Monday, August 25, 2008

Issue 482 - Proper Preparation Prerequisite!

I hope everything is ok where you are.

So, the Olympics are over. Beijing is left in the memory and London is now the official Olympic Host.

Our organising committtee has already said that London won't try and compete with Beijing on scale, and in our segment of the closing ceremony, London chose a London Bus and umbrellas as our defining images.
Oh, and David Beckham, who has never competed at an Olympics, nor even won anything in international competition. Sir Steve Redgrave, who won gold at 5 different Olympics, was sitting commentating for the BBC...

In all fairness, I think London is right to say right from the go that it won't compete with Beijing.
China is a one party state which can do what it wants with its money, whereas the British government is (theoretically at least) more accountable!

London can now carry on preparing without the pressure of topping what China did.
That's the subject of today's last missive about the Games - preparation.

It takes years to prepare to host an Olympics, and all the athletes who took part this time around had to prepare.
Not just for the 4 years since the previous one, but most athletes spend their whole career preparing. An obvious example is the early morning starts before work, the extra jobs they take on to pay for the training and equipment and then more training in the evening. That's not once a week, but every day. Then there are the families, sacrificing time and all sorts of things to help support the athlete.

Then the athlete has to join an elite programme, which will mean moving home, and committing years towards Olympic qualification, giving up careers in many cases.

Then the elite programmes have to be created in the first place, staffed with the correct coaches and facilities, etc.

As for the Games themselves, think of all the volunteers needed to make the 2 week event run smoothly. Some set pieces in the opening and closing ceremonies had thousands of people who had been rehearsing for a year!

All those areas of preparation, and none of it can be missed.
If an athlete misses a single training session, that work has to be made up somewhere. At the top of world sport, the differences between gold and coming 4th are marginal, and it's often the marginal differences in preparation that make the difference.

It's the same in life when going for a goal.
Yes, you can set off all willy nilly, working it out as you go, because you have the flexibility I mentioned 2 weeks ago.
However, the more prepared you are, the better able you are to cope with the external circumstances I mentioned last week.

In life, just like the Olympics, you'll find that the successful people all have certain things in common, and one is preparation.
Don't overdo it though, there's something else all successful people have in common, and it's that they take action.
If you spend forever preparing and don't ever act, you'll get nowhere.

Ok, roll on London 2012. I'm semi tempted by the archery, as I did notice some old fat people taking part, but what made me laugh was that after they took their shot, they used binoculars to see what they scored!!

Right, thats it for this week, I'm off to prepare a cup of hot chocolate.

'Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. If you know anyone else who you think would enjoy the Great Gordino Newsletter, please pass it on to them!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Issue 481 - Now That's Gotta Hurt!

I hope Monday finds you well.

As you can probably imagine I have been torn between which life nugget to draw from the week's worth of Olympic action.

Maybe it could be the womens 3000 metre steeplechase - making its' first appearance at the games, it marks the near final equality between mens and womens events in track and field.
I say near equality as the women still do the heptathlon instead of the decathlon of the men. There is no good reason for this that I can see, and it has been a 30 year slog to get these events deemed 'suitable' for women.

Blimey even the pole vault is a recent introduction, and yes Yelena Isinbayeva did win gold, and yes she broke the world record again!

However, what I'm going to talk about today is injury.
Michaela Breeze, Britain's only weightlifter at the games made a lot of news when she competed despite a bad back, yelping in pain as she carried on with no chance of a medal, before sinking to her knees in tears.

Paula Radcliffe has only ever run 9 marathons.
She has won 7 of them, and is the world record holder. The only 2 she hasn't won were the 2004 Olympics race and now the 2008 Olympics race, on both occasion through injury.

The American Deena Kastor had to stop in the same race too. She said she heard something 'pop' in her foot, and in fact it had broken.

Another American Sarah Hammer was in the middle of the pack in a cycle race when another rider crashed, taking Hammer out and breaking her collarbone.

Probably the biggest Olympic injury this time though is for China's Liu Xiang.
Ever since he won gold in the 110 metres hurdles in Athens, he was the face of the Beijing Games, and despite China prodigious medal haul, he was their biggest hope inside the main stadium.

It wasn't to be though, as his ankle was injured, and despite lining up at the start in obvious pain and distress, he was unable to compete.
So, that's a few injuries there.

Last week I wrote about the 'now or never' moments that define Olympians lives, that in 'regular' lives the pressure is not that intense, we can work towards our goals with much more flexibility.

This week my point is about how outside circumstances can send us off course.
When you think about all the years of work, sacrifice and dedication put in by the gold medal winners, then think about the athletes who got injured. They made the same sacrifices and effort, and in the end they didnt even get a fair crack at it.

Is that unfair?
Well, no. It's not unfair, it's life.

As we work towards our goals, we never know what may be around the corner waiting to derail us.
It may be something we can recover our goal from, but it may be that we can't.

It's the acceptance of that which can make a huge difference to our contentment in life, and whether we even try in the first place.
We can't expect life to be all gold medals and glory, it may just as easily be an injured ankle at just the wrong time. That's just the way it is, and it's how we react that counts.

Ok, that's it for this week, I'm off to polish up my song 'I Tore My HamStrings, You Tore My HeartStrings, What Am I Gonna Do?'

'Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. If you know anyone else who you think would enjoy the Great Gordino Newsletter, please pass it on to them!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Issue 480 - Striking Gold

I hope everything is ok where you are.

Well the Beijing Olympics are well underway, so if ever there was a time when I'd be talking about sport, it would be now!

I love the tradition and history of sport - I remember bits of the 1976 Olympics, and from then on have watched them all avidly except 1996 when my entertainment work prevented me from watching.

