Olympic Lessons for Reconstruction

As the sun sets on the 2016 Olympics in Rio and we turn our sights to Tokyo 2020, I’d like to reflect on the last 2+ weeks of intense competition and sportsmanship.  I strongly believe in the Role Model In the Mirror and also find value of lessons from others who are the best at what they do – winners!  Those who have tried, failed, and tried again.  Their tenacity and unwavering dedication and commitment provide some useful nuggets especially as a breast cancer survivor undergoing life reconstruction, adjusting to the new normal, and seeking the very best today and in the future.

I love the back stories of athletes that document their beginnings, their struggles, and everything in between that leads them to the Olympics.  I’m sure you’ve got your favorites, but here are a few of mine:

  • Simone Biles – this 19 year old won four gold medals and a bronze medal dominating women’s gymnastics in her first Olympics.
  • Katie Ledecky – this 19 year old won four gold medals and a bronze medal in some races that weren’t even close.
  • Simone Manuel – this 20 year old won two gold medals and two bronze medals where, in some races, she didn’t seem favored to even get a medal
  • Helen Maroulis – this 24 year old became the first American woman to win a wrestling gold medal. She beat a seemingly invincible opponent and was guided by her mantra “Christ is in me, I am enough.”
  • Allyson Felix – this 34 year old won two gold medals and a silver medal. After a failed baton pass, a challenge and another qualifying run, she won a relay gold medal.  She is the only female track and field athlete to win six gold medals and is tied as the most decorated female track and field athlete with a total of nine medals.
  • Michael Phelps – this 31 year old won five gold medals and one silver medal. He is now the most decorated Olympian with 28 medals.
  • Usain Bolt – this 30 year old (29 during his Olympic runs) completed a triple triple in Rio by winning three gold medals in three Olympics.
  • Claressa Shields – this 21 year old is the first U.S. boxer to win back to back gold medals.
  • Kristin Armstrong – this 42 year old mother won gold (before her 43rd birthday), managing some difficult weather and a bloody nose, in the Olympic cycling time trial; her third consecutive gold.
  • USA Women’s Water Polo team – the team wins a back to back gold medal with Ashleigh Johnson as the first African American goalie on a U.S. water polo team and a coach who lost a brother just prior to the Olympics.
  • Jillion Potter – This 30 year old battled cancer to become a Rugby sevens Olympian.

There are so many other history making and incredible stories, but these are a few that are top of my mind.  Some of the lessons, some of the thread of these stories, are certainly applicable to reconstruction and adjusting to the new normal:

  • See it, Believe it – The athletes visualized and or wrote down their dreams of being great, winning, becoming an Olympian
  • Never settle – The athletes didn’t settle, even launching challenges when, at first blush, it seemed they had no chance of moving forward or winning.
  • Keep going – Obstacles and setbacks didn’t prevent them from trying again and again.
  • No easy path – There were no quick and easy paths; many had to change course in order to move forward and become better.
  • Discomfort can bring forth growth – Many had to leave comfortable situations and surroundings in order to become the best.
  • No shortcuts – There are no shortcuts to a phenomenal outcome; each put in consistent hard work and prioritized their training, research and preparation
  • No excuses – they didn’t use life circumstances, injuries and setbacks as an excuse for not striving for and being their best.

I am always inspired by the Role Model In The Mirror.  These stories and lessons provide some additional inspiration.  As we rebuild, as we adjust to the new normal, remember that there can be many gold medal moments.

Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor.  Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate.  Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.

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