At some point in the last 10 days (or if you’re like me, for *most* of the last 10 days), you’ve likely tuned in to the Olympic Games. From volleyball to swimming to track and field and beyond, you and I have had a chance to cheer on fellow Americans who strive to be the best in the world at their respective sport.
Of course, behind every athlete is a story of sacrifice, dedication and determination. I had the opportunity to hear one such story in person two weeks ago when two-time silver medalist Adam Nelson delivered the closing keynote at the Next Generation of Government Summit.
His story was inspiring as he overcame what could have been a career- ending injury just months before a qualifying competition for the 2004 games.
But what struck me most was when he said this: “there is only one winner, but there are many personal victories.” He also talked about his own experience of “the struggle” that is part of the Olympic creed:
The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
The most important thing in Public Service is not to amass profit but to solve problems. The core principle that compels public sector professionals is the unwavering commitment to establishing and maintaining the common good, restoring justice and peace both at home and abroad, and enabling citizens to pursue their life’s purpose unencumbered by an unnecessary or overwhelming burden.