Reflections on the Winter Games: Excellence on Display

With the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Games now in the rearview mirror, I’m beginning to realize just how much the Olympics can mean to so many people, and not just the athletes.

While some events provide entertainment for the curious (curling) and others provide excitement for the patriotic (ice hockey), the Olympic Games hold lessons and other moments of inspiration for us all.

Shattering the Quantity vs. Quality Myth

From time to time our members have a tendency to latch on to various pieces of misinformation, least among them the quantity vs. quality myth.  That is, the only way to increase manpower is to relax initiation standards.  “We like to keep our chapter small so we can have a closer brotherhood,” or “those larger chapters just give bids to everyone,” we often hear.

However, numerous chapters across the country serve as counterexamples to this pervasive myth.  More often than not the largest chapters on campus top the GPA report.  Larger chapters tend to raise more money per member than smaller chapters for philanthropic causes.  Larger chapters also tend to boast a higher percentage of members involved in other campus organizations.  These chapters show us that with the right paradigm and sound chapter operations, manpower and brotherhood can increase simultaneously.

The United States, Germany and Canada provided more athletes than all other participating countries in the 2010 Winter Games.  And apparently more quality athletes, too, taking the number one, two and three spots respectively on the overall medal count.  Indeed, quantity and quality can coexist.

For many well-intentioned collegians, the quantity vs. quality myth is more likely a last-ditch attempt to rationalize poor performance.  Choosing the right paradigm is often all it takes to start some positive momentum.

Making an Appearance vs. Expecting to Win

Some countries are happy just to be at the Games.  The United States, Canada and a few others, however, aren’t there to make an appearance; they expect to win.

Similarly, our perennial Rock Chapters expect to win; anything short of Rock Chapter is a disappointment.  They didn’t get there in one year, and probably not even in five years, but they created a culture of excellence where winning is a basic expectation.  It’s not written into the bylaws or talked about at meetings.  It’s just understood from day one that they will strive to be the best.

The leadership habits we develop now—and no doubt the work ethic Olympic athletes develop in their training—carry over later in life.  If your chapter is content with merely having a charter then now is the time to change.  As the popular saying goes, “good enough never is.”

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