I recently watched the movie Eddie the Eagle on Netflix, the story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, a ski jumper who represented Great Britain at the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. He was the first ski jumping competitor to represent Great Britain in the Olympics since 1929 and the only member of his team. Eddie finished 73rd out of 73 competitors in both the 70 metre and 90 metre jumps. So, why would anybody make a movie about someone who finished last?
I remember Eddie and his appearance at the Olympics. Although he did not win he became a symbol for doing your best and having a positive attitude. He became a beacon of positivity and a joy to watch. In the end, he was possibly the most revered participant at the Olympics that year.
According to the movie, Eddie wore leg brace as a child and also endured and overcame many barriers on his way to the Olympics. Almost everyone told Eddie to give up on his dream of going to the Olympics.
When people told him he couldn’t do it, he kept going. When people told him he couldn’t go, he just kept saying that he was going. When the British Olympic committee raised the distance necessary to qualify for the Olympics, in hopes of eliminating him, Eddie tried harder. In spite of all odds, and in the face of all obstacles, Eddie persevered.
Obviously, Eddie will not go down in history as a great ski jumper, but he will be remembered for his tenacity, his willingness to keep trying and his undeniable positive attitude. When Eddie did what others considered a terrible jump, Eddie chose to focus on the fact that he had set a new British record.
In my mind, we can all learn something from Eddie the Eagle. Too many people put forward the least amount of effort possible and then bemoan the fact that they have failed. Sometimes people only try once and then determine that the world is against them. Instead of listening to their inner voice and their own self-knowledge, they listen to the voices of those who tell them that they can’t.
I have seen this many times, mostly in people’s approach to their life and their career. They put forth a half hearted effort. They can’t be bothered to update their skills to stay competitive. They can’t be bothered to make a resume specifically for the job they want. They can’t be bothered to go out and talk to people and find out how to move themselves and their career forward. Then when they fail, they see themselves as victims of the system or the Labour Market.
Recently, Eddie returned to Calgary to mark the 25th anniversary of his Olympic glory. Waiting for him were some children who had seen the movie and knew Eddie’s reputation. They saw him as an inspiration and a role model. To them, Eddie was a hero.
What would happen if we all put forth our best effort and just kept trying to do our best? What would happen if we had a positive attitude and projected a positive attitude out into the world? What would happen if we kept going towards a goal, towards a job, towards a life? You may only find out if you follow the wisdom of Eddie. Just jump!