Ten things we have learnt from the Olympics

1 – People are good – When we allow ourselves to be sucked in to the mainstream media myth it is easy to believe that every second person has violent and destructive intent.  Especially if they belong to a group that is currently demonised through their nationality, race or something else.  The reality, as the humility and generosity of the athletes and the enthusiasm and contribution of the volunteers has shown is that most people are good.  We all have our moments of being grumpy and every group has it’s share of challenging individuals, but on the whole people are good, kind, supportive, generous, willing and intelligent.

2 – The British are great at stuff – Over the last decades it has become easy to see Britain on a slow descent into incompetent irrelevance.  Most politicians, media and business leaders have done little to reverse the slide.  However create a stage and make the investment and British creative and athletic commitment, innovation, energy, organisation and ability are still world class.

3 – Sports are really important – Before the event there was a justifiable debate about whether, in a time of austerity, investing in a 2 week sports jamboree was really the best way to spend “limited” resources, when there are so many other things that need attention.

In reality the Olympics was an investment in the spirit of the nation and its relationships with the rest of the world – a spiritual investment.  The potential payback could be exponential and outweigh anything that could possibly have been achieved with direct investment by orders of magnitude.  Whether it does depends on the extent to which we as individuals choose to maintain and apply the Olympic spirit to our lives.

4 – Its time to move beyond football and finance – The twin British religions of the past decades have been exposed for their vanity, distorted values and cost.  By comparison the brilliance, beauty and humility of the Olympians prove to be far more positively aspirational gods.  If the next generation aspire to olympic excellence in whatever field they choose we will be able to achieve a society of peace, sustainability and fulfilment.

5 – It is time to close The Daily Mail and other cynical manipulators – Wall to wall Olympic coverage had the effect of blocking out much of what passes for news on an average day, giving Britain (at least) a holiday from the perpetual manipulation of our emotions and fears by cynics.  Part of the positiveness of the whole experience can be ascribed to the simple absence of negativeness.  We can actually choose to have a permanent holiday from cynicism and manipulation by not buying it and not consuming it.  If we stop consuming it, it will cease to exist.

6 – No more stiff upper lip – I deeply hope that I was among the last generation of boys (mainly) brought up to suppress our emotions.  Emotions are simply our bodies way of communicating with us.  Emotions are powerful, essential and valuable to happy and fulfilled lives.  Seeing so much emotion expressed so freely by such heroes was inspiring and liberating for those that were brought up not to.

7, 8, 9 and 10 – John Lennon’s time is coming –  Hearing Lennon’s vision for society broadcast to an audience of billions from the platform of establishment credibility of the Olympics was a pivotal moment, one that I personally found the most moving of the entire Olympics.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

My friend Dave Hampton was kind enough to invite me onto his radio to discuss this blog post, you can listen to it here – http://soundcloud.com/carboncoach/neilcroftsmarlowfm

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With love


Neil Crofts
authentic business
+34 646391384
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About Neil Crofts

Writer, coach and consultant on authentic business and authentic leadership. Neil has inspired and motivated hundreds organisations and thousands of individuals to their highest potential. Neil has written three published books and numerous e-books. Neil is a coach, facilitator and consultant helping people and businesses find their authentic purpose and use it to inspire and motivate them to be everything that they can be. Neil has raced cars, been self-employed, run a company and sold it, been employed by large companies, experienced growth and contraction at the heart of the dotcom boom, tried changing companies from the inside and from the outside as European Head of Strategy at internet consultancy/rock band Razorfish. Neil has been independent for over 10 years and delivered his Authentic Leadership message to a diverse range of business audiences including people at BP, Shell, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, MSN, Jamie Oliver, South Gloucestershire Council, National Blood Transfusion Service, KaosPilots Business School, Fashion company By Malene Birger, German technology company Eleven.
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11 Responses to Ten things we have learnt from the Olympics

  1. Great blog Neil – you are so totally right!

  2. Totally agree with Paul – spot on Neil.

    I really hope existing media start to present news stories from a positive point of view. I do wonder if that’s hoping for too much – or is that me being too cyncal and negative?!

    What I do see is a fantastic business opportunity for a new brand to start-up with the principle purpose of focusing solely on positive news stories. Now that’s a publication I would read/subscribe too…

    One other thing; I think it’s important to remember that we all have a part to play to “Inspire A Generation” – however big or small.

  3. Reb Veale says:

    Really inspiring blog, thank you Neil. And a great call to action for all of us too – if we felt uplifted at all by the vision, hard work and camaraderie of the past few weeks; it is ours to continue on a second-by-second basis and is free! Wow, wonderful Monday wake up, thanks 🙂

  4. Jan Stone says:

    Agree so much, Neil. How brilliant to have two weeks without politicians sniping at one another and behaving like kids in the playground, without doom and gloom forecasts and without anyone (even the Mail??) able to tell us our country is rubbish!
    I loved the Lennon too. Amazing to hear what was radical and controversial in my youth become a mainstream mission statement. Ray Davies was great, too – let’s fall back in love with our country and the world!
    Btw Robin – there is a newspaper like that!! Try googling Positive News.

