Archive for August, 2015

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Lessons from the Special Olympics World Games

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Lessons from the Special Olympics World Games

Alignment solution: The Special Olympics World Games that just ended in Los Angeles offered valuable life lessons.

Held in the U.S. for the first time since 1999, the Summer Special Olympics World Games brought 6,500 athletes and over 2,000 coaches from 165 countries to Los Angeles for nine days of celebration and competition. More than 30,000 volunteers and 500,000 spectators cheered the athletes, who competed in 25 sports. Media reports say that 27 new world records were set during the Games.

Though the event was billed as the world’s largest sporting event in 2015, much more than athleticism was on display. The Special Olympics athletes’ oath sets the context: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Though the athletes love to win, the real test for them is whether they do their best.

In addition to enabling individuals with intellectual disabilities to compete in athletics, Special Olympics fosters acceptance by educating the public, offering support for athletes’ families, and providing training and medical care for its athletes free of charge. Those who attend Special Olympics events never forget the joy and inspiration they experience by watching the athletes compete.

Below are some of the attributes displayed by Special Olympics athletes. You may recognize them as being just as applicable to the workplace as they are to athletics. The athletes:

  • train hard.
  • are competitive when tested.
  • prioritize the team over the individual.
  • support and encourage their team members.
  • take pride in doing and being their best.

Here are some lessons that Special Olympics athletes can teach us:

Take the time to experience the joy in a job well done.

  • Celebrate the efforts as well as the victories.
  • Don’t allow others to define you because of perceived limitations.
  • Accept that doing your best, whatever the outcome, is good enough.
  • Don’t allow disappointments to overshadow or diminish the pride in the effort.
  • Have the courage to be yourself, and allow others to do the same.

Many businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and individuals are long-time supporters of their local Special Olympics organizations. Why not join them? Experiencing the camaraderie and joy expressed by Special Olympics athletes during their competitions is inspirational. I invite you to attend an event in your area. Take your kids or your grandkids. The experience will change your lives.

If you would like to read about what Special Olympics athletes can teach you about diversity, inclusion, and acceptance, take a look at our article Lessons in Inclusion from Special Olympics Athletes.

To find articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at and my blog at

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