The last couple of weeks I’ve watched a number of athletes achieve long term dreams. I watched Lebron James battle to his first NBA championship. I watched LoLo Jones make the olympic team in the 100m hurdles. I saw Amy Hastings win the 10K at the Olympic Trials.
I watched dozens of others overcome by emotion when they finally broke through to success. And I noticed something.
They never talked about their overwhelming confidence that they’d make it. They didn’t look back on a perfectly orchestrated ascent to success. They didn’t recount the advantages that took them to where they stood.
Instead, they talked about how hard it was to get there, and how many obstacles they had to overcome.
In 2008 Lolo Jones was the best 100m hurdler in the world. She routinely crushed the field in international competitions. In the Olympic finals in Bejing she was once again out in front… until the last hurdle. She clipped it with her heel, lost her balance, and fell across the finish line. Her dreams of gold were over.
Amy was a contender to make the 2008 olympic marathon team – a lifelong dream. She came up short by one place. And after months of preparations her 4th place finish wasn’t good enough to make the team.
Brittany has been one of the best divers in the US for the last two Olympics, but has never made the team. In both 2004 and 2008 she was an alternate, but has never had the honor of being an Olympian herself.
Peter began training with the U.S. Water Polo national team in 1999, but it was ten years before he made an Olympic roster. In 2004 he was knocked out after fracturing his back, and in 2006 he had major shoulder surgery.
What olympians see
Time after time these great athletes performing at the highest level looked back at saw reasons they weren’t supposed to make it.
And over and over again these athletes chose to see opportunity instead of setback.
Lolo overcame a disappointing season and negative expectations to make the 2012 team. Amy Hastings overcame the emotional warfare of coming up short in 2008 and was the top qualifier for the 2012 team. Brittany Viola will won the platform competition in spectacular form to make her first Olympic team. And Peter Hudnut fought through multiple surgeries as well as a two year sabbatical from training to make the 2012 team.
“My season was going so badly that a lot of people counted me out. I shocked everybody! I was not supposed to make this team!” – Lolo Jones
“It’s been a tough six months emotionally to get there, but I’m lucky to have a support system of great friends to lift me up!” – Amy Hastings
“If I hadn’t been through the experience of being an alternate for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, I wouldn’t be going after 2012 like I have. It’s motivated me and pushed me through times when I wanted to give up.” – Brittany Viola
“Going through the hard stuff makes you appreciate the good stuff and makes you understand where you stand with things you truly desire.” – Peter Hudnut
What’s about me?
Over and over again it’s the same story. Champions overcome obstacles to win.
All of these athletes have legitimate reasons to give in. No one would ever blame them for not succeeding. It wasn’t in the cards – it happens. But NONE of these athletes let the cards have their say.
I’ve got to ask myself, what about me? What am I letting hold me back? What am I waiting for?
Permission? Approval? Experience? Validation?
Am I waiting for more time, more energy, or more ideas?
What separates the truly great performers from the rest of us, is that they aren’t waiting around for anything.
What can you do to take the next step toward your goal today?