  5. Colin Smith says:

    Excellent article Neil, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Being a long standing fan of Chelsea I watched yesterday’s Community Shield, (the result not being the point), I was surprised by how disconnected I felt in comparison to how connected I have been during the last two weeks of the Olympics.

    I am embarrassed to say I was one of many who was in the ‘bah humbug’ position in the months and weeks leading up to the Opening Day. But once I had watched the Opening Ceremony, I was hooked. Excited, inspired and above all proud of what the country has achieved, with the athletes, of course, but with the Games Makers and the overall organisation. How we touched the hearts of millions here and across the world was just brilliant. And how good is that!3

    So, by focussing on the positive and not on the negatives, can make a big difference to one’s well being and outlook, and surprise, surprise, that rubs off with everyone I connect with or contact.

    Thank you Team GB, that is all of us now.

  6. Fiona Scott says:

    I agree with much of what you say – and I’m a journalist and business person. But I feel that it’s up to us to spread good news and not just get away with ‘blaming the media’ all of the time. Most of the media are not cynics sat in rooms deciding to find the most awful side of any story.
    The truth is that ‘bad news’ is quite unusual so it is attractive to journalists as it will often involve some kind of jeopardy or conflict. It also becomes public more quickly because it can involve organisations which have a duty to report their activities openly eg. the police, the courts, industrial tribunals etc.
    Good news is around us all of the time and is therefore quite mundane – so we can make it more prevalent – social media is helping with this. I write many, many good news stories both with my journalist’s hat on and with my PR hat on – my key phrases are ‘is it interesting?’, ‘is there a new line to tell?’ and ‘is there a great picture?’. Then it has to be well-written.
    The Olympics really made that plain – coverage was strong and there seemed to be a collective decision to be positive about it – right from the Torch travelling around, through to the event itself. How many of those athletes mentioned Twitter and the support they received? Bad news was still around, but the sheer volume of good, human interactions drowned out the rest.
    Social media shows that good and mundane news from anyone anywhere is interesting to someone somewhere and that’s such a good thing. But we must all play a part in generating good news.

    • Neil Crofts says:

      Thanks Fiona – it is really good to understand more about the psychology of newsroom decisions. I am certainly not blaming all media or all journalists and I don’t even have a problem with the reporting of bad news (perhaps the balance of it). My issue is with the deliberately negative and manipulative type of coverage that you get in The Daily Mail. Really good to think about how to make good news interesting – perhaps the problem is with the whole (old) commercial model of newspapers. Perhaps what we really need to do is to find a way for journalists to make a living through direct reporting – now that would be interesting.

  7. A great post, Neil – I’m 100% with you (and I especially like points 7-10, which made me re-read those lyrics several times). My nervousness is that we will start to forget how we’re all feeling right now once the rain comes back, the days become shorter and the regular sporting success-stories start to decline in number. Seeing Team GB successes kept us inspired, kept us going, and reminded us that we can be great and do great things, but our memories will fade.

    In those “post-honeymoon” days, there will surely be a few problems with converting the Olympic venues to their legacy mode, and we will start to grumble again. We are already seeing questions along the lines of “well that’s all very well, but what is the cost-benefit of the legacy, and when will ordinary people see the benefit?”. I fear that we will forget the good times all too quickly, and it will only take a few budget overruns to remind us that we’re also good at making a mess of things (Millennium Dome, Terminal 5 opening etc), and because that’s a “normal” state for us to be in, we will gravitate to that again.

    I agree with Fiona about the ‘attractiveness’ of bad news to journalists – a rocket failing on the launchpad is much more interesting to write about, than a perfect launch. Journalists will need to be extra-creative in finding interesting angles – and I’m sure many will do just that.

    Record numbers are volunteering to help with local sports, and that has to be a good thing. The real challenge is to maintain the momentum through the difficult times, when success doesn’t come as frequently. Team GB made it look much easier than it was, and we were spared the agony of the training.

    As you rightly say, we have seen what we can do when we choose to do something and commit to doing it well. It was a brilliant time to feel what it is like to be positive. It is completely intoxicating – let’s do more of that!

    • Neil Crofts says:

      Exactly – we all need to maintain our own Olympic spirit in everything we do and just ignore the junk and focus ourselves and each other on what is truly adds value.

  8. Andrew Gray says:

    Great post Neil- especially the comments about finance and football. Who knows, maybe the mood of sportsmanship and positivity will spill over into football? Sadly the chances of this happening to bankers seems much more remote…

  9. Pingback: What the Paralympic Games gave us | earlyinitiative

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