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Aug 07

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How great are you?

As we enjoy the incredible courage, perseverance, and (let’s be honest here) rippling muscles of our Olympic stars, it’s interesting to ponder which atheletes we like best. And why?

Is it Jess Ennis for her delightful girl-next-door down-to-earth smile, or her ability to excel at seven disciplines whilst carrying the expectations of a nation? Is the exquisitely side-burned Bradley Wiggins for his repeated successes, or his insistence he’s just a normal bloke? Or perhaps Usain Bolt for his exuberant personality or wonderfully unapologetic honesty?

It’s more interesting to consider why rather than whom. The traits we admire in others are the traits we value most highly. And those traits are likely to be present in our own personalities (whether hidden, latent, and unknown, or explicitly recognised by ourselves and others).

So if you liked the sound of the judoka helping to subdue a drunken fan who threw a water bottle at the men’s 100m sprint final, perhaps you value taking responsibility or protecting excellence. If you are a fan of the little boy who spontaneously demanded a hug from the triumphant Andy Murray at Wimbledon, perhaps you value physical affection or spontaneity particularly highly.

Once we’ve recovered from the shock of realising we, in some way, share greatness with our sporting (and audience participatory) heroes, we can exercise that bit of our greatness. Our strengths are the things we do that make us feel stronger. Do it enough and we become as powerful as our Olympian heroes.

And the more clarity we have about who we are, the easier it is to communicate our strengths to others. (With special thanks to Ollie from Cokethorpe for an interesting conversation that provoked this post ).

PS If the Olympics leaves you cold, and you’re still reading this, I’m flattered. The principle is of course transferrable to anyone we admire, real or fictional, alive or dead, famous or not.

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