Years ago during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games there was a commercial. I think it was for laundry soap (I will look it up and post a link to it at the bottom). The commercial showed various athletes; gymnasts, soccer players, swimmers going to practice day after day after day. But what the commercial really focused on was the mothers of these young athletes. Early mornings thick with blackness highlighted these mothers waking early - earlier than their athlete children - cooking, cleaning and yes, washing. Nasty, soaking wet towels, sweaty socks, work out gear and oh right, the rest of the family's clothes as well. The scenes spanned the lives of these young athletes and with the companionship and encouragement of their mothers, going to practice, training for hours, coming home, eating, doing their homework on the bus, the train, in the car, whenever there was a a scant 15 minute window to get the calculus problem done or ten pages of that AP Lit novel read. Being Olympic season, it of course culminated with the moms and dads (but highlighted the moms) watching proudly from the stands as the athlete stuck the landing or touched out the competition by a fingernail.
This my friends, is dedication. But not just of the athletes, of the moms too. Both sides have different goals but are no less dedicated to those goals.
No matter how hard we try, most of us will not end up in the Olympic Games. It's a fact. But this cold hard reality check in no way means that we shouldn't strive for dedication in all that we do. Yes, sometimes this means doing what my family and all the other families on our year round team do, waking every morning during the summer at 5am for practice. Or committing to the doubles, or the drive to the pool three times a day. Sometimes it means prioritizing your family and eschewing sports or other activities for the good of the unit. Sometimes it simply means setting a small goal (or even a large one that will take years) and slowly chipping away at it, hour by hour, day by day.
Dedication comes in all forms. Research papers. Research in general. Family. Your faith. A perfect flip turn, bucket turn or spin turn. A non-stop 50 fly. 100 fly. 200 fly. The point is, pick a goal or three and be dedicated. Work at it every day. Think about it, assess and reassess. Set your bar high and refuse those who tempt you to lower it because of their own insecurities. Recognize the nay-Sayers as people who are so insecure with themselves and their fear of failure that they try to drag others down so that everyone is like them. Do not back down. Grab your goal with two hands and hang on.
True greatness ... whatever your personal definition ... comes only with dedication.