Watching athletes’ dedication, determination, and hard-work culminating into Olympic 2012 gold medals is exhilarating. Who doesn’t admire the young competitors as they push themselves to surpass all others in speed, agility, strength, and grace?

There are so many stories of athletic excellence. Women especially are attaining unprecedented levels. And then there is Michael Phelps. Come on now, winning 19 gold medals in a career is just showing off.

It all makes me wonder what I do better than anyone else. I sat down to make a list. After staring at the computer for several minutes I realize I have zip, zero, nada. Sure, there are a few things I do well – I can make a toilet sparkle – but there isn’t one thing I do that is worthy of world gold medal status.

And maybe that’s OK.

One thing I know from interviewing hundreds of people through my 40 plus years in writing is that those who attain extraordinary levels of achievement in a given area are very focused. Most of their energy is targeted at a particular point. That means that something, or everything, else has to give. You can’t devote 90% of your energy in one area and be very balanced.

A recent prestigious award ceremony reminded me of this point. Several recipients commented on how they were proud of their professional achievements but admit they weren’t much of a spouse or parent. How could they be if they were never home? Most of their waking hours were on the job.

My mom used to tell us she’d be satisfied if we were well-rounded “B” students with grade-A characters. She was more concerned about the people we were than what we did.

Whatever I do, I give it my best. I believe I’m obligated to care for the things and talents I’m blessed with but never more than the people in my life, and I’m greatly blessed with people. I’d love to write a best-seller, however I’m more concerned with my loved ones knowing how much I treasure them. They are my gold medals.

©Mary K. Doyle

(Photo by Lex Alexander. Used with permission.)

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