4 Things Actors Learn from Olympic Athletes

The Olympic creed states: “The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.” Artists can learn a lot from this ideal.

Skill + Passion. Of course, not everyone who tries out makes the team. But that doesn’t diminish their love of their sport. No one stops shooting hoops because they didn’t qualify for the Olympic basketball team.

Likewise, if you love being an artist, be an artist for the love of the art. It doesn’t have to be your career. You can share stories by reading to children at your local library or to seniors in assisted living, perform with community theatre, direct a high school production, or write a play for youth at your church. There are so many ways you can honor your passion without saying ‘career or nothing’.

A winning combination. It took millions of steps to get each athlete onto the medal podium and just as many steps for each athlete who did not make it past preliminary rounds. Each participant is gifted in their sport, has sacrificed, is passionate and has mentally prepared for ‘the fight’. As an artist, it takes more than visualization to achieve your dream. You can dedicate years to visualizing yourself reaching that goal. But without training and consistent practice to develop your skill, then your passion will be little more than a dream.

Career artists need determination. Michael Phelps competed in the 2000 Olympics and did not win a medal. His best ranking was 5th in 200-meter butterfly finals. But the next year he set a new world record in the same event at the World Championships. If you have the talent and passion for a career in the entertainment industry, then determination will see your hard work rewarded with success.

Let it go. In the 2004 Olympics, Vanderlei de Lima was leading the men’s marathon by 45 seconds with two miles to go when a spectator grabbed him and pushed him toward the crowd. He struggled to get back his rhythm and finished with a bronze. When asked after the race about the incident, he said he could hardly remember it. He had let it go so that he could get back to running his marathon.

If you are a career artist, there will be many unwelcome surprises that will jump out at you – a bad review, malicious gossip, an audition waiting room saboteur. Learn what you can from these moments and then refocus on your craft. Remember you have limited control over your surroundings, but you have complete power over your reactions.