In a former life I was a competitive gymnast. So, I was glued to the television to watch this generation of Olympic hopefuls compete for one of five spots on the 2012 Olympic team. Only the first place winner at the Olympic Trials is guaranteed a spot. The rest are selected by a committee of coaches, former elite gymnasts, and other gymnastics royalty.
I. The Standout Performances
There were several stand-out performances in the sense of purely remarkable gymnastics (McKayla Maroney on vault, Gabby Douglas on bars, Kyla Ross on beam, Jordyn Wieber on floor, Ali Raisman all-around) but this is fairly standard in the sport. Gymnasts are good at what they do. Period.
II. The More Compelling Performances
The more compelling performances, for me (and for the crowd, given the ovations, applause, and tears) were the less successful ones, and how these were handled in the aftermath. Nastia Liukin, former Olympic all-around gold medalist, was unsuccessful in her efforts to make the Olympic team this time around. On bars, her specialty, she fell - hard - on both a release move and her dismount. But here's the thing: she got up, and finished her routine when she was not required to and when finishing, even if done perfectly, would not have earned her a spot on the team. Rebecca Bross, one of our top Olympic hopefuls just a year or so back, also took a hard fall on an already-injured knee and got back up to finish anyway, as she set out to do.
III. The Lesson
These girls are fighting for a spot on the Olympic team. Arguably more significant than what each of us do in our everyday. But I wonder how much would change - how much more compelling we would be, as law students, young lawyers, associates, and partners - if we could employ just a tiny percentage of the determination, drive, and fearlessness that is engrained in these young girls from an early age. How impressive would you be to employers (potential and actual), clients, and colleagues if you worked harder than the rest, got up when you were unquestionably down, and walked away every day with something to be proud of.
IV. Olympic Trials State Of Mind
Let's call it the Olympic Trials state of mind. And let's try it for a while. Let me know if you see results.
Desiree Moore is the President and founder of Greenhorn Legal, LLC. Greenhorn Legal offers intensive practical skills training programs for law students and new lawyers as they transition from law school into their legal practices. Ms. Moore is also an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and was an associate at the law firm of K&L Gates. She can be found on Twitter at @greenhornlegal.