Greetings. The Winter Olympics are now in full swing after an opening day tragedy, some changes to the luge course, and a curious lack of snow. They also brought a wonderful opening ceremony filled with amazing technology, wonderful music, and an inspiring tribute to the vast beauty of Canada and the rich traditions of its "First Nations" and their people. After an initial few days of engaging stories and performances, there’s plenty to capture our attention.
But the story that stands out for me, and should cause all of us to think a bit differently about the simple connection between genius and humanity, is the victory of Alexandre Bilodeau in the men’s freestyle moguls event. A victory that was as much about family—and learning from our differences—as it was about a brilliant and somewhat unexpected sports achievement.
In victory, Bilodeau was quick to acknowledge the real source of his inspiration—his older brother Frederic who has spent his life competing against cerebral palsy. While the disease has taken away much of his ability to walk and speak, he has never lost his ability or desire to dream, smile, support, learn, create art and challenge the odds. In interviews before and after his gold medal performance, Alexandre talked about how Frederic's remarkable will made it impossible for him to ever give up, even when he lacked the will to practice and stay focused. In an era when so many sports personalities are so full of themselves, these two brothers have given us a very different picture of what competition and success are all about. A picture based on caring, respect, and the belief that there is genius in all of us.
We win in business and in life by learning from others, and by discovering the remarkable gifts and abilities of everyone around us. When was the last time you dared to be taught by someone very different than you? Maybe it’s time for all of us to have a greater appreciation for the people we often stereotype or ignore.