July 19, 2008

Lessons from the Olympic Trials, part 3



After running the fastest time ever in the 100 meters at the trials (a wind-aided 9.68, so it won't go into the record books), Tyson Gay went on to break the American record with a time of 9.77.

A week later, during a routine quarterfinal heat of the 200 meters, Gay collapsed on the track in pain. At first, it was believed he had had a cramp in his hamstring, but the injury was later revealed to be a hamstring strain.

Because of the strict rules used to select athletes for the Olympic team, it doesn't matter that Gay is the fastest American this year in the 200 meters, or that he is the defending world champion. Only the top three finishers in the race get to go to the Olympics in that race.

In an interview after the event, Gay acknowledged that he had felt a little "tweak" in his hamstring earlier in the day. When asked if he was worried about it, Gay said he had spoken to his coach.

"He told me if I feel anything, don't run. But you know of course, me being an athlete. . . sometimes you think you're superman at times and I should have made the call. But I tried to run anyway. And I have a mild hamstring pull."

What lesson is there here for you and I as speakers?

Trust your gut!

We ignore those twinges of intuition because we don't want to be superstitious.

Or we take the gig because we think we need the money or the stage time.

Or we agree to speak because we don't want to let someone down.

I'm not saying here that we should avoid failure at all costs. Living our lives or running our businesses in a way that never involves taking a risk is the path to stagnation. Mistakes and failures help us learn and grow. However. . .

When the feeling is persistent, and you try to talk yourself into the positive aspects of the situation and you really, really try to believe it and you still feel the foreboding, sometimes you need to follow that instinct.

The risk of trusting your gut is that you may never know if you made the right decision.

Had Tyson Gay not run the 200 meters in the trials, he still wouldn't be competing in the 200 at the Olympics. But he might have been in better shape for his other races when get got there. Now he'll never know.

So trusting your gut takes an enormous risk in itself, whether your decision is a negative or affirmative one.

I like the comment Devin Bean left when I wrote about trusting your gut before:

"It's funny how we trust our feelings when they say we're hungry, or when they say we're tired, but not when they say we're not ready for some situation, or when we feel as if we shouldn't do something."

Steve Pavlina wrote about his decision-making process on his blog a while back. It's a very simple process that takes less than 60 seconds. He asks himself the question, "Is this really me?"

Try trusting your gut. See if you can become better at reading your intuition and making hard decisions a little easier on yourself.

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1 comments. Please add yours! :

Devin Bean said...

Just catching up on some posts I missed earlier - thanks for the mention!

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