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As part of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, these 12 Southern California fellows are engaged in a full-time, nine-month, graduate-level leadership training program that prepares individuals for public-affairs leadership.

Moments of excellence

Canada appears to have fallen far short of its goal of "Owning the Podium" at the Vancouver Olympics. How can leaders know the difference between a "stretch" goal that inspires people to reach new heights and an unattainable goal that winds up demoralizing people?

Canada is hardly flopping in the Olympics. While their goal to "Own the Podium" is ambitious, there is nothing wrong with having high expectations. "Stretch goals" are obtainable if all the ingredients of success are present: careful planning, motivation, and a little luck. Even then, the individual or team still needs to make that giant leap to glory.

Demoralization comes from feeling fear and doubt. It does not come from having high goals. Limitations only have power when one believes in the fears that give them life. Because of the Canadian team's high goals and their desire to not just win, but win big, many amazing things have happened that demonstrate the team's resolve.

Just a couple of days into these Olympics, Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada's first gold medal in freestyle skiing. The Canadian men's hockey team made it to the semi-final round after an overwhelming victory against the Russians. Joanie Rochette, just days after her mother's death, gave a courageous figure skating performance in which every second was just as powerful, emotional, and inspirational as the last.

These moments are what the games will be remembered for. Canada might not have achieved their desired medal count, but they have sought excellence, and are now in a different realm because of it. The Canadians are close to achieving the highest amount of gold medals they have ever achieved in a single Winter Olympic Games. If this is the result of having goals that are out of reach, then that giant leap is always worth it. --Jimmy Duong

Clearly un-Canadian

The Canadian reputation for hospitality, friendliness, and mellowness is world-renowned; Canadians aren't widely regarded as an "in your face," competitive bunch. While aspiring to "own the podium," and shoot from a fifth-place finish in the Torino medal count to a first-place finish in Vancouver, may represent a major athletic and financial challenge, the larger problem stems from the disconnect between this lofty, aggressive goal and core Canadian values. It's one thing to stretch a group to embody its values at a higher level, but it's quite another to stretch it to a point where the group is unrecognizable. -- Sean Holiday

By Coro Fellows

 |  February 25, 2010; 12:33 AM ET
Category:  Sports Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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There is such a street party / rave going on in Vancouver right now, I don't think anybody is feeling too bad. Next week, there may be some sore heads!

Posted by: MHawke | February 26, 2010 12:52 PM
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More power to the Canadians, our neighbors to the North. My wife and I have visited Canada many times, both Eastern and Western, and have always found the people to be friendly, polite, welcoming, and genuinely nice.

Vancouver is a beautiful,clean city that richly deserves its reputation for its quality of life. We've been there twice and will visit again in September on the way up to Alaska. It is a marvelous place to visit.

Canada deserves great credit for organizing and putting on Olympic Winter Games worthy of their country. I'll pull for the US hockey team, but Canada should be the favorite for the Gold Medal. Just ask the Russians.

Posted by: chuffman1 | February 26, 2010 10:18 AM
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CARIBOOTROUTFITTERS wrote: "We have suddenly discovered we are the best nation of people in the world."


Look, every country thinks they're "the best nation of people"--whatever THAT means.

However, the fact that it took the Olympics for you (YOU) to arrive at this conclusion is just sad, sad, sad.


Posted by: DaveGeorge1 | February 25, 2010 3:56 PM
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I definitely agree. Canadians are tough and fearless. We have fought together as allies for god knows how long and we couldn't ask for better comrades. These have been some great games with lots of great moments like the first guy says. That performance by that Canadian girl was definitely something to behold. I had tears in my eyes at the end.

I can't wait for the gold medal hockey game between the US and Canada.

Posted by: Aviator5 | February 25, 2010 2:07 PM
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"Un-Canadian"? Possibly, or more likely, different from what others have perceived us to be. Yes, we are "polite", but try not to forget that, when required, Canadians are also known for being tough, mean, fearless and ruthless. Ask anyone who has met us on a battlefield(or on a hockey rink). We are hosting the Winter Olympics, these are OUR Olympics, on OUR "home ice". "In your face" ? Damn right! Get used to it. We have suddenly discovered we are the best nation of people in the world.

Posted by: caribootroutfitters | February 25, 2010 12:15 PM
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