Have you been watching the Olympics? I've loved watching the Winter and Summer Olympics since I was a kid. The “best of the best” athletes from all over the world are competing in over 100 winter events, giving their very best effort.
Olympic athletes are the epitome of the power of intention and focused effort. These athletes spent the last four years training day and night so they could earn the right to compete against the very best athletes in their specific sports. These athletes compete in only one sport and often in just one event. Every waking moment for four years is spent preparing for their event which often lasts only a minute or two. They’re even preparing while they sleep by visualizing their event over and over.
For those of you that remember the opening sequence of ABC’s Wide World of Sports (yes, I’m that old). The video sequence shows athletes succeeding and failing as the announcer dramatically quotes “the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition…”
This is what the power of intention and focused effort is all about. Athletes spend their entire life preparing for their event which leads to incredible elation or crushing defeat in a matter of seconds.
What would your life or business be like if you focused all of your effort and intention like Olympic athletes do?
During last nights broadcast, Tom Brokaw did an amazing documentary about the Cold War and intense competition between the United States and Russia. The story began after World War II when Russia began building up it’s military force and developed long-range missiles. The US ramped up the development of long-range missiles and eventually both countries had over 6000 missiles pointed at each other. The power of focused effort at work.
The Cold War also turned into the space race of the 1950’s and 60’s. Growing up, I loved watching Walter Cronkite narrating every minute of the early space flights. It was amazing to watch the huge rockets blast off sending our astronauts into space.
One of the most amazing examples of the power of intention and focused effort in my lifetime was when John F. Kennedy declared in 1961 that we would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
If you weren’t around when he made that announcement, you wouldn’t know how bold of a declaration that was. You see, in 1961 computers barely existed. The engineers that designed and built the spacecrafts used sliderules, not computers to do their calculations. In fact, the calculator didn’t even exist at that time.
For the US to design and build a spacecraft that could get to the moon and return was just amazing. To accomplish that feat in just a few years with very little technology is even more amazing.
The feat was accomplished because John F. Kennedy set the intention that we were going to achieve this aggressive goal by the end of the decade. The country rallied around his intention and a focused, coordinated effort helped us achieve that goal in July 1969. I believe the fact that we were out to “beat the Russians” kept us motivated and focused on our goal. This is an important factor to consider. We’ve all gotten excited and been motivated to achieve a goal but most of the time we run out of steam after the initial surge of adrenaline and never achieve the goal. Can you stay New Year’s resolutions?
The infamous quote by Neil Armstrong “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” sums up the magnitude of this accomplishment. Landing a man on the moon has been in the dreams of people forever and always seemed impossible. A long, focused effort and a single intention helped us overcome the impossible and technology has been advancing at lightening speed ever since.
To me, looking back on the Cold War era, there was such a sense of teamwork and focus by our entire country because we had to beat the Russians, no matter what it took. We had a united cause and mission unlike today where our country is deeply divided. This proves to me that when you set an intention and focus your effort, anything is possible.