Like the Military, Olympians Are Only as Good as Their Support Team

USA coach Herb Brooks, center, looks on from the bench during the closing minutes of the semifinal game against the U.S.S.R at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y.
USA coach Herb Brooks, center, looks on from the bench during the closing minutes of the semifinal game against the U.S.S.R at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Feb. 22, 1980. (AP Photo)

Teammates, if you haven't figured it out by now, the Olympics fire me up. I happen to be a snow nut, so the winter games add additional fuel to my fire. What gets my fire stoked in the first place, though, is what the Olympics remind me of every time I watch them -- that is, what I call the Olympic fundamentals: 

Olympic fundamental #1: You're only as good as your Olympic support team.

Very few of us will ever be an Olympian, but the fundamentals of becoming an Olympian can be used by anyone. They have universal application and, when employed, can take us to our own Olympic podium in life. 

These are fundamental rules of success, whether you're on a quest to participate in the Olympics or play in an orchestra. The fundamental rules don't change; your goals do. Listen to what Miracle on Ice U.S. men’s hockey coach Herb Brooks (pictured above) said: "This team isn't talented enough to win on talent alone." His last words were, "This is your moment. You're meant to be here."

Of course, not all goals are created equal. Some can be obtained within days, others months and the really big hairy, scary ones can take years -- much like the years of commitment required to become an Olympian.

The bigger the goal, the more important your support team is. My new favorite Olympian, freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau (Canada's first Winter Olympic gold-medal winner on Canadian soil) said it best moments after winning the men's moguls: "An Olympian is only as good as his support team, and mine was perfect."

What he's saying is that he couldn't have achieved his goal without a whole bunch of others supporting him throughout his journey. He listed his parents, brother, coaches, teammates and even all the people of Canada. Imagine that for a second. If you had an entire country's worth of support behind you in your quest to be the best, what would your goal be?

(Once you have an honest answer, give yourself some time to think about going after that goal, because deep down inside you, there's a big hairy, scary goal waiting for you. You've just got to unlock the chains of fear to get it out and go for it.)

As you watch these Olympics, know that every single one of these athletes has Olympic-sized support behind them. And that support has been with them for a very long time. Whether you're in a SEAL team, swim team or vying for an Olympic berth, you're only as good as your support team.

This, my friends, is what I consider the first Olympic fundamental. Once you've created your Olympic-sized goal, take time to evaluate your support teammates honestly. You're looking for honesty, undying encouragement, a can-do attitude and, above all else, people who believe in you, even when you don't believe in yourself. Find the right support team, and you'll be a force to be reckoned with on your quest for gold. 


Here are my other four Olympic fundamentals:

Olympic fundamental #2: You've gotta believe to achieve.

Olympic fundamental #3: To be the best, you must first learn to do your best.

Olympic fundamental #4: Learn smarter ways to work, then work even harder.

Olympic fundamental #5: Compete but make sure you also complete.

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Alden Mills, creator of the Perfect Pushup, is CEO of Perfect Fitness. Mills went to the Naval Academy, where he went on to become a Navy SEAL. After retiring in 2000, he earned his MBA at Carnegie Mellon. His ultimate mission is to inspire everyone to pursue their own dreams. For more from Mills, check out

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