The 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, just ended but the Olympic spirit lives on as the youth of the world look forward to the next games in PyeongChang, South Korea. I admit I am an Olympic fan, having attended the 1980 games in Lake Placid, NY, and watch the games with enthusiasm. I am constantly struck by the years of dedication and practice of these elite athletes as they experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Their lives are dedicated to their sport – it consumes every fiber of being and their level of preparation is unimaginable to most.
I like to hear the athlete’s perspectives on their performance. Many have ingrained positive thinking, “We did the best we can,” “This was our time,” or giving condolences saying, “It just didn’t come together today” or “We support our team.” While you see the tears of personal disappointment, the words stay strong and the dedication unwavering.
Health care is certainly going through its Olympic time – requiring elite leaders to be their best, constantly preparing, thinking ahead and supporting their team despite the odds. There is much we could learn from these young athletes.
There was one interview with a Canadian slopestyle snowboarder, a new event added to this year’s Olympics, that particularly struck me. At 20 years old, he was expected to win this event. Despite having just broken ribs two weeks earlier, he “rode his heart out” and ended with the bronze medal.
Immediately after his final run, the interviewer asked, what’s ahead for you? Cheerfully, this young innovator in his sport stated, “I’ll be back in four years. This sport is still progressing, there are new tricks to be done, I’ll keep progressing as a snowboarder. This world is progressing and those who progress with it will be laughing.”
Interpretation: This world is progressing and those who progress with it will be smiling with a sense of discovery and amazement with what new things can be accomplished. Now that is the Olympic spirit I hope can be carried forward in health care.
President and CEO
Illinois Hospital Association