WIN Article #119 Olympic Motivation!


Olympic Motivation!
By Ben Peterson

The Olympic Trials is a great wrestling event and a great place to see the highest motivations on display. The stakes are high. The commitment is huge by so many. The anticipation is wonderful to watch in the eyes of competitors, family members and fans. The honor of being an Olympian is incredible and we all want a taste of it.

Watching two days of the best USA wrestlers along with over 10,000 fans is an exhilarating experience. Iowa City crowds always make events more intense. They know wrestling. They want their wrestlers to win and they stand strongly behind them. We all can learn from Iowa fans. In fact, let's take their knowledge and enthusiasm as we all follow our US National Teams.

The wrestlers put on a significant show time after time. They were greatly motivated! As a former Olympian, let me express some thoughts which each team member must continue to build for the upcoming Games. To be motivated for the best performance they must get motivation much bigger than themselves. I call it "Olympic Motivations" and they are motivations we all can use.

Selfishness can truly be a great motivator. Exalting ourselves is a strong desire in mankind and it can drive us a long way. The problem is that fatigue, injury, pain, and difficulty can override our selfish drive. This is where we all started in life.

Personal pride can bring us a step further. This is when we learn to do what is respected and right. This is a step past selfishness because it cares about the perspective of others and doing right. However, personal pride can be overcome by something else that satisfies us personally in a greater way. Things like personal pleasure, wealth or prestige will always tempt us to do wrong. But we can learn to be satisfied and rewarded with a job well done.

Family slowly builds as motivation for a maturing child. As we interact with parents, siblings, and extended family members we build confidence, love and respect. Family is bigger than an individual. Keeping thoughts of them is a must no matter what our family unit looks like. We learn to do what is beneficial for others. Family can become our closest and strongest drive.

Team friendship and loyalty adds even another element of motivation. A team is specifically tied to the task of a wrestler, so building strong relationships with coaches and teammates adds vital motivation and stability. Their advice and encouragement are closest in our training and competing. This element must be worked at and invested in.

Community support adds another element. Motivation comes when we identify with our background, where we came from, people we know, appreciate and love. The stronger we know and involve them the more they will follow us and cheer us on. Community has grown for our Olympians from their neighborhoods, schools, community, college, and most likely more. Extra groups we associate with can expand our community like employment, church groups and youth groups. All will intensify our community support. I pray that each of our Olympic Team members have these supports from their past and present associations. It will magnify their Olympic experience.

Country is a huge motivator. Hopefully our Olympians are thinking of patriotism ahead of time. America is not perfect and we do not need to claim such to be proud and anxious to win for America. We just need to love and appreciate America. Patriotism should be worked at after all it is the team unit an Olympian competes for. In speaking to Olympians from other countries, I didn’t have to belittle their country. I could just express appreciation for the privilege of representing a nation so blessed as the USA. I know patriotism is a huge motivator!

One of the saddest things I saw with our national team was men making a USA wrestling team and not receiving increased motivation and purpose. Yes, they would like to win, but they were now on a traveling tour and would always be able to say they were on a “USA Team.” Significant honor comes from just making the team. Some are content with that and just become “tourists.” I pray all our Olympians get above this limited selfish thinking. I pray they let patriotism grow deeply into their hearts and use it to drive them to unusually high levels of training and competition.

The U.S. is so blessed and we are a people that are so blessed. So let us use patriotism in our every day lives and then support our Olympic Teams. We don’t need to compete in the Olympics to show patriotism.

Faith in God can be a key motivation also. God is much bigger than mankind. Many of us wrestlers speak of this motivation. We understand that our life, talents, time and opportunities all come from God. So we want to thank Him. The knowledge that Christ paid the penalty for our sin can build a huge element of appreciation, confidence and determination. We work to thank God.

In reality there are two types of motivation: 1) Selfish exaltation and 2) Saying thank you. There is a proper time to be honored for achievement. We all have received and enjoyed personal rewards for positive actions. But there must come a time of showing appreciation which is bigger than just our satisfaction.

Olympians will major on appreciation as they remember they not only represent themselves, but all of us. What is interesting is the more we remember and express appreciation the more our family, team, community, country and God seem to support us. As we let others know they are important, they will get behind us even more. Listening to the interviews of our Olympic Team members after their final victories tells me that many understand all these motivations and are using them to strengthen their performances.

So join me in prayer for our Olympians that they will use self promotion and pride properly, but also be motivated to say thank you. As they use appreciation to drive them on to new heights they will have the rest of their lives to say thank you. And the more they show appreciation the more we Americans will cheer them on.

Many stopped by my table at the Win Show at the Iowa City Olympic Trials and thanked me for these columns. That is most encouraging. To be complimented is to be encouraged and to be encouraged is to receive energy. I spent nine hours at the WIN Show talking wrestling, signing autographs, taking pictures and selling the new book called, "Road to Gold". I left tired, but also refreshed and excited.

"Road to Gold" is a wrestling book, but also a practical story of encouragement and motivation that ordinary people can benefit from. So take a challenge - read it and live life with renewed inspiration and renewed focus. I am honored so many are telling us they are reading the book which tells the path John and I took to Munich Gold. I know many dads and moms are reading ‘Road to Gold’ to their families. Many coaches are reading it and many grandparents are reading it. Ladies who are not involved in wrestling have said, "I loved every minute of it." What a wrestling family affair. It's really a story of the ups and downs of life. Get a copy and read it with others. You will be encouraged and motivated anew.

Find other articles and a new book called “ROAD TO GOLD” by Ben at: Today Ben & John Peterson run Camp of Champs Wrestling Camps Contact them at: PO Box 222 Watertown, WI 53094 800-505-5099

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