It is so important that we do not let our failures break us, but that we choose to bend with the storms life sends us, and find a greater strength than before. Yes, these are easy words to write, but I can safely say I am doing this very thing myself.
I feel motivated by the deep emotion shown by the 2016 Olympians. Their enthusiasm and dedication has awakened a new desire in me to overcome obstacles and hindrances in my own life. How we handle defeat reveals more about our character than how we handle success. I am so moved by some of the Olympians who gave their very best, but were unsuccessful in winning a medal. Today they make their journeys home and try to pick up the pieces that disappointment and loss have dealt them. I want to tell them that they are champions too, whether they wear a medal around their courageous necks or not.
One such Olympian quoted the following:
“The only thing I ever wanted was to compete in the Olympics.”
(Syria’s Yusra Mardini, representing the Games’ first ever refugee team, after winning her 100m butterfly heat.)
I want to say to these amazing Olympians that you can bend without breaking; that what you’re waiting for could be just around the bend…if you can choose not to let the challenges drive you aroundthe bend or lose your mind in the process.
For so many Olympians like the horse jumping champion Nick Skelton, taking part in the 2016 Olympics was a matter of great courage. The veteran British Olympian, aged 58, who quit the sport in 2000 after breaking his neck in two places, vowed: “I am not going to stop now.” Nick Skelton, riding Big Star, won a dramatic six-rider jump-off to claim GB’s first show jumping gold to become the oldest winner of an equestrian event.
Imagine what Skelton would have missed had he given up in 2000, or allowed the fear of ever recovering from a broken neck govern his future. His horse, perfectly named Big Star, had almost been put into retirement too, but Nick Skelton believed that they could come to Rio and win. To even have the opportunity to be an Olympian was a huge achievement for both rider and horse alike. If he had allowed a broken neck to literally break him, his future would not hold the amazing gold medal achievement he enjoys today.
But Nick is a winner, even if he had not won gold. Each Olympian is a winner simply because they overcome so many tough and challenging circumstances in order to compete. There are so many motivational stories being shared every day about the obstacles and personal health setbacks that many overcome in order to finally be in Rio. I am sure a book could be written with all their moving and exhilarating accomplishments. To me, it is one of the reasons I found myself glued to the televised overage each night.
“When life’s strong winds come blowing, bend with them and let go. By bending, you will become stronger in new places. By letting go, you will be making room for the new and the better.”
You are all amazing individuals; you have chosen to bend, but not to break. How you choose to handle your defeats speaks volumes to the world waiting to see strength overcome weakness. Well done! I applaud you because you move me to keep persevering and bend with the storms of life.
The 2016 Olympics have ended, and as I watch the energy of the closing ceremony, I want to awaken a desire in us to overcome the obstacles that try to break us. Make a decision now, that by the time the 2020 Olympics start, you will be able to look back and see how very much stronger you have grown!
Welcome to my latest blog piece for the Irish Academy of Public Relations…
What is your PB? (And no, I don’t mean peanut butter…) =) If you have been gripped by the exciting moments of triumph and devastation that the Olympics bring, then you will know that PB means ‘Personal Best’, and it is usually the absolute desire of every athlete to beat their previous PB record, and win an Olympic gold medal on the way.
Every time I have watched these amazingly well trained Olympians champion their course I am reminded of my own PB, in various areas of my life. When I wake up in the morning I am learning to remind myself that today is a new day to challenge my personal best. I can always try to improve on the choices I made yesterday and give my absolute best in all I endeavour to do.
Michael Phelps has astonished all who have been watching his journey. He has come back from great challenges and a retirement, to win more medals than he even believed he could himself.
Michael’s 200m butterfly gold medal made him the oldest swimmer to win an individual Olympic title at 31 years of age. He has earned the title, ‘GOAT’ – ‘the greatest of all time’, and quite frankly he is a medal machine! As I watched him shed a tear as he held his new three month old son, my eyes filled with tears with him. It felt exhilarating to watch him kick his doubts, fears and physical challenges to the curb and go for gold. My blood raced with motivation and excitement as I watched the faces of the crowds who applauded him; I thought to myself how many of them have overcome their own PB challenges too, and are living testimonies to the same courage we see in Michael Phelps?
Your PB may only matter to you…there may never be a gold medal placed around your neck, but that does not diminish the innate value in giving your best. You can award yourself every day; every time you overcome a challenge or advance towards something you dearly want.
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”
Author of The Inner Game series of books
Sometimes we are truly inspired by the incredible people in our lives who ‘coach’ us and cheer us on in our endeavours and adventures, but there are other seasons in life when we must decide to be our own coach, and that is where the inner game comes to play! I love the ideas in the book The Inner Game of Golf, by Timothy Gallway. I first began to read it because I love the mental disciplines of golf, and wanted to be a great caddie for my dad, and other golfers. I quickly noticed that the game of golf closely resembles the disciplines needed to actually do anything right, not just golf.
“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly alright as it is.” – Timothy Gallway
If you play golf, then you will be more than familiar with your thinking process as you move from swing, drive, shot to fairway, (trees?, water?, OOB?, or bunker?) green, and the hole… During these transitions, what matters is what you think about as you walk to the next shot! It is a lot like life. isn’t it? If you are swinging your way through the trees and trying to find your way back to the better fairways of your life, how you think about who you are, your potential and your goals, makes a humdinger of a difference! It impacts how you end the game, both in golf and in life!
Imagine you are the seed mentioned in Tim Gallway’s quote above; how do you really measure your worth? Can you be patient with your awesome little steps. even if they seem so small compared to others? Can you see that with each day you are possibly letting go of the old way of doing things, and with each new attempt to open up to new things, you are becoming more ‘you’ than you had previously been? Yes, you may need a magnifying glass to see the growth, but you need to be your own best cheerleader and not underestimate the power of the small steps you are taking. As you transition from one part of the game to the next, you need to watch how you think. You need to let go of how the last shot played out and get truly focused on the next shot and give it socks! We all know the quotes out there about letting go of the past and moving on, but it is not always as easy to do as we would like. It also depends on whether the last shot was a success or not.
Are you dragging your driver and your feet to the next shot? If you are, it’s okay, you can change what happens next in your ‘game’. But, if you allow the negative results from badly taken shots determine your confidence and enthusiasm, then you are in for a disastrous ‘game of life’ my friend. Trust me, I know. It matters what you think and do between ‘swings’. and the game of golf is much more about life, then many of us, especially a learner caddie, ever realised!
It may be time to change clubs, rethink your focus, take some time out or just enjoy the challenge instead of worrying about what may or may not happen. Sometimes the ‘game’ goes the way it does through no fault of our own. Just keep showing up, give it your best shot and never stop believing that you are learning as you grow! Don’t focus on other people’s game, just make sure that you show up for yours.