Cheer, Don’t Chop Down!

tallpoppyimageI am loving the general coverage of the Winter Olympics, and equally the incredible media coverage and support for our Australian athletes.

I can only imagine the focus, determination, and commitment to training of these incredible competitors. Of their singleminded vision of success; of what it must feel like to stand on those podiums receiving medals, to march out representing their country, and the resilience and strength that each of these athletes has invested over a lifetime – and of course the last 4 years – to actually be selected and to then compete.

It certainly takes a special someone to have the big audacious dream AND to also commit to achieving that dream. To give that extra 5% when everyone else says ‘enough is enough, I can’t give anymore’.

And this got me thinking.

We, as a nation, so openly celebrate and encourage our sporting heroes. We encourage children to play sport (which is absolutely necessary) and to make icons of talented sportsmen and women. What we don’t do is actively congratulate and further encourage our talented students, business people, entrepreneurs and game changers. We don’t hold them up as heroes to schoolchildren, or say ‘this as an example of someone you should strive to be like’.

We don’t support, celebrate and further nurture those individuals that have had a dream just as audacious as making it to the top of their chosen sport – and followed said dream with arguably the same amount of personal commitment, resilience, determination and focus.  I am sure if you were to ask they will also admit that they have made a lot of sacrifices to achieve their dreams.

Why is it that as a nation we are still inclined to cut the tall poppy off at the knees?

I personally experienced the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ when I first arrived in Australia 14 years ago. After working damn hard in the UK through university, landing my dream job and climbing the corporate ladder to achieve senior management status under 30 (and launching some industry firsts) I found it really tough to get a job when I arrived in this land of plenty. I sought advice from a consultant whose response was ‘wear pink and pretend you don’t know the answer even if you do’!

Needless to say this was not advice I followed.

I always have, and always will, encourage those around me to follow their dreams. I have celebrated alongside my colleagues and peers when success is achieved. To me, there is nothing more rewarding that seeing someone that I have employed, trained and mentored go on to do even bigger and better things.

I think it is time we embraced and celebrated the tall poppy. I think it is time we admired the success of those that have achieved more than the average.  I think it is time, through our actions and words, to present the gold medal to those individuals taking ownership of their own business and career success and achieving their dreams.

And above all, I think it is well and truly time that future generations hold up individuals inside and outside the sporting arena as true heroes.

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