Lessons in Leadership from Phelps, Schmitt and the Fab Five in London

When I moved back to Michigan, I didn’t realize there would be so many local heroes to root for in the London Olympics – and so many lessons in leadership.  Yet today’s Detroit Free Press was loudly trumpeting not only the  USA’s Fab Five gymnasts, whose leader is from DeWitt, but also legendary  swimmers Michael Phelps of UofM’s Club Wolverine and Allison Schmitt of Canton.

Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history on Tuesday when he captured his 19th medal and Schmitt is dominating the women’s swimming competition with three medals so far. Yet I found the most inspiring moments came from watching the US women gymnasts pull together to win gold as a team after their leader failed to qualify for the individual round.

Jordyn Wieber is the world champion and was expected to be the top contender for an individual gold medal – but instead the opportunity went to her teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas.  Jordyn broke down in tears when her early performance fell short and eliminated her from contention — and everyone questioned whether she could pull herself together to lead her team to victory the next day.

She not only did overcome her pain, but she did it with great style.  According to commentators, The Fab Five, also including Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney, ended up winning over strong competition more convincingly than the Magnificent Seven, the legendary gymnasts who triumphed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Jordyn emerged as a giant in Olympic team gymnastics by coming back from personal defeat to lead her team to victory and a lasting place in history.  Her courage provides a great lesson for all of us competing in life, whether it involves business, athletics or personal goals. Michael Phelps also had to settle for less than gold a few times on his way to immortality. There were many other lessons in courage on display already in the 2012 London Olympics and more to come.  Never give up! http://www.nbcolympics.com/

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