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Share The Podium

March 6, 2010

No one achieves anything of consequence alone. Every Olympian employs an army of physios and equipment pros, technique coaches and sports shrinks. The classiest Olympians don’t just own the podium they share it. Olympic Ice Dance Champion Tessa Virtue thanked her physiotherapist first, then her family and then Skate Canada. Who makes you look good?

Sharing the podium is a time-honoured tradition in sports. After the medals have been given and the national anthem played, the gold medalist invites the silver and bronze winners to join them on the top of the podium. I have done this, been the climee and the invitee. It’s a nice moment if you remember not to fall off the suddenly tiny podium, which I have done.

Sharing the podium is critical. Tom Raith and Donald Clifton PhD in How Full is Your Bucket, Positive Strategies for Work and Life by Gallup Press (2005) state that “Praise is rare in most workplaces. One poll found that an astounding 65% of Americans reported receiving no recognition for good work in the past year.”

I witnessed a great example of how to share the podium from Canada’s beloved sportscaster Brian Williams. Williams was the head of CTV’s Olympic coverage. When the Olympics were over and half the planet was in Vancouver airport, I heard Williams’ voice and followed it to say thanks for his coverage. I wasn’t alone. He was being thanked by everyone in the The Maple Leaf lobby. Instead of sucking up the praise like a Dyson vacuum cleaner, he shared the podium. He mentioned two women’s names (I had no pen but if someone knows who they are let me know) and said that they are the ones who made it all possible.

Then the sixty-two-year-old, dressed in jeans and a navy sports jacket bounded up the stairs, two at a time leaving the rest of us knowing why we love him so much.

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Louise B. Karch