AP over 2020: Lessons from a Postponed Olympics

Last week, the 2020 Olympics became (unofficially) 2020ne. Officially, #Tokyo2020 will keep its name, despite Opening Ceremonies now rescheduled for July 23, 2021. It is the right decision, and I fully expect it will be a promised bright light at the end of this long worldwide tunnel… but my heart goes out to everyone who’s had to put dreams on hold for an extra year.

Watch my interview on ABC6 News about the Olympic postponement

When the world shut down, 470 sailors were only days away from starting their 2020 Worlds—for US teams, the final Olympic Trials event. Instead of sailing the regatta they’d been laser-focusing on for years, teams packed up and headed home.

Going into a final Trials event, you have no idea what your life will look like after it’s over. Continue to train toward an even bigger challenge, the biggest regatta of your life—or return to “normal” life? Now athletes have to live on that knife-edge of uncertainty for months longer than expected, without access to the most dependable energy outlet of all: training.

So what can those of us watching from home learn from these Olympic hopefuls, as we deal with similar uncertainties about the days and months to come? Here are four lessons from sailing in a shifty breeze, along with my heartfelt best wishes to everyone—especially those of you whose Olympic dreams are now postponed.

1. “Keep your bow pointing toward the mark.” What really matters? (For me it’s family, writing, and time on the water, not necessarily in that order.) Focus on that, rather than the white noise of the news cycle.

2. “Control what you can, and let go of what you can’t.” We have no say in the weather or the wind or the virus, but we can control our own reactions to each. So heed the warnings, stay home, and help stop the spread—even though it means sacrificing social interaction, sailing, and so many other things we used to consider as an essential and no-brainer part of every day.

3. “Make your own luck.” Change means opportunity. What can you build out of this? What have you been thinking of trying? It’s the perfect time to experiment!

4. “Win the regatta, not the race.” Don’t get caught up in petty squabbles; be patient with each other, strive to cooperate rather than compete (at least until we can all get back out on the race course again), and take the long view. What will still seem important six or twelve months from now? Focus on that, and try not to let all the other details consume too much energy.

Just like a sailboat race, I like to think that the better we perform now, the shorter this sail-less phase will be. Stay safe (and #stayhome), all. Can’t wait to cross tacks and jibes again with you, once we make it past this.

On Sale Now

As a very small attempt to help entertain you all until we can go sailing again, Game of Sails: an Olympic Love Story ebooks are now on sale for 99 cents! As one reviewer put it, “Game of Sails will have you sniffing for salt air and rooting for the underdog.” And isn’t that exactly what we all long to do right now? (Over the next week, the price will gradually climb back up to $3.99, so download yours ASAP.)

Feel free to add your own tips in the comments below, or send me an email. Thanks for reading!

2 Replies to “AP over 2020: Lessons from a Postponed Olympics”

  1. Good to keep the bow pointed in the right direction…and being patient with each other is the best advice. Plenty of stress to go around without taking it personally.

    1. Agreed, John. And you are one of the masters at both! Thanks for the comment.

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