After 17 days of non-stop sporting action, the Olympics are officially over. The closing ceremonies are complete, the flag was passed on and the torch extinguished until summer Olympic action picks back up in Rio 2016. And we all probably have a lot more free time! The sporting action certainly lived up to all the excitement, but it was the non-sporting extras such as social media, apps, tools and news that also caught the attention of spectators and participants during the games. In addition to  lessons on social media etiquette, by observing the athletes and circumstances of the games the world can learn other rules and lessons to live by.  Here are a select few:

1. Practice may not always make perfect, but it’s still necessary.  It’s very rare that someone or something can be perfect and success takes a lot of hard work. Most of the athletes devoted their lives to make it to the Olympics. Too often, many think that we shouldn’t have to work that hard to be successful, but the reality is that few things in life come easily. As all athletes demonstrated, if you want something badly enough, then you must be willing to do the hard work to get there.

2. Motivation, inspiration and drive are critical for success.  Athletic skill is clearly an important component for excelling at competition, but most athletes in the games exhibited more than just physical excellence.  Their significant achievements can also be credited to continuous motivation, drive and faith in themselves.  They live by the mantras: never settle for just good, always strive to be great and push yourself beyond limits.  For South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, a dramatic feat had already been accomplished by simply him competing in the games as a double amputee.   And USA track athlete  Manteo Mitchell ran the entire 4×400 relay on broken leg.  These incredible obstacles did not stop them from their ultimate dream and their sheer will drove them to success.

3. Teamwork is critical to success. Surround yourself with colleagues, friends and family who will help and support you. In team sports, athletes obviously work together to win, but it is also important to acknowledge examples of non-traditional team events.  Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete ever, thanked his relay team for helping him to win all those medals.  Without them as a supporting cast, he wouldn’t have won as many medals as he did.  Another common sight seen was of the families and coaching staff supporting and cheering the athletes along as if they were themselves competing. This support was critical in contributing to the athlete’s success. No one can truly do it alone.

4. Learn from your mistakes. At the end of practice or their performances, the athletes recapped their mistakes to see what they did wrong and learn how they can be better next time. The USA women’s soccer team lost the World Cup to Japan last year, but when facing them in the Olympics a short time later beat them to win the gold.  Surely they reviewed and watched and analyzed their past matchup to ensure a better performance for the future.   Same is in life where we need to observe ourselves, ask for feedback and measure our actions so we can strive to be more effective in the future.

The Olympics were certainly action packed with all the athletic events we awaited and anticipated. These last two weeks also reminded us that Olympic athletes should be admired not only for their athletic skill, but also for the behaviors and examples they set for us to follow and live by.
What was your favorite Olympic moment or lesson learned?  What will you remember most about these London games?