Posted September 4, 2008 by Silken Laumann
Olympians: The Awe-Inspiring Magic of Positive Thinking
Silken Laumann shares her Olympic story of courage, perseverance and the triumph of the human spirit with audiences.
Olympic athletes are living examples of the power of dreams, the tenacity of the human spirit and the awe-inspiring magic of positive thinking. At the Beijing Olympics, Canadian diver, Alexandre Despatie, was not physically trained to win. With a broken ankle and plagued by a back injury, he simply could not perform the practice repetitions required to win. Even in the week of the games, the pain in Despatie’s back was so bad, he elected to dive only a handful of times. Instead he imagined those dives, and he imagined winning. Despatie’s silver medal is a testimony to the power of our minds and the strength of the human spirit. Brain research in neuroplasticity has revealed how the physical matter of the brain changes when we visualize, imagine positive outcomes, and play a positive track inside our heads. The world of sport has demonstrated for years what science is now proving: that the brain can change its own structure and function through our thoughts. Science can now prove that visualization and imagination have the power to create a better brain and to create the results we want in our life. And sometimes, as in Despatie’s case, the results of our positive thinking and disciplined imagination can simply be awe-inspiring. The connection between our minds and human high performance has been a life long fascination for me. In my life I have met every Canadian Prime Minster since 1984, Entrepreneurs of the Year, and CEOs of the most successful North American companies. I have often observed that their excellence is based at least as much in confidence, belief, and imagination as it is in smarts and business acumen. We can learn from these leaders as we can from great performers in the world of arts and sport. And the most important aspect we can study is how these individuals think; how they use their imagination to create what they want; and, how they replace self limiting beliefs with positive thoughts of possibilities. As I interview our current Olympic athletes and top artistic performers I am learning about what I intuitively have always believed: we can think and act our way into better ways of living. Reaching our potential is not only the job of Olympic athletes. As Nelson Mandela so inspirationally phrased it, it is the job of all of us to “let our own light shine.” Thank you Alexandre and all the Beijing athletes for reminding us of what is possible in our lives.