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.