Jeanine Cogan
Executive coach

Jeanine Cogan

Heads Cogan Coaching and is on the faculty of the Center for Continuing and Professional Education at Georgetown University.

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Glorious goals

Q: The Washington Post and other media outlets are keeping careful count of the number of medals the United States and other countries are winning at the Winter Olympics. Should so much attention be focused on the medal count? Is winning gold, silver or bronze a fair measure of Olympic success? What about the athletes who work for years to get to the Games, yet have no shot at winning a medal?

A gold medal means you are number one! You are the best in the world. Silver you are number two! And bronze you are three. Wow! That is a stellar and unique achievement. Putting you in a category with very few people. Indeed, medals matter.

For some of the participants of the Olympics, earning a medal may not be their measure of success as they have other goals matched to their skills and experience. When you do not have a chance at making first place, you can set your own goals for stretching yourself, being your personal best and thus a winner.

When I was in my 20s and living in Boston, I decided to run the Boston Marathon. This was before you had to qualify in order to run. I was part of the group that was affectionately called "the back of the packers."

As my first marathon, I certainly was not setting as a goal to "win" the marathon. Instead I set my own goals based on my abilities and experience. I wanted to finish in less than 5 hours, never stop running, make it up Heartbreak Hill, and sprint at the end. I accomplished all four goals and felt great!

By Jeanine Cogan  |  February 25, 2010; 12:03 AM ET  | Category:  Medals and meaning Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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