Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I have such great memories of Olympic athletes. Some of my favorites are figure skater Dorothy Hamill, speed skater Eric Heiden, gymnast Mary Lou Retton, and swimmer Mark Spitz. These Olympians worked steadfastly over many years to achieve their goal. As I began to think of the similarities of their journeys and our own spiritual journeys, I came across a study done by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina. They studied 10 US Olympians to determine the traits they had in common. I think we can learn a great deal by examining those traits and seeing how we can apply them to our own faith journeys.
1. High Motivation and Commitment
They spent many years developing the skills necessary to compete at a high level. They were persistent in seeking to achieve their goals. Their drive was fueled by an inner desire, not an external desire, to accomplish their goal.
2. Optimistic and Positive
Their optimism caused them to look at the athletic glass as "half full versus half empty." They were able to "move on" in the face of disappointment or losses. Rather than becoming disenchanted when their performance was not optimal, the athletes focused on the positive aspects of their performance.
3. Uncanny Ability to Focus
The Olympians had the ability to concentrate or focus on the task at hand and could block out distractions. They could "dial in" and "intensely focus and quiet the mind."
4. The Ability to Handle Stress and Cope with Adversity
They were able to deal with the routine setbacks and anxiety associated with training and competing in developmental and elite levels of competition.
5. Mentally Tough
Mental toughness was another important trait. It was seen in their resilience, perseverance, and the ability to successfully deal with adversity.
When you review the list in the context of spiritual growth, you will see that these characteristics can also be used in our spiritual journey.
1. Let's become highly motivated and committed to our journey with Christ.
2. Let's stay optimistic and positive even in the midst of setbacks and disappointments.
3. Let's develop an uncanny ability to focus on God and his word.
4. Let's work on our ability to handle stress of daily living.
5. When we practice these traits, we will develop a spiritual toughness that will see us through our journey.
To view a 16 minute video of this lesson and learn more about living in strengths through the Strengths of the Spirit, Spiritual Discipline, and the Strength of Time, click the link below.
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