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Faster, Higher, Stronger

Have you ever been involved in a project that seemed doomed from the start? Where everything that could go wrong, did? Take heart: sometimes we just need to find someone who’s even worse off, and then our own troubles don’t seem so bad.

You have to feel for the organizers of the coming Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. With only a couple of weeks remaining before the Games begin, Murphy’s Law has firmly taken hold: every day brings an announcement from another major athlete that he or she will not attend due to the Zika virus, security concerns or both; the state of Rio is so strapped for cash that they’ve sold off their Governor’s mansion and the island it sits on; crime and poverty are at levels difficult for Americans to imagine;  and oh, yes: Brazil’s President is about to be impeached (although they’ll wait until the Games are over).  Throw in the usual panic about uncompleted construction projects and pending deadlines, and you have a perfect storm of a mess.  The good news: plenty of prime tickets remain available.

But you know what? Once the torch is lit, I believe most of those concerns will fall by the wayside in favor of the reasons we watch in the first place: to see the greatest athletes in the world compete. The amateur spirit of the Games has long since fallen by the wayside, but for every NBA star in Rio there will be someone we’ve never heard of who accomplishes the unimaginable and captures our attention.

Locally, we’ll cheer for the amazing and ageless Michael Phelps, swimming in an unprecedented 5th Olympics.  But we’ll also watch to see who will approach perfection in their sport and become the next household name like Nadia Comaneci, Mark Spitz or Marylou Retton. Or who will inspire us by persevering through injury, as did Kerri Strug and Greg Louganis.

We know that most of Rio’s troubles will be swept under the rug in the made-for-TV production that the modern Olympics has become, but at their heart, the Games will inspire us to try harder and do better at whatever our own “events” are, in business and in life.

Citius, Altius, Fortius. Faster, Higher, Stronger. For the athletes and for all of us in business, those are worthy goals. Best of luck, Rio.

Mike Popowski is President of PBI Restorations. Reach him at