Has playing and watching sports ever inspired you to make progress in other areas of your life?

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was overflowing with stories. Stories of athletes from all over the world. Athletes who are human, just like you and me. It’s these human stories that inspire us to do better in our own lives. So, we decided to pick a few stories that resonated with us the most, that also have some big financial lessons to take away.

1. On the importance of starting early

Let’s first honour our homegrown athletes. How many of their names had you heard of before this Olympics? Not all of them, I assume. Here are a few fun facts about how some of them they started, and more importantly, when.

  • Neeraj Chopra used to be an obese child. Because he would get teased a lot, his father enrolled him in a gym. It was during this phase that javelin thrower, Jaiveer Choudhary, spotted a 12-year-old boy with talent and started training him. Today, at 24, Neeraj Chopra throws with the confidence of a pro.
  • Mirabai Chanu started training at the Sports Academy in Manipur when she was just 12 years old. For nearly four years during her training period, she would travel 20-odd kilometers every day just to get to the training centre. This weightlifter certainly had tonnes of physical as well as mental strength.
  • Ravi Dahiya is from Nahri village, in Haryana’s Sonipat district, a village that is famous for producing wrestling talent. Dahiya’s wrestling journey started when he was 10. Within no time, he moved out of home only to get access to better training. His sole purpose was to excel at wrestling. Nothing could deter him from this.
  • PV Sindhu started playing badminton at the age of eight. Today, at 26, she’s a star player, and needs absolutely no introduction.

I’ve only mentioned 4 out of the 126 Indian athletes that were part of the Olympics this year. But the origin stories are quite similar for all of them. When we see athletes win medals, we hardly ever look back at when they began their journeys. It takes several years of blood, sweat and tears to excel at our chosen field. Nobody is an overnight success.

Our finances are no different. Financial freedom is the ability to live comfortably with our basic needs met, to be debt-free, and to choose work that matters to us. It takes patience, perseverance, and discipline to make your money work for you. Starting your investment journey early in life takes you a long way. Even earning profits from trading in the stock market requires years of market-study before one can succeed. The key is to start early. Build good money management habits as soon as you can and as often as you can, and financial freedom is yours for the taking.

2. On the importance of dreams, and self-reviews

Take a look at this.

Australian high jumper, Nicola McDermott, wrote this poem about her Olympic dream more than a decade ago. Among her high jumping gear, she always carries this handwritten note, along with a pen and notepad to review every jump. Between jumps, you’ll notice McDermott jotting down details, rating herself and figuring out where she needs to improve. This is also a way for her to avoid over-analyzing the other athletes’ jumps, bury her head down and focus on her own work. An unusual tactic amongst her peers, but a surefire way to get better and better, and stay on track. Not only did Nicola McDermott win a silver medal, but she also set a national record in the process.

We all have dreams of the lives we hope to lead, but we seldom write them down. And if we do, we don’t often check in on our progress with McDermott-like sincerity. This is another crucial trait to imbibe if we hope to have a rewarding financial journey.

For instance, owning a home could be a dream. Write a note to yourself. Set small goals and work towards them. Invest regularly. Review these investments every few months. You’ll find that within a reasonable period of time, you would have built up the funds necessary to own a home. Now wouldn’t that be satisfying?

3. On the importance of lifting each other up

In the history of the Olympic Games, over 2600 medals have been awarded to athletes. However, there have been only 31 instances of athletes sharing the gold medal. These 31 instances were when the winners were determined by judges or officials declaring that both athletes have played equally well.
This time, it was different. Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy asked if they could share the gold medal. Rival high jump athletes from different countries, Barshim and Tamberi, share a deeper history.

The past five years have been difficult for both, because they’ve had to deal with serious injuries. In 2016, Tamberi was ruled out of competing at the Rio Olympics due to a ligament tear that needed immediate surgery. A few years later, Barshim had to undergo the same ordeal. Through their dark days, they have been there for each other, never failing to lift each other up.

Sharing the medal showed incredible spirit that goes beyond sports.

Success, be it financial or otherwise, isn’t a finite thing. If one person succeeds, it does not mean that another will fail. It is only when we support one another, when we remember to lift those around us, that we can taste the true flavour of success.

The original Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, Latin words for Faster, Higher, Stronger was revised this year. It now reads, “Citius, Altius, Fortius – Communiter”, meaning Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together.

Let’s vow to better ourselves and each other. And to never hesitate to ask for help when needed. Just as athletes need professional coaches, improving your money management skills might also demand a financial coach every now and then. When that time arises, you know just whom to reach out to. 🙂

Tell us in the comments below which Olympics stories have inspired you the most? And what are your go-to sports? How have they helped you in other areas of your life?

PS: The Olympics are over, but the after-effects of the games still remain. It got us reflecting on the autobiographies of athletes that we’ve read. So, this week’s book recommendation is Open by Andre Agassi, one of the best ever books written in this genre.

Author Bio - Komal Shivdasani

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