If you aspire to anything in life, whether it be athletic, personal, professional, educational, spiritual, or any other passion that stirs your soul, it was hard not to get jacked listening to John Furlong speak last night at the opening ceremony for the Olympics. While he spoke of how proud Canada is to be hosting the games, it was a very humble pride, filled with many points about the burden of responsibility that comes with such honor. I have always been a big fan of the games, and following on my mom's example, quite a sap for the ceremony of the opening ceremonies. It is a rare chance for the world to come together, and for the host country to really welcome everyone, in their own style and tradition.
There are many examples in sport as there are in life of folks who do not live up to our expectations, or "celebrities" who are worshiped for the wrong reasons. For one night, and maybe a couple weeks while the games go on, it is nice to suspend disbelief for a bit, and just soak up the pride of a nation, the honor of competition, and the dedication that it takes to uphold those ideals. Read John's words, as I don't think there are many that will not find some motivation in them, whatever "sport" you are pursuing.
Text of VANOC CEO John Furlong's speech Friday at the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games:
Excellencies, president and members of the International Olympic Committee, members of the Olympic family, athletes of the world, ladies and gentlemen.
Bienvenue. Welcome to Vancouver
With Jack Poole and Nodar Kumaritashvli in our hearts, and standing on the shoulders of every Canadian, I commit that the men and women of Vancouver 2010, our partners and our friends, are ready to deliver the performance of a lifetime.
Tonight through the magic of television we visit the living rooms of the world to tell our story. And as we do, we invite people everywhere to share and experience, even if just for a few moments, what it feels like to be a proud Canadian. As you, the best Winter Olympic athletes of all time, enter the arena prepared for you here in Canada to compete in the honour and glory of sport.
Seizing the moment to inspire the youth of the world through your heroic efforts, you carry with you the hopes and the dreams of so many.
You are role models for our children - heroes, giants, human champions, the best ever. You are living proof that men and women everywhere are capable of doing great good, and that in life as it is in sport, we should always give our best and never, ever give up.
You are our beacon of hope in a world so much in need of peace, healing, unity, generosity and inspiration. Youth the world over aspire to be just like you. You compete with such bravery, conviction and pride. At these Games you now have the added burden to shine and be united around your fallen colleague Nodar. May you carry his Olympic dream on your shoulders and compete with his spirit in your hearts.
Many thousands have made tonight and the days ahead possible, but the spirit and soul of all 33 million Canadians has been sewn into the fabric of these Winter Olympic Games. This journey has not been about the few but rather the many. All Canadians – Aboriginal Canadians, New Canadians, English and Francophone Canadians.
And the myriad of cultures, micro-cultures, languages and peoples that make Canada Canada. And tonight the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history ends in this stadium after an epic, unforgettable journey of discovery across a land visually blessed, rich in history and profoundly human.
The Olympic Flame has touched many millions and prompted spontaneous, peaceful celebration. Reminding us all that those values that unite and inspire the best in us we must never abandon. As the Olympic Cauldron is lit, the unique magic of the Olympic Games will be released upon us.
Magic so rare that it cannot be controlled by borders. The kind of magic that invades the human heart touching people of all cultures and beliefs. Magic that calls for the best that human beings have to offer. Magic that causes the athletes of the world to soar and the rest of us to dream.
Tonight, here, in the glow and wonder of the Flame, we can all aspire to be Olympian. From whatever continent you have come we welcome you to Canada, a country with a generous heart. We love that you are here. You are among good friends. Vous etes parmis vos amis.
We are honoured to be received into so many hearts and homes all over the world this night. And we aspire to leave you with breathtaking memories to last a lifetime. Let us all be reminded that the world is indeed watching. Hoping. Cheering. If you listen, you can almost hear the voices.
Through our example tonight and over the 16 days to come our children will begin to dream and believe in what is possible. Lives of great significance begin with a spark, a nudge, a gesture. Together let us touch as many as we can, while we can.
On this the proudest night of my life, I thank my loyal, selfless teammates; our tireless, smiling "blue jacket" volunteers; our partners; our thoughtful leaders; the IOC and global Olympic family and our many friends and families for their belief, their endurance, their sacrifice, and their courage.
And of course thanks to the thousands of media, story-tellers and broadcasters, who will shape and chronicle every details of this adventure for its place in history.
To the people of the Games host communities, we applaud you for your spirit and for opening your hearts and your homes to the world. And of course we thank the billions watching across the globe who hope and pray for our success. Tonight we are, as we have been, One Team. Une Equipe.
And in keeping with proud Olympic tradition we have given this grand, human adventure our very best. As the 21st Olympic Winter Games, Canada’s Games, begins, it is with glowing hearts, des plus brilliants exploits, that we wish you all the time of your lives.
Que l’esprit des Jeux vous habite.
Thank you all and may God bless Canada and the world's best athletes
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Chris Mahlmann is the founder, CEO, and publisher of the LIFE networks and has developed the industry standard for connecting people with all that is positive in their community. Visit Chris on Google Plus, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.