Saturday, August 11, 2012

Success Is Not Always Rewarded With A Trophy

On the Thames

Great Britain has certainly had the Olympic spirit these last two weeks. Everyone talks about the London Olympics. While we haven't attended any of the events, we catch glimpses of the games on TV newscasts and occasionally at noon or during dinner time. I've been thinking a lot about these fantastic athletes from so many different countries.  What an honor for them to be here in London! They are the world's best at what they do.

We had to go to London on Monday and walked through Hyde Park, where some of the rowing, distance swimming, and triathalon competitions are being held. Large grandstands have been erected just for the Olympics, and huge outdoor screens were installed so that thousands of people without tickets could participate in Olympic celebrations.

Olympic volunteers waiting to help tourist
London Victoria Station Olympic signs

This way to the Olympics

"Bobbies" and friends in Hyde Park

The Olympic venue at the Serpentine in Hyde Park
Ready for the Women's 10K swim competition

Olympic Logo - London 2012

Sunday, the London Summer Olympics 2012 will end and the winners will go down in history. Tonight, however, watching some late television, I saw a British relay team disqualified for running outside the lane. I saw a false start that had to be called back. I saw a woman sprinter fall down on the track in the middle of the race.  And I watched a pole vaulter fail on his final attempt to achieve a medal.  Not all Olympians receive medals.  Only three medals -- bronze, silver, and gold -- can be awarded in each event, when three or four times that many or more athletes  may enter.  All are winners, though, just having been there and participated.  They have practiced, competed, qualified and been selected as the very best to carry the hopes and flags of their home countries before the world. There are no losers in the Olympic Games. Some didn't achieve they way they had hoped, but no one was booed.  Even coming in last in the Olympics is an honor.  There is great respect for all who enter, compete, and try.

Athletics can teach us a lot about life.  In the end, it's not about the competition, it's not about the race. It's about showing up and doing our personal best, no matter where we are or what others are doing.  Beyond athletics, history records many examples of successful people, some who had failed many times before finally succeeding -- Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and even Winston Churchill, who asked the British in WWII to "never give up, never, never, never, never give up."  I appreciate the example of people who keep trying and won't give up. They enrich and bless the world.

Consider the short life of Joseph Smith. He had many false starts that didn't work out -- the Kirtland Bank, Missouri, and Zion's Camp.  He was thrown off course many times, tarred and feathered, jailed on false pretenses, and even deserted by some of his trusted friends.  But he never gave up.  He knew what he knew.  He knew what he'd seen and experienced, and he knew what he had been called to do.  And he endured!  Because of his faith, obedience, effort,and endurance, and through the grace of God,  the Lord blessed him with many revelations and he became the prophet of the restoration.  The world needed Joseph to restore the gospel, and they still need his message. Without Joseph Smith, we would not know who God is or his true nature. We'd be tangled up in the creeds of the third and fourth centuries now central to the beliefs of Catholic and Protestant churches. Without Joseph Smith, the Church of Jesus Christ would not have been restored.

I love Joseph Smith for his faith, for his obedience and persistence, and for giving his very best to what was asked of him. I respect and admire every person who works hard and does his best, including the many remarkable and outstanding athletes who have gathered in London the past two weeks.
Not all the athletes will take home medals from the Olympics.  In fact, most will not, but they are nevertheless heroes for giving their best. Few people can compete at their level. I certainly can't -- not even close. But there are many things I can do, have been asked to do, and I should try to do my very best.

It matters not to me if my children or grandchildren are Olympic athletes. I just want them to try hard, be happy, and do the best they can at what they do.  We can all be winners if we choose well, don't give up, and try our best -- and that's good enough!  We can find joy in the journey, and we don't need the medals.
Success is not always rewarded with a trophy.               ~ Don~

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