There is no question that Michael Phelps was born to swim.
I remember seeing a program last year that detailed Phelp’s physical characteristics contributing so greatly to his Olympic Gold Metal swimming speed.
Then earlier this week, as I watched the commentators discuss the various Olympians and their accomplishments in this years’ Olympic swimming competition, they mentioned the fact that though Phelps had not himself been so successful this time around, he was ever gracious towards his teammates, congratulating them on their successes.
Of course, this would be expected of any accomplished athlete who understands and acknowledges the weight of his/her responsibility and influence, but it occurred to me that there is more behind such a one’s inclination to be so gracious...even when ‘his time’ is past.... even in the face of defeat.
When a parent recognizes their child has special abilities, gifts--acute, focused interests in a specific activity--say swimming for instance, then responds to that interest and talent by encouraging, supporting and providing the opportunities as they are able for their child to develop and perfect the skills needed to pursue his dreams and goals, and then should the fruit of all that focus, effort and affirmation produce a ‘Michael Phelps’ winner, there would likely be no emotional obstacle preventing him from genuinely enjoying and celebrating the successes of others...even when his has waned.
A parent who understands the difference between gently nudging and forcefully driving and consistently, dedicatedly practices it.
When a parent also genuinely feels and models the same affirmation and graciousness towards their child’s competitors in those developing years, he/she will most assuredly inherit and pass it on whether winning or losing.
In Phelp’s case, I can’t help but believe his gracious spirit was not so much ‘trained’ in him as modeled before him.
Something we all could strive more to perfect...