It was the last run of the giant slalom at the Grenoble Winter Olympics in 1968. Jean-Claud Killy was on his last run below me. I was the only one left. It was now or never, the challenge of a lifetime, the opportunity that would never come again.
When the clock hit zero I broke the plane of the timer and began the mile and a half controlled fall that down hill skiing is at the highest levels of competition. The first gate was easy and I turned to the right and tucked my body in tight to cut down on wind resistance. The second gate brushed my shoulder, as close as I could get without running the risk of missing the gate. The pattern continued, first left and then right, with speed picking up to sixty miles per hour and beyond. Finally, the last hill and the feeling of gravity lost as it threw me up into the air a dozen feet and I struggled to land on both skis. Then the finish line and turning the skis so that I stopped short of the barriers throwing snow up on the faithful who had braved the elements to watch this historic event. Where was the timer?How did I place? Did Killy win this one, too? I heard the crowd cheer and someone handed me an American flag. I loosened the skis and began walking into the crowd with hands patting me on the back. Yes, this happened … in my dreams.
Unfortunately, God doesn’t bless all of us with Olympic-level ability. It is easy to hide behind the rationalization that in the ability department we were not so blessed. Oh, but we are. As the kindergartener said, “I know I’m good because God don’t make no junk.” We all have talents and abilities. The first secret to success in life is to get our talents and abilities identified so we know what they are.
Unfortunately, that is just step one. Once we know “what?” then we have to deal
with “how?” Downhill skiers aren’t born with the ability to fly down snow covered hills at 60 mph, nor stock brokers with the ability to pick a “winning” stock. Parents are not born with the ability to be a great mother or father. In every case you have to study and think, and then work at it with dedication and commitment. Perseverance becomes the last key piece of the puzzle. You must hang in there. Talent without dedication, commitment and perseverance is talent wasted.
Consider this a challenge. As you watch the Olympics over the next couple of weeks,
think of all the key ingredients that must come together to make an Olympic athlete. Then look at your own possibilities to succeed in your job, your family, in life. Ask yourself this question, “Am I all that I can be?” Yes, we all have work to do.
Page 2 of 2 - Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.