The Olympic Creed

As this is the year of the Olympics (yet again!), I thought I’d dust off an old speech I gave at Rostrum about the Olympics.  It was originally written at the time of the Sydney Olympics, so I’ve slightly updated it and hopefully it makes sense out of its original context.  I’m wanting this blog to diverge a bit from the pure IS management issues, but these non-IS posts probably serve to remind us that IS is not all!

It is a little glurge-like, but this is different to the usual glurge. After all, I wrote it!


The Olympic Creed

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.

This is the Olympic Creed.

Every two years – with the Winter Olympics – the world’s athletes come together to celebrate and honour this creed.

The most important thing is not the triumph, but the struggle. You can learn more about gambling strategies at เรียนรู้เพิ่มเติมที่ UFABET.

Our athletes struggle every day. There were 628 athletes in the Australian Olympic Team at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Australian athletes won 58 medals. The vast majority of Australia’s athletes have struggled for four years to be on the team, and they will return home without a medal, but not empty-handed. For them the struggle continues. These athletes have fought well, and fought hard, made enormous sacrifices upon the field of human endeavour to be the best across the entire Australian continent at their chosen sport.

And the struggle to match the words of the Olympic Creed is a hard struggle indeed for many athletes. Many are not from excessively privileged backgrounds, they are self-sufficient and focused. It takes enormous financial and human resources to compete at the Olympic level.

To be an Olympic competitor takes guts, and spirit, and obsession. There is absolutely no room for a lacklustre attitude. No other person will compete in your sport for you. You must make do with what nature provided you with. If fallen arches in your feet are a problem, then work with it. If you fall off and break a collarbone, screw the bones together, grit your teeth, and pedal your pain-wracked heart out. If you tear the ligaments in your foot, slow your training – but only a little, because to do otherwise is not the creed of an Olympian. The most important thing is not the triumph, but the struggle.

As a nation, we rightly admire these athletes, for the ten minute period they fill the television screen on the weekend. We sit on our couches and stare at the screen, insipidly fingering the remote control when a slightly boring sport comes on. We meander through the channels, surf the airwaves, for something that will hold our attention for a few more seconds. We live vicariously through the screen-sized endeavours of our lycra-clad athletes. When Ian Thorpe won gold, it was an exultant cry of “we won, we won!”. As if we were there in the pool. When Kitty Chiller placed 14th in Modern Women’s Pentathlon… well, who’s heard of Kitty Chiller? She lost – no medal, surely, is the same as losing? – but what about Thorpey, eh? A dismissive wave of the hands will soon put it right.

And yet, if you sit back a minute, leave the remote alone, and look at this theatrical performance in the cold hard light of your lounge room, while Kitty is at the back of the pack – who has lost? Is it the sportsperson who has come fourteenth on a lonely planet full of over five billion people? Or is it the person that chooses to watch, to pontificate, and to finally, arbitrarily, dismiss the world-class performance, and for whom the need to desperately find the remote to change the channel is of primary importance but, somehow, beyond our skill?

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.

The Olympic Creed is least of all about the Olympics. It is about life, and how we deal with the brickbats that living life will always throw at us. It is not about emerging triumphant – dismiss any notions of defeatism, there just aren’t enough medals for everyone to win! Life is about the struggle to achieve a worthwhile goal. The Olympic Creed is about contributing in your field, about making the world a better place for your presence.

There are too many of us, too many of the billions on this planet, that are prepared to sit back and coast. Too many of us seek to detract from the achievements of others. We blame others for our own personal misfortune, and moulder quietly back into the couch with the sweat-stained remote control. Too many of us stand up and say, “Society owes me. Society must support me.” The newsflash is, society is each of us. Each of us has abilities as yet untapped. Every last soul on the planet has the potential to achieve and contribute enormously to the society that we wish to support us.

Yes, there are problems to be hurdled, issues to be dealt with. We might even need society’s help for some time. However, we can all contribute and leave this world a better place for our presence. Let’s try to live the Olympic creed, as it is intended.

The next time you and I choose to decompose within our couch whilst reaching for the remote, think of some of the ways you could better society with only the smallest of struggles in comparison to those of our Olympians.

Here are some of the options that mark you and I as contributors to our society.

You can provide respite care for the elderly, or for the sick and impaired. If you volunteer to help in that one small way, for, say, one day a month, you will be providing what is a lifeline to another person in need.

You can give blood at the Red Cross. We’ve all got more than we need, so give a little away. Each drop is precious.

Enter a bike ride to raise funds for a charity, and shamelessly guilt-trip everyone around you into making a donation. It works for some, and at the end of the day you’ve made a contribution to a worthy cause.

These are only some of the ways that you and I can contribute. Do not bemoan your apparent lack of talent – talent is usually the result of sheer hard work. Natural talent only goes so far, and do not be discouraged by an initial lack of success.

To whine about your shortcomings, and to expect others to fix them, is not the Olympic creed. You must fight well, and for the fight, for your struggle, you will leave this world with the words, “They made a difference” ringing in your ears. And that is an Olympian’s reward.

