What can corporate America learn from the Special Olympics?


This weekend I had the good fortune to be in the audience cheering on the figure skaters at a Special Olympics ice skating competition. My 15-year old daughter, Melissa, is a volunteer assistant coach for the team and I went to watch the competition to support her work. It was a very emotional experience for me to watch these skaters — young and old — with autism or down syndrome or other special needs — bravely take the ice to compete.  What I witnessed at this event is so relevant to all of our lives — if only we could take  a few of these lessons with us into our jobs and our everyday lives.

Lesson #1: Let me win but if I can not win let me be brave in the attempt (this is the Special Olympics motto).

These skaters struggle with coordination and other issues out there on the ice. They are not always steady or sure of themselves, yet they bravely get out and do the best job they can. Win or lose, they are proud of the work they do and are proud of the all the competition winners amongst them. How can we not see the corallary here to our jobs? Our co-workers are our teammates and often our competitors. We can cheer them on and watch them win and still bravely do the best job we can do — with a smile and good will.

Lesson #2: Look for and appreciate the talents in others and seek places where their strengths can benefit the whole.

Too often we look for and highlight the faults in people. We watch a presentation only to seek out the flaws and faults. We hear a new idea and quickly find a reason why it won’t work.  We gossip about what’s wrong with others. Think how different the world would be if we all responded first to what’s good about a person, their work and their ideas.

Lesson #3: Act with compassion

I think if every one of us was raising a special needs child, the world would be a better place! The parents of these skaters have all become a close knit family sewn together in their quest for support in providing a good life for their children.  They are the most compassionate, grateful and optimistic group of people. They have been taught to be truly compassionate by their own children. Compassion requires seeing the whole person and seeking to understand their position and their needs and finding a way to fulfill them.  Compassion is something that, as a facilitator, I always try to bring into my meetings because by seeking to understand others and fulfill their needs we find win/win solutions.

I know this isn’t my usual blog post but I felt compelled to share this amazing experience with my readers and hope that you, too, can benefit from it!

Cindy Diamond

IGNiTE . . . fueling creativity and innovation!

My daugther, Melissa with her Special Skater, David

My daugther, Melissa with her Special Skater, David


One thought on “What can corporate America learn from the Special Olympics?

  1. Cindy, Thanks for writing about our special athletes. As a parent of one of the special skaters, I can attest to the life-changing experience of raising a child with a disability. And you are right…the world would be a better place if we all had a little more compassion:) Lisa

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