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Apr 02

Winning an Olympic Silver Medal

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

Now that the Olympics are past I was reflecting on a study I read about how bronze medal winners were happier than those who took home the silver. (study: https://bit.ly/2usPLg2 )

At first it struck me as counterintuitive.  Isn’t silver better than bronze? Granted a gold medal is the best, but ranking second in the world isn't shabby. 


The basis of the study indicated that those who won silver couldn't stop thinking about what might have been. They relived their performance and considered how a little change of this or that on a different day might have transformed silver into gold. Bronze medal winners were several steps away from the gold.  It would have taken more than a few tweaks to reach gold and they know it.

I have known business people who were chief operating officers, the number two person, and really struggled being content in the role. Often these individuals resigned and looked elsewhere because they were not able to accept the number two position.

In most major businesses the top three generally fill the most profitable positions.  The folks in seventh, eighth or ninth place struggle to pick up crumbs. A business that's the second largest in its market in most instances will be highly successful, more successful than the third largest company. 

Paul articulated a key principle when he wrote, “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV) 

 We all want first place, but we all can't have a gold medal. We need to learn how lessons from the Olympics teach more than athletes how to win, how to lose and how to accept your best performance wherever it ranks.

Just like an athlete, unless we master contentment in our business, or in other parts of her life, we will never be happy. Embrace Paul's words in your circumstances. A silver medal really is better than bronze.

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