Don Akers's Blog
Turning Talent Into Performance

The Olympic Experience

“Enjoy your Olympic experience.” That’s what the volunteers at the Olympics, the staff at the hotel, and people in the stores keep saying. It seemed a bit strange–as if they had all been to the same customer service seminar. But the Olympic experience, at least my Olympic experience–is different.

A Pause In The Flow of the River of Humanity

The games are great. World-class athletes, over-the-top sports fans, and news media crews from all over the planet, the best of the best competing on difficult courses, with bigger crowds than they have at any other event–well that was predictable.

But it’s the crowd, the vibe, the energy that makes this experience Olympian. It’s restorative to the body, mind, and soul to be around so many people who know where they’re going and going there happy.

The Olympics is way cooler than I ever imagined–better than I thought it could be.

Whistler Village Concert

I’m staying in the Whistler Village. In the street there is a never-ending, never stopping river of humanity flowing in both directions. The river moves briskly. With people going in both directions on both sides of the streets, you’d think it would be chaos, but this crowd is different.

The crowd is smart and respectful. Rarely do you find anyone stopped in the river, and never at a busy intersection. At the events, going through security, everywhere. People keep moving. There are no sheep in this crowd. It moves baby, and it feels good.

The people are fit, wearing ski gear and team uniforms from this and past Olympics. They look like retired–former and current athletes–and everyone is in such great shape.

Crowd At The Men's Downhill Event

At the events you’ve got long walks up the mountain, security, and more climbing to get near the event. Perfect for this crowd–far from slowing you down, they pull you along and show you the way. They know where they’re going, move when the line does, and they wear the right gear to hang outside in winter weather for hours. Even better, they are psyched without being rude or offensive. No one boos, they just cheer for their guys–it’s so cool.

And everyone is an expert or a novice. Expert at the sport they follow or a novice watching a sport they wanted to see because they have time to fill…this makes for bigger crowds than the athletes see at any other time (except hockey–but they’re pros anyway).

Imagine being an athlete, training in obscurity…running in the morning alone, practicing at all hours to get access to the track or ice rink, then getting to the top of the sport in your country competing at national championship with only hundreds watching. Suddenly you’re at the Olympics being interviewed by twelve television crews before your event performing in front of thousands…that’s why some athletes perform so far over their “ability” and others lose their composure: E-N-E-R-G-Y!

Great Turn Out For The Luge

And it’s contagious.

I feel so pumped up, so ready to go after my life, so willing to compete.

Can it be that simple? If we hang out with people who are going for it, we go for it and get it. They say birds of a feather flock together, and I believe that’s true. But what if birds that flock together become like each other?

Now I’m on the hunt for the crowds that fill my soul, my heart, my mind, and restore my body with the energy of possibility.

As a young man I liked the Olympics, but I only knew them through television. Today I know the Olympics up close. And I love the Olympics.

What if we thought about the energy we get from our “crowd?” What if we choose where we go and who we associate with by the way we feel after we’re around them? Could we make the hard choices to avoid the whiners and crazy makers in our lives?

What if they’re family…? Is it okay to only see them at the places where they’re at their best? Visit one early because they get cranky late or someone else in public to avoid their political pontifications, maybe avoid others if there’s going to be booze around?

Are the people we’re surrounding ourselves with filling our lives and restoring our souls with the juice of life? If not, who’s responsible for choosing better places and crowds to feed us? Who’s going to put “better” sources of energy in our life?

Now, I’m on the hunt for the good crowd, like the people who are in the power punch class at the YMCA at 8 a.m. on Monday. Every time I join them, I leave totally jazzed.

And I’ve decided I’m going to more Olympics for sure.


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