As the 2021 (or should we say 2020?) Olympics are well underway, I’ve been scrolling through online articles to learn about the athletes and stories of their Endurance. And no, I’m not talking about physical Endurance. I’m talking about the Thoughtfully Fit practice of Endurance.
Years of intense training.
Representing your country on an international stage.
Only a few moments to offer your career’s greatest performance.
Take a moment to imagine this immense pressure.
Yet these amazing individuals handle the pressure with grace. How do they do it? Consistent training and keeping the focus on their goals. If you’re a history buff, see if you remember these inspirational stories:
- Etenesh Diro ran the Steeplechase in one shoe winning her the affectionate nickname, Cinderella
- Michael Phelps lost his goggles during the 200m Butterfly and still won
- Greg Louganis smacked his head on a diving board in Seoul and won gold just days later
But we don’t have to look to the past to see examples of athletes overcoming obstacles. In the last few days in Tokyo:
- Lydia Jacoby lost her goggles during a relay and still powered through to a strong finish
- Sifan Hassan fell in the last lap of the 1,500, got up after everyone passed her, and won her heat
The American Olympian getting arguably the most spotlight this year is Simone Biles.
Why is everyone talking about Simone?
Last week, Simone chose to withdraw from the all-around final (a competition she hasn’t lost since 2013) to focus on her mental health.
The criticism has been brutal. A quick peek on Twitter will show you unkind comments and relentless people questioning her stamina, saying she doesn’t “have what it takes,” and using words like “childish” or “selfish.” But is there another perspective? I certainly think so!
Simone easily could’ve found herself trapped by the pressure and competed regardless of her reservations. Instead, she was aware of the choices she had and did what she felt was best for herself and her team. She knew there would be criticism and she was visibly disappointed. Yet in all of her statements, it’s clear that she considered her options and that she’s acting thoughtfully. (Is there an emoji for “slow clap?”)
This is incredibly difficult to do in day-to-day life – let alone with the whole world watching. In celebration of Simone and her bravery, we want to encourage you to consider where you might benefit from practicing Endurance in your life.
Having Endurance doesn’t mean you push through the pain to win at all costs. True Endurance is about choosing intentionally how to approach your obstacles.
Don’t Build Your Own Trap
My coaching clients often find they’ve been moving through life at full-speed on autopilot when suddenly they feel stuck. Jobs, family, marriage, mortgages… obligations add up quickly and many of us get lost in the to-do lists, sports schedules, and daily grind. We end up doing things we don’t actually want to do because it feels like there are no other options.
How do we keep from feeling trapped? We take a lesson from Simone Biles and identify our choices. Start by asking thoughtful questions.
- “I’m exhausted, but I can’t slow down.”
- How do I want to show up?
- What do I need right now?
- “No matter how much I give, it doesn’t seem to be enough.”
- How do I give back to myself?
- What’s most important to me?
- “My job is ruining my life.”
- What does a successful life look like to me?
- What can I do today to move towards the life I want?
Each of us will have very different challenges that may keep us from pursuing our own success. And there’s always more than one way to overcome those challenges.
In order to build Endurance (and all six of the Thoughtfully Fit practices!) start by engaging your core: identify what you control and explore your choices.
One-Minute Core Workout
The next time you’re bumping up against a challenge, find a path forward with these three simple steps:
Pause. When the going gets rough and you’re feeling stuck, Pause.
Think. What can I do at this moment to move myself forward? What would it mean for me to get past this challenge? How do I want to feel on the other side of this?
Act. Take that first step and move forward with intention.
While we can’t all win Olympic gold medals, life gives us plenty of opportunities to choose our best life. Whatever the “gold” may look like for you, strive for it with Endurance by building your core confidence and getting Thoughtfully Fit.
We’ll be cheering for you!
Mike Birbiglia’s comedy album, Sleepwalk with Me, shares his struggle with a sleepwalking disorder that has put him in the hospital with near-fatal injuries more than once. Team member, Kara Barnes, shares Mike’s hilarious and heartfelt album as an example of someone tapping into their Endurance to overcome a personal battle.