Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How To Go From Good To Great

Photo: taylorshocks.wordpress.com

Hello Optimists,

I saw a news headline yesterday that said "Olympic Darling Back in the Spotlight" accompanied by a picture of an Olympic gymnast whose image had been emblazoned in my mind fourteen years ago, announcing her "leap" into marriage. Of course I had to read it, as she was one of my biggest idols growing up. I feel like everyone knows the story of the U.S. women's team back in '96....sure, you remember...with everything on the line, Kerri Strug was the last gymnast to vault, and fighting through an incredibly painful ankle injury, managed to make it down the runway, pull an amazing vault and land (with one foot!) to bring home the gold. I'm not sure if you were watching live, but I remember staying up with my dad long past my bedtime to watch the finals of the gymnastics competition.  My eyes were glued to the television in anticipation of a possible U.S. team gold, and I sat and watched every move that was made. I can still remember Bela Karolyi yelling his now famous "YOU CAN DO IT!" and I could almost feel the tension inside of that arena. Seeing her injure her ankle in the first vault sent a shock wave through the nation and it seemed like the air was suddenly let out of the U.S. Olympic balloon. But when it seemed like all hope was lost, Kerri Strug pulled through and held the U.S. on top in an amazing display of perseverance and strength. 

As you can probably tell, I am still as much of a fan now as I was fourteen years ago, and for good reason. Regardless of whether you're a fan of sports or not, the lessons Kerri taught us through that amazing feat are really incredible. Gymnastics was her passion, she had devoted her whole life to it and her attendance at the Olympics marked the peak of her athletic career. Working so hard for so long for something that was so important to her gave her enough courage to keep pushing, even through an injury that would immediately land most of us in the hospital. She had developed an incredible bond with her teammates, working and training together for many months in preparation for this event. Not only was she representing herself and her teammates, she was representing the whole nation. Talk about pressure. But because she realized the impact she was having on so many people and the importance of her "job", she was able to see the bigger picture and look past the pain. Okay, so I know we're not all Olympic gymnasts, but clearly we can all learn something from this vault seen around the world. 

It's no surprise that Kerri has some inspiring words to offer, and I thought as a special wedding gift, I'd send my congratulations on her nuptials by featuring one of her quotes. 
It's important to push yourself further than you think you can go each and every day-- as that is what separates the good from the great. -Kerri Strug
Well, I would say she sure knows a thing or two about pushing yourself further than you think you can go, and her story definitely shows how she separated herself from the good to become great. So coming from someone who has actually lived these words, I think we can give her some definite credibility on this one. 

This is something we all need to keep in mind each and every day. It's easy to call it quits a few minutes early or to lower the speed on the treadmill before your time is up...nothing wrong with that, right? Well, no, there's nothing really wrong with that, but are we really doing all that we're capable of by not trying to be the best we can be? It's hard to always give 100%...sometimes we're just too tired, sometimes we're just not motivated...but think about what a big difference you can make by giving that extra little "umph"! Why just be good when we can be great

Keep Smiling,

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Check out this related post from the archivesGive It A Little Umph 

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