What about the Olympics is so Different…
Have you considered the raging contagion sweeping the globe and particularly in the Western world? Business men, bag boys, hairdressers, and haberdashers all equally afflicted and enjoined. TV networks are putting up half-hearted programming as they realize the juggernaut just cannot be stopped.
Of course, we are talking about the 2016 Olympics held in mosquito free Rio! Between internet updates, late night replays, made for television moments, and the Twitterverse/Facebook reaction, we are experiencing an increasingly rare shared event.
Growing up in the 70’s, our television was occupied by the major 3 networks and the occasional PBS (when we could pick it up.) Everyone saw the same things, experienced much of the same information — nationally and regionally. The advent of cable television followed by the individualizing factor of the Internet has almost ensured that majorities of peoples will have demonstrably few of those shared experiences and emotions so common 40+ years ago.
These facts have been illustrated and debated at length by others and I do not wish to further add to that analysis. If possible, could we learn something vital as we have this wonderfully rare moment of shared experience?
What is it about the Olympics that brings so many together with so much passion?
Nationalistic fervor? Sure. Sports fans? Of course. Non-sports fans? Yes. To be honest, for each noun or adjective one could list, an antonym would fit just as easily. So, the Olympics are not just a unique shared event, they are an anomaly in that those who follow the triumphs and tragedies do not neatly fit any of the typical demographic boxes.
My explanation and the teachable moment for those of us called to leadership roles — one-word “marriage.”
The Olympics is the perfect marriage of head and heart.
It is the back story of overcoming incredible hardships, the abundant statistics for the number lover, the drama of last-second or split second finishes, the what and the why! It is not just an event or a sport, it is the perfect marriage of all that coupled with intense emotion. We feel it. We want it to happen… We are upset to the point of tears for those who lose and jumping around in our pajamas for winners who names we cannot pronounce! We know the schedules, how many medals, who is the underdog, favored, long shot, last time competing — we are overwhelmed with data but the data only furthers our fervor.
Simply put, we must always understand that we are communicating words and data constantly. To be sure, our presentations need polish and our graphics can always be sharper. We may need to take a page from the Olympics and go for the gold in communication by aiming for the head and the heart. Let’s help our volunteers and congregations feel the importance of what they are doing and be motivated by the passion that they belong to something bigger than themselves.