“Many things that end in greatness start with the biggest adversity”

I love the Olympics. Every four years I eagerly await the gymnastics, swimming, diving, track and all the other exciting events that make up The Games. They inspire me and I bawl like a baby when I learn of the adversity many of the athletes faced and the sacrifices made prior to their big day. In the end, all of the hard stuff makes the win so much sweeter.

I know a former elite-level athlete and I saw her journey firsthand. I saw what she had to give up and how she had to tune out the negative voices in her head telling her she would never be good enough. I saw how she had to politely listen to the concerns of coaches, family members and friends whom, with good intentions, warned her not to get her hopes up. They said only a few actually get to represent the US in the Summer Olympics and those that do are typically younger, stronger and more competitive than her.

I can only imagine the pain she felt when the people closest to her reminded her of the “reality” of the situation (which I’m sure she internalized as “you might as well just give up now, because it’s not going to happen”).

It seems that whenever something huge is on the horizon, someone always enters the picture to point out the obvious reality that whatever you’re trying to accomplish might not happen. Really? Like I didn’t know that was a possibility? Thanks for the reminder.

I think the truth is – which, I’ll admit, I have come to from self-evaluation – when people shoot down others’ hopes and dreams, it’s because they themselves don’t have the confidence to dream that big. I’m just tired of living my life that way and limiting myself and others out of fear. And I’m tired of allowing others to have that kind of influence over me.

What it comes down to is… What voice are you going to listen to? The negative one in your own mind saying “you might as well just quit now.” The positive one in your head saying “you can do this!” Or someone else’s entirely?

Leadership expert Stephen Covey says, “Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”

In the end, my friend did not get to represent the United States at the Summer Olympic Games. After more than a decade of training, sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears. But guess what? She did compete in the Winter Olympics.

Never give up.

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