Personal Guide…

I have never been one for the Winter Olympics. It may well be because I have never been into skiing and because any attempt I have ever made at skating ends up with bruised bones and diminished self-esteem.
I didn’t see much therefore of the recent games in Russia…although I do have to admit to a peculiar fascination for curling. And prior to this weekend I haven’t tuned into anything from the associated Paralympics. Although in the spirit of transparency, my dose of Paralympics was unplanned.
So curling then – what is it all about and where did it come from? Well I have no idea (on either) but it is one of the finest examples of teamwork I have seen in ages. Yes – each team has a leader. And yes – most teams seem to have a star performer. But it is the better teams who win…and the poorer teams who lose.
In the best teams – everyone has their designated role…but will help anyone at any moment. The leader makes the calls on what to do…but everyone contributes their opinions. The level of communication necessary between team members is hard to describe. And there are such strong and trusting relationships between the team members. Teamwork does not guarantee a win…but success without it is virtually impossible.
My accidental viewing of the Paralympics happened this weekend. I have been visiting my parents in their new home. Saturday afternoon my dad and I sat together watching a rugby match on the TV whilst my mum went out with my sister. We chatted. We watched. I remembered. I wondered.
The Paralympics came on in the interval of the game. I had planned to go and buy a coffee at the break, but the announcer made the link quickly and caught me out. Breaking news – a British athlete had won a silver medal (the first ever) in the visually impaired downhill skiing.
As the story I was amazed…and not just because GB won a medal. Whatamazed me was that the winning athlete has less than 5% vision in each eye. And that she was skiing downhill at speeds up to 60mph. It’s hard to conceive of…let alone imagine. That it is possible at all is only because the athlete has complete trust in her partner guide who skis a few feet ahead of her. It is an almost incomprehensible act of faith…
I wouldn’t know where to start. I can’t ski at all, so the comparison is a little irrelevant, but to understand that the guide – who is communicating via radio microphones – has to direct and steer, advise and encourage, praise and cajole…all in split seconds…and all whilst themselves skiing downhill at 60pmh! Words fail me. What do they say? It’s not enough just to get the athlete down to the bottom unharmed…it’s the Olympics – the goal is to be fastest and first. Safe is essential but not enough.
I can’t imagine being the skier. There’s only one person I would have that level of trust and faith in – and I am married to her. But I am even more sure Icouldn’t be the guide. To have that responsibility. Not just for another person’s physical safety but also for their hopes and dreams. Their aspirations.
Perhaps the closest feeling is that of being a parent? As our children get older then we don’t have as much focus on their physical safety…but that drive to help with their hopes and dreams never ends.
The match my dad and I were watching started again. I reached out and held his arm. He smiled. I remembered…and wondered.


About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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4 Responses to Personal Guide…

  1. This reminds me of one of my own favorite sporting analogies of teamwork which I’ve often used in my own presentations. Being a soccer fan (and a fan of the Olympiakos football club, who just beat Manchester United 2-0 in Pireaus, as I am sure you are aware), my analogy is that of total football conceived by Rinus Michels’ and practiced superbly by the legendary Ajax and Dutch national teams back in the 70’s. It is described as follows. A very liberal style of play that allows any player to take on any role at any time. It relies on having a team full of flexible and highly skilled players who have an instinctive understanding of each other, can play in any position, move the ball around fluidly, and continually attack from all sides. Properly played, it is absolutely beautiful to watch. Of course, the critics will note that the national Dutch team never won a trophy, but I think they are missing the point. Now, I am getting ready to watch Olympiakos vs PAOK Salonica which starts in 2 hours. It won’t be total football, I can tell you this much…

    • Steve Street says:


      Another great analogy – thank you. Although i don’t particularly thank you for reminding me about the result two weeks ago for Olympiakos vs Man United. But our chance for revenge comes on Wednesday…total football or not.



      • Steve Street says:

        So Dimitris…what about that return leg then….?

      • That’s the history of modern Greece for you. Constantly shooting ourselves in the foot. Had we scored in that great double chance at the end of the first half, the outcome would have been different. But as we say back home, if my grandmother had a different anatomy, she would have been my grandfather. We fought a good fight. Good luck in the rest of the competition.

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