An Olympic Lesson in Focus

This content is recommended for 30~60 minute sessions. Note that tutors may not be familiar with the content. Make sure you consult with your tutor before using this material. 


After a quick greeting, read the following article out loud. Your tutor will go over pronunciation if necessary.

CREDIT: Getty Images

[P1] In 7 Moments…that Define Excellent Leaders, I share the story of Charlie Jones. Charlie is a sportscaster who has covered several Olympic games in his long career. At the 1996 games in Atlanta, he was assigned to announce the rowing, canoeing and kayaking events – a situation that left him less than thrilled, since it was broadcast at 7 a.m. and the venue was an hour’s drive from Atlanta.

[P2] What Jones discovered, however, was that it ended up being one the most memorable sports events in his career because he gained a chance to understand the mental workings of these Olympic athletes.

[P3] Preparing for the broadcast, Jones interviewed the rowers and asked them about conditions such as rain, strong winds or breaking an oar. Each time the response was the same: “That’s outside my boat.”

[P4] After hearing the same answer again and again, Jones realized that these Olympic athletes had a remarkable focus. In their attempt to win an Olympic medal, he writes: “They were interested only in what they could control…and that was what was going on inside their boat.”

[P5] Everything else was beyond their control and not worth the expense of mental energy that would distract them from their ultimate goal. Jones writes that this insight made the event “by far the best Olympics of my life,” and it changed his thinking in other parts of his life as well.

[P6] You might remember a moment when you had to redirect team members’ efforts back “inside the boat” to remain focused. I personally remember having to jump overboard a few times to rescue employees who had drifted way outside our boat! There are plenty of distractions and concerns outside your boat, but to win the race stay focused on what’s inside your boat.



Read the word/expression and definition out loud. Your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.

Vocabulary/ Expressions

Expression Definition
venue (n) the place where an event takes place
e.g. a sports venue
remarkable (adj) unusual or surprising : likely to be noticed
e.g. Competing in the Olympics is a remarkable achievement.
expense (n) An expenditure of money; a cost
e.g. an improvement that was well worth the expense
overboard (adv) over the side of a ship into the water
e.g. The boy fell overboard and almost drowned.
drift away (p.v) To move away from something slowly, especially while floating on water.
e.g. I guess the inner tubes all drifted away from each other because they’re now scattered across the pool.

Discussion Questions

Use the following questions as a guideline to help develop an interesting conversation with your tutor. Feel free to diverge from these suggestions if anything interesting comes up.

  1. Summarize the article in your own words.
  2. Who is Charlie Jones? What did he find out about at the 1996 games in Atlanta?
  3. Describe the boat and rowers analogy. What is Jones referring to?
  4. Do you agree with Jones that “to win the race [you should] stay focused on what’s inside your boat”? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!


Go over any new expressions or vocabulary that you learned today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s