This piece should have been posted two weeks ago; August intervened.
I have been hooked, spending much of the past month dangling from the line of the “Greatest Show on Earth” – the Olympics. With wall-to-wall and morning to night coverage, I have watched sports I hardly knew existed. What is more, I thoroughly enjoyed it too. I tried to buy tickets on the original ballot and several times thereafter, but failed on each occasion. I was, however, successful on the first allocation of Paralympic tickets.
I spent most of my early professional years supporting disabled people, as they faced the daily challenges of living in mainstream society. Consequently, I have watched with interest the advancement of the Paralympics over the years and now eagerly await my visits to watch the athletics in the main stadium.
My attention, however, was caught by the inclusion of three disabled athletes who met their able-bodied peers on the Olympic ‘starting line’, the highest profile of them being Oscar Pistorius, sometimes known as the Bladerunner, completing in the 400 metre race. Also Natalia Partyka a Polish table tennis player, who was born without a right hand or forearm and, of course, Im Dong Hyun of South Korea, who with less than 10% vision, was nonetheless was able to break the world record in archery – astounding.
It should be noted that in order to appear, these athletes would have needed to achieve a qualifying standard; they arrived at the Games on merit and highlighted for me the theory of meritocracy, a social system that gives opportunities and advantages to people purely on the basis of their ability.
Are our workplaces meritocratic? Do the best employees always get their deserved notice and promotion opportunities; does the cream always rise to the top? From what I am told very often the clear answer is “No”.
Perhaps this should be one of the Olympic legacies for us all to learn from. Be prepared to express yourself at your fullest potential in the knowledge that you will be noticed, valued and rewarded. Employers and managers take note. Your responsibility here is to recognise, value and reward; it is your job to allow and encourage endeavour and achievement to rise to the top. Personal and organisational success will follow.
By the way, role on the Paralympics – I can’t wait.