The Olympics

That is the gold medal for this Olympic games in London and that is the prize they are there for. Watching the TV coverage I wonder if any of  the competing athletes fit into the mold that some of the announcers label them with. We've seen gymnasts who bobble and then shake it off and move on to the next event. We've seen runners and swimmers and a myriad of others who have missed their “gold” and “shake it off and move on to the next event” … These are people who are infused with an entrepreneurial spirit that allows them to strive for their goals and continue – sometimes in spite of their performance and sometimes because of it. I think that anyone performing at the level of an Olympic athlete has only one view and that is to be and do their absolute best and never waver from that thought.

Are they normal in some ways and have their share of doubts and concerns? Certainly, and one of the differences is that they are able to recognize and acknowledge these moments and continue to their own excellence in spite of any errant thoughts.

As a way of  providing insight, here's a relevant story from over 50 years ago:

This fencing story illustrates: A Zen master named Shoju Ronin was visited by a number of swordsmen who wanted to improve their sword-play. His talk over tea inspired them, but they were skeptical. They believed their rigorous training in martial arts skills made them superior in the world of real competition. The Zen Master decided to teach them. But he knew that mere words were not enough to convince them.

So instead of engaging in more conversation, the Ronin challenged them to try to strike him with their swords, while he used only a fan to protect himself. Amazingly, they could not find an opening to attack and eventually had to admit defeat. Another monk who had watched the entire encounter asked how this was possible, since the master had never practiced with a sword. Shoju Ronin answered:

When the right insight is gained and knows no obstruction, it applies to anything, including swordplay. The ordinary people are concerned with names. As soon as they hear one name discrimination takes place in their minds. The owner of the right eye sees each object in its own light. When he sees the sword, he knows at once the way it operates. He confronts the multiplicity of things and is not confounded. (From D. T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, 1959)

Determine the goal, visualize the goal, don't waver from the goal, achieve the goal.