"Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration," someone once said, quite possibly the inventor of the roll-on deodorant*.
We've heard a lot about 'inspiration' during the London Olympics, of course. One of the key arguments made by the bid team was that a Games held here would "inspire a generation". It has generally been taken to mean that the 'generation' in question is the younger one, and the 'inspiration' will be to take up sport.
But here's the thing. I'm neither young, nor interested in taking up sport, and I've been inspired by the Games.
'How?!' I hear you cry, in a genuinely bemused-yet-interested way. Well, fortunately, I have a mathematical theory to explain how I have, indeed, been inspired by London 2012, and it's one I'm willing to share with you ahead of my inevitable Nobel Prize For Algebra (like Jessica Ennis, and S Club 7, I'm reaching for the stars here).
The Olympics have proved that t+d=s, where t = 'talent', d = 'determination', and s = 'success'. Obviously, by and large (maths isn't an exact science, after all), the greater t or d is, the greater the resulting s will be. And it is also possible to achieve s where t is absent - particularly in the world of entertainment - as long as t is replaced by sna ('sheer naked ambition' - see The Spice Girls, for example).
But generally, those we have watched expend blood, sweat and tears over the past two weeks have proved that success is a result of talent and determination. The kind of determination that leads you to get out of bed early, whether that's to get to the gym or write your novel. The kind of determination that means you don't give up when you've had a setback, whether that's an injury or a rejection letter. The kind of determination that's 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.
As Team GB's gold medal rower Helen Glover put it: "If I can do it, then take your chance. If you work hard and try your best, anyone can do anything." Glover was being ever so slightly modest, of course. But she did, in those two sentences, surely sum up the true Inspiration Legacy™ of these Games. That our sportsmen and women - and even the ones from other countries - are proof that working hard, not giving up, not shirking and keeping your eye on the prize (metaphorical or otherwise) are the keys to success, whatever the arena (metaphorical or otherwise) you're working in.
They're also the keys to success far more so than talent. To return to my not-at-all clunky algebraic analogy: I'd argue that if t+d=s, then 2t+d=s, but t+2d=2s. Again, see The Spice Girls, for example.
I'd even argue that the Inspiration Legacy™ was embodied by Rowan Atkinson's performance at the opening ceremony, which wasn't so much barnstorming as huge-stadium-and-global-television-audience-storming.
There's a reason his Chariots Of Fire spoof felt so magical, so uniting, like we were witnessing a modern-day Eric Morecambe-André Previn moment that will be talked about for years to come. Because, like an athlete at the top of his game, Atkinson has talent (t) and determination (d), and has worked bloody hard to be as great as he is - and the result is a gold medal-winning performance (s). Of course, he's naturally gifted. But he could have squandered that gift. Thankfully for us, and his accountant, he didn't.
Work hard with the talent you've been given, don't let failure set you back, strive to be the best version of yourself that you can possible be - those are the lessons, that's the inspiration, that I'm taking away from these Games, its incredible Olympians, and all those who made it happen. They may not get me down the gym more often - but they've shown me the way in understanding what I need to do to make my Hopes And Dreams™ come true.
"Throughout our childhoods, Olympic champions have been like superheroes to us," Helen Glover also said on winning her gold. "And now that we've done it, it's just like... I mean, we're just little old Heather and Helen!'"
And if little old Heather and Helen can achieve their dream, you can too. Reach for the stars - but remember the crucial part, which S Club 7 sadly neglected to point out: build the ladder to those stars, climb it step by step, and get back on it whenever you fall off. And s (success, stars) will be yours.
*Actually, it was Thomas Edison. That's right: Edison invented the roll-on deodorant!
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