When it comes to running, I am 100 percent pure-bred, authentically average. I love to run, but I don’t ever expect any record-breaking times. Did that woman in a hot-dog costume just pass me on the course? Sure did! As the Olympic games are upon us and we watch and admire the best-of-the-best, I challenge us to recognize and celebrate the Everyday Olympians among us: the “average” who always show up for life, no matter the odds. Are you an Everyday Olympian? Everyone is eligible to join the team, if we can only get past our perfectionism mindset. Who’s in?
Is being average our greatest fear?
Do you fear being average? Heaven forbid we have average smarts, average athletic skills, average looks, average income, and even average kids. Yet elementary school math teaches us that half of the population is at the median or below. So why the disdain? Perfectionism is our nemesis. It is unattainable and relentless. Many people give up their goals with the prospect of being “average,” but Everyday Olympians strive for progress over perfection. They understand that being average is sometimes a part of the journey. Everyday Olympians carry on no matter their rank or prestige.
Math lesson aside, how do we interpret average? Lazy? Unsuccessful? Forgettable? Mediocre? These words are cruel and deflate our confidence. When we focus on results rather than growth, we often attach labels that are not only inaccurate but self-defeating. Everyday Olympians adopt a beginner mindset. They lose the attachment to results and embrace the journey like a beginner. Do you want to be an Everyday Olympian? Try new things and stay open to possibilities. Persist despite obstacles. Applaud the effort. Everyday Olympians embrace their reality, move past insecurity, show up, and give it their best.
Underdog courage brings the win
Do you have the courage of an Everyday Olympian? When my daughter ran track, she was always near the back of the pack, but I was the proudest parent in the stands. It is easy to enter a race when we are slated to win. It is much harder when we are expected to finish last. My daughter was the underdog, but she still showed up. Every. Single. Time. She is my Everyday Olympian. There is a reason why crowds cheer the last-place finisher as much as the winner: Underdog courage is inspirational. Everyday Olympians may not win the race, but they inspire.
As we watch the Olympic games in the upcoming weeks, I challenge us to redefine success. Success is not merely being elite. Success is carrying on when the odds are against us. Success is grit in the face of uncertainty, adversity, and insecurity. Choosing to show up consistently when you are “average” is not average at all: It is exceptional. Everyday Olympians understand that courage comes from stepping onto the track, persisting, and crossing the finish line. In a world that celebrates winning, let’s choose to honor the perseverance of the “average” Everyday Olympian. First place or last, courage and tenacity always bring the gold.
Will you join the team?
Michelle Housel is an internal medicine physician and can be reached at Happy Whole Health.
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