More Influence Lessons from the Olympic Trials

In the previous post I made reference to a couple influence lessons learned from the recent US Track and Field Championships in Eugene, OR.  In the final days of the event, I learned at least three more, specifically:

  • It’s What You Do AFTER a Loss That Matters: When a loss first hits it’s often intensely disappointing — indeed, sometimes crushing.  Julia Lucas experienced this in the Women’s 5000 meter finals when Kim Conley applied the “take advantage of every opportunity” principle (see previous post) by flying down the last 100 meters to beat Lucas out of a spot on the US Olympic team. But then an interesting thing happened for Lucas. Thousands of messages began pouring through Facebook, Twitter and other outlets expressing both sympathy and encouragement. Her loss spoke to something universal in the human experience — and, should she take advantage of it, there’s not only consolation but opportunity in the coming months.  Through speaking, writing, media appearances and endorsements, it’s possible Lucas could translate this devastation into something positive for the future.
  • Know What Works for You: Andrew Wheating runs the 1,500 meters and he runs it the same way every time.  He sits back in the pack and waits. Even when the leaders move what seems like an uncatchable number of meters ahead, Wheating doesn’t move.  Well, nothing changed for the trials.  Wheating hung back until the last 200 meters and then, in a burst of speed, moved from 6th to 3rd, making the Olympic team. As nerve-wracking as it probably is, he knows that running from behind works for him.
  • Persevere: Anyone who follows track and field knows that Kenyan athletes are very difficult to beat in any running events from 5000 meters up, which makes the rivalry between Bernard Lagat, who is Kenyan, and Galen Rupp , who is Caucasian, so apropos.  Before the trials, Lagat beat Rupp 12 out of 12 times.  But Rupp persevered, and his success over Lagat finally came in what some would argue to be the most important race of the last four years — the trials.  He ran 13.22.67 to win, qualify for the team and join his teammate (and rival) Lagat on the US team.

The final influence principle I’ve learned as I head back to Washington, D.C. is the importance of timing. While I was gone, a massive storm ripped through the mid-atlantic leaving millions of people without power (including my house, apparently).  Thank goodness the power came back on just as I got home. Now THAT’S good timing!


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