Lindsey Vonn: Don’t Stop When it Starts to Hurt
Lindsey Vonn is the first American woman to win a gold medal in the Olympic downhill skiing.
A contender in Torino in 2006, Vonn suffered a terrible crash that sent her to the hospital. She left with pain arching through her legs and back but still competed in five events. She didn’t win any medals in Torino, but the experience prepared her for Vancouver. Suffering a serious shin injury only weeks before the 2010 games, Vonn worked through the pain and roared down the mountain fast enough to win her the gold in the downhill and a bronze in the super G.
In your own career, you’re bound to encounter some icy patches. Sometimes you’ll be uncomfortable, your career will be inconvenient, you’ll be tired, you’ll be sick, you’ll be sick and tired. But like Vonn, sometimes you have to ignore the pain and put up with the hardship in order to achieve your ultimate career goals. Quitting is easy; fighting through discomfort is a lot harder. But usually, it’s worth it. Just ask Lindsey…
Shani Davis: Your Career Doesn’t Have to Be Conventional
A gold medalist in both the Torino and Vancouver Olympics, Shani Davis made history in Italy when he became the first African-American to win an individual gold medal in the Winter Games.
A speed skater from Chicago, Davis’ unlikely journey started out as a toddler gliding along on roller skates. He skated so fast and so well that he replaced his wheels with blades at just six years old. By 16, Davis decided that he wanted to make the Olympic team. Ten years later, his lifetime of dedication has paid off enormously.
Your career, doesn’t have to be traditional. Davis’ story reminds us that by tenaciously staying on track, our goals are realizable over the long-term. Davis is a trailblazer; he didn’t wait for others to go before him. Had he followed convention, he may never have tried out for the Olympics, let alone win multiple medals.
Remember: it’s your dream.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve something just because nobody else has.
Shaun White: Be Fearless, Be Driven
As famous for his skateboarding as he is for his snowboarding, Shaun White has already achieved gold medals in back-to-back Olympics.
Not content just to be better than everyone else, he constantly challenges himself. He pushes beyond what he—and everyone else—thinks is possible. And while the results speak for themselves, it’s important to remember that he—like the rest of us—doesn’t always land on his feet.
White is so successful because he doesn’t allow fear of failure to stop him from trying new things or pushing himself out of his comfort zone. When White suffers a devastating wipeout, he doesn’t shy away from ledge. Instead he goes harder, bigger, and faster.
Your career will have its ups and downs, but the downs can be shorter and the ups more meaningful if you charge into the unknown with confidence.
Evan Lysacek: Don’t Quit Just Because Somebody is Better Than You
Evan Lysacek is the first American man to win the gold for figure skating since 1988.
Early in his ice skating career, Lysacek wanted to quit because his sister was better than him. His mother didn’t let him. She told him that when people are better than, you just need to work even harder than they do. It’s a life lesson that has served Lysacek well; he reigns as an Olympic gold medalist and a decorated world champion across various international contests.
Tenacity, endurance, and practice can beat natural ability. Evan Lysacek didn’t spend his life planning on winning a gold medal.
Unlike some of his competitors, he didn’t feel entitled to the honor. Instead, he hoped for gold, he trained for gold, and in Vancouver, he earned his gold. When the time came, his years of dedication allowed him to perfectly execute a routine that was only possible because of his years of practice.
You don’t have to be born the best to become the best.
All photos Courtesy of Creative Commons