An Olympic Lesson On Leading, Living, And Sage-ing That You May Not Know

Jann FreedLeading, Sage-ing Leave a Comment

I plan to write one more blog post about my series on Finding Your Why, but it will have to wait until next week.  After watching two weeks of the Olympics, I feel compelled to write this post about leading, living, and Sage-ing.  While there is much to be learned from Olympic athletes, this is a story you may not know.

I rarely watch television.  In fact, for years I said I have not followed a program since “Thirty Something” ended and that was a long time ago.  It resonated with me because this group of close friends were dealing with issues and challenges most of us were addressing in our 30s.  Now I wish the same people would come back 30 years later dealing with issues and challenges most of us are addressing in our 60s! 

During the Olympics, I was almost glued to the television.  While I enjoy watching most of the events (particularly all versions of figure skating), I particularly appreciate the human interest stories that provide insights into who these athletes are and how hard they worked to get this far including the obstacles and injuries many of them had to overcome.  If you were like me, I was tearing up during many of the inspirational stories.

At the end of two weeks, I felt as if Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir were friends of mine.  They seemed to appeal to many people and I thought their commentary was helpful in understanding figure skating at a deeper level.  But there was a “back story” that no one talked about on television.  Where was Scott Hamilton?

Honestly, I did not miss Scott Hamilton, 59, or even think about him until I read this article in the New York Times.  I have often said that if we want to learn about how to or how not to retire, we should watch professional athletes.  They have to deal with “retirement” much sooner than most of us.  Some of them do it well and others not so well.

When I use the term Sage-ing or positive aging, there are major components:

  • Understanding images of aging
  • Embracing one’s mortality
  • Processing life experiences
  • Repairing relationships
  • Creating a legacy

When you read this article about Hamilton, you learn how he has experienced each one of these components.  He has learned to let go in order to move on to what’s next and to do so without bitterness and resentment.  Sure, he has disappointment as many of us do when we move on.  But he acknowledges there is a shelf life and it was time for a new team–a new look and feel for the commentary.  Since Hamilton has dealt with death, he knows “when you learn how to die, you learn how to live” as Morrie says in the book Tuesdays with Morrie (A great book to read about leading and Sage-ing.)  Death puts life into perspective.

When I read the article, I noticed how Hamilton “does not let ego win” as I learned in my research for Leading With Wisdom:  Sage Advice from 100 Experts.  Hamilton said it this way:

“Johnny and Tara were just this phenomenon, and no one was going to stop them,” Hamilton said of Lipinski and Weir’s breakout performance on the NBC Sports Network during the 2014 Sochi Games. “The worst thing I can do is have an ego in all this because it’s not about me. They were such a breath of fresh air.”

Hamilton continues to say:

“I calculated once how many times I fell during my skating career — 41,600 times,” he said. “But here’s the funny thing: I got up 41,600 times. That’s the muscle you have to build in your psyche — the one that reminds you to just get up.”

I encourage you to read this article and ask yourself:

  • Is it time for me to move on?  Has my shelf life expired?
  • Have you developed the muscle in your psyche to help you move on?
  • What is my life plan?
  • Do I need to do some inner work so that my ego is not in the way of personal change and growth?
  • If so, how and when will I do this work?

Remember:  Your ego is not your amigo—–