Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Should You Quit While You're Ahead? ~ Life Lessons From The Olympics

Phelps with one of his
Beijing Gold Medals
Have you been following the Olympics? If you have then you saw the unthinkable happen in the pool Saturday. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, head to head in the 400m IM (That's the one where they go back and forth four times with four different strokes.) Phelps and Lochte were expected to duel it out for gold and silver, leaving everyone else to chase the bronze.

That isn't what happened.

Instead, Phelps barely scraped into the finals and didn't manage to make it onto the medal stand at all.

Does that less than spectacular showing take anything away from his stellar performance four years ago?

Or consider Nastia Liukin, the winner of the gold medal in women's gymnastics individual all around competition in Beijing. She attempted to make the team again this year and was unsuccessful.

Nastia Liukin at 2008
National Championships
(Photo by TheBostonianLonghorn)
Do people now think less of her as a gymnast because she was unable to achieve the same thing she had four years prior?

Unfortunately, for some people it does.

I was sitting next to my brother when Phelps touched the wall fourth in his race. He remarked, "Well, there goes Phelps."

Two of the most amazing athletes of the past decade and their memory could be forever marred by the fact that their last attempts were not as incredible as their most successful one.

That begs the question, should you quit while you're ahead? For most things, I think no. If you're a person who gambles, however, it's probably pretty sound advice.

Personally, I applaud Liukin and Phelps for continuing in their sports. Why should an incredible accomplishment mark the end of a career?

What if JK Rowling never wrote another book? What is George Lucas and Steven Spielberg had stopped making movies after their first big hits?

No one expects actors to stop acting just because they won an Oscar, so I'm not sure where this idea that athletes should stop at the height of their game came from. I don't think we should ever stop doing what we are passionate about and what we love.

What do you think? Has Phelps diminished in your view because of his loss? Do you think people should stop while they're ahead, leaving the last impression as a spectacular one?

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