By Kate Bennett, PsyD
The Olympics are infamous for memorable moments of athletes rising to the top and falling in the face of defeat. Sochi is no different. Over the past week, the media inundated individuals with stories and images in attempt to create personal experiences of the Sochi Olympics. And, within all of the coverage, two defining moments arouse: TJ Oshie’s shoot-out win and Shaun White’s fourth place finish. The Olympics are made of highs and lows, which lead to moments of vulnerability when the whole world gets a glimpse of individual character.
TJ Oshie will be most remembered by his comment that the “American heroes are wearing camo.” Rather than soak up the attention he received for a stellar performance, Oshie nodded respect towards others.
Moments after completing his final run, Shaun White embraced fellow competitor and soon-to-be gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov, admitted it was not his night, and hopped a barrier to make one child’s wish come true.
Those were character-defining moments. We received a rare glimpse of the individuals that exist within those incredibly talented athletes. Oshie and White created legacies by being themselves.
While seemingly morbid, a powerful therapeutic exercise is to write ones’ own eulogy. The point is to get people out of their critical minds and re-connect them with passions and values. The eulogy forces individuals to consider how they want to be remembered. Clearly, Oshie and White were speaking and acting from their hearts during those iconic moments. When people stop filtering themselves and focus on how they want to be remembered, the perfect record, gold medals counts, and the number on the scale seem trivial compared to the desire to be known authentically, to feel understood, and to connect meaningfully with others.
Legacies are built upon character, passion, and willingness. They are vulnerabilities transformed into greatness. Legacies are gifts left behind by individuals allowing themselves the greatest gift of all: Living authentically. Sure, the Olympics create a platform for memories; however, legacies are born in moments of greatness and survive due to mutuality among humanity. Allowing others to experience and connect with greatness means allowing them to experience the vulnerability within those iconic moments.
How would your life change if you spent time building and sharing a legacy congruent with your own passions and values?