Not the triumph, but the struggle

I’ll be the first to admit that Sporty isn’t one of my top 10 attributes, I once sprained my shoulder while thinking about taking up yoga. Which was why I was taken aback when the father of the modern Olympic Games stopped me in my tracks today. Not only was Pierre de Coubertin the owner of one of the finest moustaches ever to grace my computer screen, he was also speaking directly to me as a writer.

The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.’


Now I’m not saying I hate sport. I actually quite like watching fast people chasing each other around. But it wasn’t until I read Pierre de Coubertin’s words that I stumbled around with the possibility that the worlds elite athletes and I may have something more in common than ill timed blisters and an irrational fear of test tubes.

So I’ve dusted off some of my old Sports Psychology notes (…yep) and set some useful reminders for my writing:

  • Focus your energy on the things you can control. Yourself, your actions and your attitude, everything else is beyond your control don’t waste your time with it.
  • Confidence fluctuates. Anxiety and doubt are a natural part of the ‘sport’ but your attitude towards them is always a choice.
  • Focus on what you’re doing right. Learn from mistakes, rummage through the wreckage, take anything useful from it and move on.
  • Know where you’re weakest. Negative tendencies are only destructive when they go unnoticed. Reset yourself and start again.
  • Strong emotions are part of the process. Use them as creative masterclasses.
  • Process not outcome. Focus on improving your art, let the outcome sort itself out.
  • Disappointment comes with the territory. Park it and move on.

There is an old saying, ‘Obstacles do not block the path, they are the path,’ and as Pierre de Coubertin so wisely said, ‘The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.’ I guess when it comes down to it, nothing else really matters.