Olympic Level Words of Inspiration

"I swam my brains out."  Mark Spitz said that back when he won gold (and gold and gold and gold and . . . ) in the 1972 Olympics. That quote has always inspired me as a way to remind myself to push as hard as I can at something.  Swim your brains out!  No matter what it is you're trying to do, do it all the way, and push as hard as you can.  But this is an quote by an Olympian that inspires me, and Pat wonders, here, what quotes inspire the athletes?  What do you think?

As you watch the Summer Olympics unfold, wouldn’t you like to know exactly what inspired each of these athletes to such greatness?

If we had an insight into what motivated these men and women to become the physical best at what they do, outperforming thousands of their countrymen and women for a spot on the Olympic team representing their home nations, maybe we could borrow that inspiration and use it to achieve our own levels of greatness, you know?

And even though I probably don’t have the energy for that, I do love to hear the stories behind the Olympians’ stories. I want to understand what it was that spurred these individuals to become what sometimes seems to be super-human men and women. How is it that these individuals were able to push and refine their bodies to such levels that I can barely imagine from my comfy position on the couch?

What prompted them to give up so much – and often from a very early age -- to train and practice so hard to get to this point? We may get a small glimpse of how they became so driven from the human interest stories shared by the television commentators, but there also is much we don’t know.

I have been thinking about this because one of my hobbies is collecting words – not just any words, but words of inspiration.

I’m a rabid collector of quotations. I am captivated by the interesting and inspirational sayings I find in books, newspapers, on the Web, and elsewhere. These thought-provoking adages can be delicious morsels of encouragement, comfort, laughter and sometimes anger.

I have quotes displayed everywhere — on the walls of my office at home and in the workplace, on my refrigerator, near my computer and on my dresser, in my purse and even in the car. I tend to try to share the ones I like best with others and I’m grateful that my friends and family patiently indulge me.

My favorites change on a regular basis. When I graduated from high school, my motto was “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” (Looking back, I’m surprised the emerging feminist in me didn’t insist that the yearbook change the quote to read a “woman’s reach.”) The rest of Robert Browning’s quote is “or what else is heaven for?” One of my current favorites has a similar theme to Browning’s quotation --  Brian Littrell’s “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.”

Next to my computer these days is the fabulous “Holstee Manifesto,” which begins with “This is your life. Do what you love and do it often” and contains at least 16 other separate inspirational exhortations; there’s something in there for almost everyone.

Here’s one that I discovered on a handmade greeting card that keeps me going through personal challenges:

Even in the darkest night

Believe in the wonder

Believe in the light

Believe in your soul

Believe in your insight

Believe that, at last

It will come out right.

Which quotes do you think inspire the Olympic athletes? Which ones inspire you?

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