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By Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph. D.

Ever since the first modern Olympic games were held in 1896, athletes have worked hard to ‘go for the gold.’ Baron Pierre de Coubertin brought the ancient Greek Olympiad back to life to recreate the ideals of physical, mental and spiritual excellence demonstrated by the competitors there. This year, the athletes at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver continue this tradition. They‘re training long hours, maintaining a positive attitude, and overcoming their fears - all in an attempt to accomplish their personal best.  

Although you may not be vying for any medals, you can learn about triumphing over worry from the stories of athletes around the world. Here are 8 obstacles to consider as you map out your own personal strategy for success.  

Overcome fear of failure.  For some, failure signifies humiliation and the loss of self-esteem. But when the goal is to perform to the best of your ability, you can feel good about yourself even when you don't come in first place. As Coubertain stated in the Olympic creed, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." Stay focused on your growth and the steps you take, not the outcome. Canadian skier Alexandre Bilodeau personified this ideal. He envisioned his courageous brother as a role model and, in the process, won the gold medal in moguls.

Overcome fear of success. Does thinking about what might happen, after you actually achieve a victory, stop you in your tracks? Or do you worry that you won't meet others' high expectations of you once you win? Believing you must perform perfectly sometimes stands in the way of achieving your goal. U. S. figure skater Evan Lysacek had to deal with this stress at the Olympics, admitting, "I did have some extra pressure coming in as the reigning world champion." He rose to the occasion and skated with passion and skill, winning the gold medal and savoring the experience.

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