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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Your Flag, Your Colors

Hey All.  To my numerous readers in Russia, I hope you're all enjoying the Olympics!  I commend your Olympic organizing committee in presenting a dark portion of your country's history in the most positive light possible during the Opening Ceremonies.

The Parade of Nations is always something I look forward to seeing in every Games.  It's the athletes' chances to introduce themselves to the world before beginning their quest for a medal, or even just to say that they arrived and competed.  It's also a chance for lesser-known nations to introduce their country to the world, even for a just a short time.

Most people well say that their favorite part of the Olympics is seeing Team USA enter the stadium.  Yes, we sometimes joke about how horribly lame their uniforms are, but it gives us a huge kick.  Since it's our country, it makes us feel like we're right there in the stadium with them.

I disagree though.  My favorite parts of the evening are, in reverse order (3) the singing of the Olympic Hymn and presentation of the Olympic Flag; (2) lighting the torch after its long journey from Athens; and (1) watching nations represented by only one athlete.

I don't know about you all, but watching just one person carrying a flag, smiling and waiving, with a small entourage consisting only of a coach or trainer, or possibly a family member, is special.  It sends a stronger message to me than all of the rah-rah talk coming from countries with 200+ athletes.  It tells me that this is a person so dedicated, so disciplined, and so focused on their chosen event that they're able to go it alone.

Alone.  Without a "program" to measure up to in order to compete.  Without a "system" that demands what to say, do, and wear.  Without a corporate sponsorship.  Just him, or her, and a dream that became reality.

So while current and former Today Show anchors provided factoids about each of these bold individualists (they have dual citizenship in that country, they really live in Montana, etc.), I found myself cheering for them regardless of their backstories.  Most of them do not expect to win a medal.  Appearing in commercials and becoming famous are most likely not the reasons why they are there.  They are there only to be the best they can be at their events, and to proudly represent whatever flag they fly.

And most importantly, they are their for themselves.  Because they've already proven so much to themselves, and they want to prove more.

We are better served to follow their example than we are to keep mindlessly chanting "U.S.A." for every event.  Far too many of us are weighed down by expectations, groupthink, and confirmity to be independent enough.

Make your colors, and fly your flag.  Compete for yourself, and not for anyone else.  Show that flag to the world, and be proud of it, no matter what.  By standing alone and playing by your own rules, instead of answering to some superhuman machine and all its rules, you have already won victories that the "home team" can never win.



Fly your own flag.  High.