The last two weeks of sporting glory have been the business equivalent of a guilty long lunch. Two weeks of what has felt like national downtime – the chance to share and enjoy national pride, maybe reflect, set aside the pressure of business, enjoy a common pursuit.
But despite a pleasant interlude we’re back to the grim reality this week of an economy in line to shrink by 0.2% in 2012 and talk of a ‘lost decade’ in terms of growth and progress.
What, ask so many, would the country be like if we invested as much sustained time and effort into turning the economy around as we’ve put behind the Olympics and Team GB in the past four years? More importantly, perhaps, what can we learn from the remarkable display of talent and commitment Team GB collectively and individually has demonstrated?
Mo Farah would teach us how proud we should be of our diverse community and how we should embrace it as positively as he has done. Rebecca Adlington would show us all how to be graceful in defeat. Katherine Grainger, finally achieving Olympic Gold after three consecutive Silvers, is an example of how sheer grit and determination can get you to your goal eventually, Nicola Adams and Tom Daley how the enterprise and ambition of youth can overcome the hardest cynic; and anyone competing as part of a team, how trust and communication is the basis of success in any discipline of team sport or business .
Clare Balding gave us a masterclass in professionalism, running her ‘office; with meticulous efficiency under a constant spotlight armed with little more than a clip board and highlighter pen, an overwhelming enthusiasm for her job and what appeared to be hours of preparation.
The Games Makers showed us that we can all find the time and commitment to do something for the greater good if we really can be bothered. The army of supporters, from coaches to families, showed us the value of mentoring and moral support on the bad days as well as the good. Who wouldn’t want the wisdom and comfort of Sir Steve Redgrave at the end of a hard day, picking you up and encouraging you to soldier on? And the rhythmic gymnastics even showed us how to jump through hoops with style and precision.
Ultimately, we’ve learned that nice people can – and do – come first. It restored our faith in integrity and just reward for hard graft amidst the recent backdrop of established business institutions blatantly in it for the short, not the long, term.
We can’t change things overnight but if the Government showed some of the sustained grit, determination and commitment that we’ve witnessed in our athletes this past fortnight – and not forgetting the superhuman Paralympians to come – what could we achieve? Could we find the vision and energy to shift ourselves up the medal table of economies? Roll on The Paralympics.