Redemption can be a precarious motivator...

Let’s face it, from a very young age, we’re taught that redemption in not only right but also that it’s good as well. That getting even isn’t just natural, it’s the desired outcome. Therefore, it’s no wonder that during the past week, while watching the Olympic coverage on television or reading about the Games in an article online or in the paper, one may have come across the term redemption a few hundred times.

Look, I understand intimately the power of redemption as a motivator—I used it frequently in my training and racing. I know first hand that it can garner impressive results. However, my experience would also tell me that as powerful a motivator as we think it can be, it’s fuse is short-lived. And besides, using Olympic competition as a means to be “rescued from sin and find salvation” isn’t exactly embracing the spirit of the Games now is it? But, and perhaps even more importantly, when our main goal in performing is to achieve redemption, that very goal can ultimately distract us from the task at hand and actually limit our ability to achieve high-performance and that precious moment of feeling redeemed.

Sound confusing? Well, it’s not—trust me. Think about it. When an athlete shows up to practice everyday and all they are concerned with is redeeming themselves in the eyes of their peers, their coach, their parents, themselves—where is their focus? Elsewhere. More specifically, not where it should be—on being present to their training or competition. Also, it creates a negative spin on losing in the first place—that it was wrong and good reason to be ashamed of and, therefore, seek redemption. Not exactly a climate conducive for realizing ones’ highest potential.

So why are we so hell-bent on utilizing the supposed power of redemption as a motivator? And, why do we hear it referred to so frequently in the media? Well, aside from it simply being what we’ve been taught is right, it’s sexy for lack of a better term. It creates more of a story out of an otherwise simple event and props up Olympic competition to be more than the games they were originally meant to be. Which finally entices viewers to be more interested in watching and reading, and garners higher ratings—that’s what conventional wisdom would have us believe, anyhow.

Furthermore, it’s a classic example of what happens when our ego hogs the driver’s seat. Ultimately, it creates the perfect storm for self-destruction and dissatisfaction. Want proof? Go back and review some of the results from this week. More specifically, think about all of the athletes that were referred to as seeking redemption. In those cases, more often than not, those athletes underperformed and failed in their quest for that very redemption.

The lesson? Be careful what you wish for—I certainly learned that as a young Olympian! Instead, find a bigger reason for competing—one that unleashes what you’re truly capable of and puts the focus on you showing up each day to what you’re responsible for—all of the components that support high-performance. Not only will this new and more meaningful motivator improve your results but also given the nature of what drives us, it will sustain you for a lifetime—potentially. And, when we connect with our life journey in a way that we can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning, life takes on a deeper and more meaningful purpose—Olympian or otherwise.

Jason Dorland is a High-Perfomance Coach who believes the most undervalued and underutilized components of reaching our goals are the mental and emotional areas of our lives. With your commitment, Jason can help you make a positive difference in how you approach your life’s dreams and goals. Guaranteed! To find out how, contact Jason today for a free no obligation consultation. He looks forward to meeting with you and getting started soon! 
Jason Dorland
Jason Dorland
Jason Dorland has dedicated his life to the pursuit of excellence for himself and those he supports.