Wasn’t it wonderful to see such an awe inspiring opening ceremony on Friday night and to see the doubting Thomases and doomsayers proved so comprehensively wrong?
It was a wonderful tableau of what it means to be British and bringing out the best in humanity. We saw a vision of England’s green and pleasant land, leading the industrial revolution, the suffragettes reminding us that Britain is the mother of parliaments and liberal democracy, our great National Health Service which is the envy of virtually every other country in the world, the popular music industry which we give to the world and the world’s favourite monarch parachuting into the games under the protection of 007 – the world’s biggest movie franchise. The Olympic cauldron symbolised all that is best about mankind – peace, harmony, friendship and a determination to excel in all that we do.
I have been hugely impressed by all of the athletes in their interviews – how nice and self-effacing they all are – humble in success and gracious in defeat and hugely appreciative of their vast army of camp followers – coaches, trainers, mums and dads, friends and family all of whom have provided a huge amount of support to get them to the Olympic Park.
What an extraordinary contrast to the world of madness portrayed in Anthony Beevor’s book “The Second World War”. No fewer than 204 countries came into the stadium proudly bearing their national flags. As a human family we have much to rejoice in the progress we have made over the past 70 years.
I think it was Sir John Harvey Jones who said that business is a bit like running a marathon – it is a long haul, not for the faint-hearted and the only prize for success is the right to keep running.
In his autobiography “Winning Is Not Enough”, Sir Jackie Stewart equates success to winning with integrity. By this he means minute attention to detail, constantly striving towards perfection and surrounding yourself at every level with the best possible support team.
With hundredths of a second at stake, our athletes all know that minute attention to detail and constantly refining technique make all the difference. As one of our greatest athletes, Lord Coe has presided over an astonishing achievement in finishing an extraordinarily complex infrastructure project on time and on budget, he has demonstrated outstanding skills of leadership and team work and his confidence has never wavered.
Those of us in business have much to learn from the great achievements of those in the world of sport. Let us all enjoy this wonderful celebration over the next fortnight taking inspiration from our great athletes, learn from their successes and feel refreshed and invigorated to continue running the marathon of business long after the closing ceremony.
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