has written, produced and performed his own sketch comedy, including the Canadian Comedy Award-nominated ALL THE RAGE. Semi-retired from performing, he still teaches improv and communications skills to students and corporate groups through his association with The Second City. Check out Dave's website at http://davidraitt.com or on Twitter @3rdraitt.

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