The British team has fired off 2 early gold medals, and both of them break long waits.
On Sunday Nicole Cooke won the womens cycling road race, the first gold medal by a Welsh athlete in a British vest since 1972, and this morning Rebecca Adlington won the 400 metres freestyle, the first Gold in swimming by a British woman for 48 years.

Of course one reason why these long runs develop is that the Olympics are only held once every 4 years, and for each event there will only be one winner every 4 years.
Ok, that may sound obvious, but when you hear about the years of training that the winners do, day after day, aiming for that one moment, let's not forget that all the other athletes do too!
For the winner it ends in gold, but for the others it doesn't, but they have trained just as hard.

I remember watching Cooke in the Athens Games.
She was a live medal prospect, but her problem was that road racing is a team game, even though it's contested individually. What that means is that if you don't have support riders to take the workload for you, the other teams will use tactical riding to overwork you.

In Athens this is exactly what happened to Cooke. The other teams were able to have their main riders take it easy, while their support riders attacked Cooke all the time.
She finished 5th.

This time the GB team had better support riders, who were able to let Cooke take it easy and save herself for her sprint finish.
I've seen her in interviews over many years, and she is usually calm and articulate.
For the whole day after her win she was glazed over, and talking like she was drunk! It must have been one almighty cocktail of hormones raging round her!
You could tell it was a 'brain does not compute' moment for her!

Winning a gold is a moment that will etch your name in time. It may be that only fans of the particular sport remember the names vividly, but the record book is permanent.

Yes, all the losing athletes trained hard and lost, but you will never win Olympic Gold *without* doing the hard work and knowing you may lose.

They get one chance.
Some people go to a few Olympics some people only go to one, and this brings around the point I want to make today.

Whereas the Olympic athletes have that one moment when it all matters, for us everyday plebs, things are not that high octane.
In our lives, we get the chance to try things over and over, if we make a mistake we can just do it again.
Yes of course sometimes we have to make quick decisions which may have huge impact, but generally speaking we can look well into the future, set our goal and start working towards it.
The flexibility that we have, is a luxury that many Olympians would love to have, so since we have it, shouldn't we make sure we are using it?

I know some readers don't like sport as much as I do, but if you get the chance while the Olympics are on, take a moment - pick one gold medal winner, or pick an athlete that finishes 4th.
Consider all the work that went in over many years for that one moment, ending in gold or 4th.

Then consider the flexibility that you have in your own goals - it makes them seem a whole lot easier knowing that you don't only have a once in 4 years moment to get it right!

Ok, that's it for this week, I'm off to consider the flexibility of my chocolate eating schedule...

'Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. If you know anyone else who you think would enjoy the Great Gordino Newsletter, please pass it on to them!

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Issue 479 - Should Welfare Be Free?

I hope Tuesday finds you well.

Today I want to mention something I spoke about 2 weeks ago, concerning the benefit system here in the UK.

Firstly though, I will just mention Yelena Isinbayeva. Since last week she has broken her world record again.
With the Olympics starting this week, I wouldn't bet against her doing it again.

Ok, back to the benefits...
The government has announced swingeing changes to the benefit system.

By the way, what a great word that is, 'swingeing', not to be confused with 'swinging' which is something that consenting adults do with strangers.
In fact I went to a swinging party once - everyone stood around in a circle and threw their keys into the centre, the idea being that it's a mystery as to who's keys you pick up.
I got an AA box on the M25...

Not true, just a little joke there.

The swingeing change is that people who have been claiming benefits for a year will have to do 4 weeks of unpaid work, work like cleaning up graffiti and so on.
Anyone claiming benefit for 2 years may have to do this work full time.

I think this should have been done years ago.
Of course it has created an uproar, amongst the benefit claimants. A couple were interviewed on the TV, and they were moaning 'why should I have to work for it?'

Of course the reason is that their benefit is paid for by the working taxpayer, so why should the person on benefit get it for free?

The crux of the problem is that the majority, not all, but the majority of people on benefit are too thick to understand this basic concept. If you asked them where the benefit money came from, they would not have the faintest idea, and they have been brought up in families of a benefit culture, i.e. no need to go to school, just live on benefits.

In fact here's something else scary I read, that 100,000 kids leave school each year here unable to read or write!!

You have to take that figure with a pinch of salt, it looks suspiciously rounded, and you also have to wonder that if the brainiacs that worked out that figure put the energy into teaching reading and writing in the first place, the problem might not be so bad!

In days gone by if you made a mistake in writing, you might get a clip round the head with a blackboard wiper, and told to write 300 lines until you learnt it.
Today, you get sent on a trip to Disneyland.
If you're really bad and maybe punch the teacher, your family will probably get a trip too.

As a result, 100,000 leave school each year as dunces, who spend their life living on benefits paid for by those who went to school and work for a living.

This is why the importance of education and responsibility cannot be overstated.

I was talking to someone the other day about my book, 'Transform Your Life in 21 Days!'
I cover this ground in the book, plus other subjects about goal achievement and success theory.
I am genuinely proud of it, and I re-read it the other day. It still stands up 5 years after I wrote it, and I believe and use the theories today just as I did then.

I've decided that to celebrate it being 5 years since I wrote it, I will offer it for $5.
On the sales page you'll see it is priced at $27.
As it happens I think that's a good price, but the $5 mark may get it into more hands, which is fine by me.

If you go to the normal page, then click on my picture at the bottom, and it's actually a link to the $5 page.

Ok that's it for this week!

'Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. If you know anyone else who you think would enjoy the Great Gordino Newsletter, please pass it on to them!

Transform Your Life In 21 Days:

Make money writing about The Beijing Olympics?

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