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Leadership on track


We all cheer the superhuman feats at the Summer Olympics in Rio.

  • Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps’ power in the pool.
  • Usain Bolt’s record-breaking runs.
  • Simone’s Biles jaw-dropping gymnastics.

We find ourselves asking in awe, “How do they do that?” We may lament from the comfort of our couches, grasping the TV remote, “I could never do that.”

But the Olympics’ most notable feat may be one we all can do.

We were stunned and inspired by the show of sportsmanship on the track.

During a preliminary race in the women’s 5,000-meter run, Abbey D’Agostino of the U.S. and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand collided and fell. They helped each other get up, shake it off, and complete their runs. They finished last.

Two runners who spent their lives training for the Olympics had made it to the world stage and the only thing between themselves and their goals were their competitors – those who had the same goal. But in this case, the spirit of competition was eclipsed by the spirit of compassion.

Though they were both advanced to the finals because of the collision, their dreams were dashed. D’Agostino had a torn ACL among her injuries and would not be able to compete in the finals. Hamblin finished the final in last place.

As the nations of the world convened in Rio to test the ancient Olympic motto “faster, higher, stronger,” it was the unparalleled display of sportsmanship that was most remarkable. We are reminded of a favorite quote: “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” We believe this can be applied to women – and to anyone in need of a helping hand.

Like the other Olympians, D’Agostino and Hamblin proved they were superhuman. But they also showed their superlative humanity. And they proved you don’t need to be the first one across the finish line to be a true leader.

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