Free of distractions and wet…

On Tuesday I decided I would work out at the University of Queensland library so that I could avoid all the distractions at home (World of Warcraft, food-from-the-fridge).  It had the delightful advantage of air-conditioning, which, when I woke up and discovered we had 93% humidity, became a real drawcard.

A fairly pleasant and productive day, but we have been having the most rain we have had for a very long time – several weeks worth of rain, which is not how we usually get it here in south-east Queensland.  Last time we were out there, in about August, it was a complete dustbowl, with trees dying left right and centre.

Happy to report that 3 weeks of rain makes it Really Quite Pleasant:

University of Queensland Great Court 15th January 2008

Online fraud and banking risk

Today a news item that caught my eye was particularly relevant – we organised our finances online on Saturday and heartily congratulated ourselves for the extra time this will save us.

I can manage shareholdings, home mortgage, personal credit cards, bank accounts, and superannuation accounts online now.  This is to save us time since we can’t make it to branches during the 9-4 bank hours most banks and branches are open.

And of course the banks would appear to have been refusing to put in higher levels of security to get that last 10% or so of fraud that is occurring, and have been merely investigating and covering client’s losses when it occurs.  According to this news item, though,  you’ll find yourself having to cover your own losses when they occur if the banks and ASIC have their way.

NowI hope it is a ‘reasonable precautions’ approach – I can theoretically understand why the person who has the most control should be responsible for any losses arising from a weakness in that control, but if I have antivirus and spamguard-type solutions in place, and I still get caught, I could get taken for quite a bit even if I am careful.  And the level of sophistication of many home users (still) is such that they can’t possibly put in place antivirus, and make sure that it is working.  I have seen a number of antivirus solutions that are confusing to the novice user, where the system for updating and maintaining the software is just not clear.  And let’s be clear:  these are smart intelligent people – people who know how to do things that I don’t, such as paving, chocking a mitre joint, and welding – who just aren’t across the 101 things you need to have right.  Things such as firewalls (router or software-based?), antivirus (how do I keep it up to date?  Or even realising it needs to be kept up to date), spamguard (that email’s not from my bank?), Windows patches (you need to keep installing, every month, to keep it up to date?), spyware (I’ve got nothing to hide, have I?).
And unfortunately,  I think people do tend to overestimate their sophistication with computers – computers seem to fall in the same category as sex, driving, and being ‘a good judge of character’.  80% of people think they have above-average computer skills, which is patently not the case (I am reminded of my wife, with two degrees and an eminently sensible person, who struggled over the weeekend to copy files from one directory to another without losing track of what had been copied; she also once put a floppy disk in upside down and back to front in a computer of mine – very helpful for a floppy drive I don’t think).

So in sum – I’m agin it.

More CPA Congress – in Brisbane

Today I am fortunate enough to be giving a presentation for CPA Congress in Queensland on ‘Implementing Systems for Improved Reporting Efficiency’.  As usual with these things I am a bit late in preparing my presentation and associated workbook.  My excuse for tardiness and pracastination, such as it is, is that we have had sick children at home over the past six weeks.  Including me for a week (my wife includes me in the ‘child’ category – even when I’m not sick). 

Anyway, I am presenting at 1.55pm this afternoon on this topic in Le Grande Ballroom 2 of the Sofitel in Brisbane.  Apparently it will have 142 participants, which makes me wonder perhaps what they think they are going to get.  I may have to break out the spangles and leotards yet*. 

It promises to be interesting – at least I think so but I may be biased.  I am using a holistic model to diagnose whole-of-business issues with effective business systems, strategising things to do, and then implementing the initiatives.  So that consulting secret again:  diagnose, strategise, implement.  It’s hard to keep straight in your head, but if you try really hard it will stick there. 

I will post presentation and workbook here later today. 

* Note to the gentle reader planning an Alan Jones-like unauthorised biography:  the last time the spangles and leotards were broken out would have about 1985 – when I played Romeo in our high school play.  And as I recall the spangles weren’t all that spangly (for 1985) although the leotard was something to behold…

Knowledge is power

I suffer from an incurable disease, apparently, and have done so for over 10 years.  I recall I went to the doctor 10 years ago about it, who took a biopsy, expressed a great deal of curiosity (‘oh my goodness I’ve never seen that before’ – which didn’t help my state of mind) and then read the pathology report a few days later and said ‘don’t worry about it’.

It took me another 10 years to get worried about it again, went into the doctor’s (this condition has a habit of morphing about a bit) to clear these concerns, and the doctor managed to dig out the report from 10 years ago (an information management strategy that I’m impressed with, anyway!) and apparently this thing is called Schamberg Disease.

No, I hadn’t heard of it either, and neither had the doctor.

But, knowledge is of two kinds – you either know it or you know where to find it.  Being a doctor, I had assumed he had access to all sorts of information resources I don’t.

But he didn’t.

He googled it.

And now I know why it’s benign.  Unsightly, but benign – think knobbly knees with zinc cream on pasty-white consultant legs.  Just as well that I managed to get married early on.