Adrenaline pumping courage, sweat and tears discipline, and breath-taking athletic accomplishments. Beauty, strength, smiles, and the fruitful culmination of many years of hard work. I love the Olympics! Watching the athletes – almost 🙂 – motivates me to get off the couch and do some push-ups or run a few miles!
There are also the tumbles, falls, heartaches, injuries, and tears. Last night I watched a bit of the Olympics. In the women’s snowboard slopestyle final, Sarka Pancochova, from the Czech Republic, took a horrendous spill on her third jump landing. She caught her snowboard edge, lost her balance, and fell backward. Her head hit the snow hard; her neck whipped back; her body was a limp rag doll tumbling down the slope. When she finally slid to a stop, she laid still, not moving. VIDEO: Watch her fall
Sarka’s helmet broke and cracked open in the back – an intentional protection design.
Incredibly, after just a few minutes, medics reviewed her, and she stood to her feet and finished the course under her on power.
I did a little ski racing when I was young. I remember a terrible finish line wipe-out when my dad also encouraged me to quickly go back up the hill and race again – not allowing the fear and memories to control me or limit my future skiing attempts. I enjoyed skiing for many more years.
I am reading a book now called True North by Bill George. He encourages authentic leadership and claims that leaders do not emerge simply from characteristics, traits, skills, or styles, but rather from life stories. As we test ourselves through real-world experiences and then re-frame those life stories to understand who we are, leaders unleash their passions and discover the purpose of their leadership¹.
Real life stories involve great triumphs… and terrible tragedies. All of those experiences are woven together to make us who we are, if we learn from them and use them to empower our leadership. I have fallen many times in the past, but those are not the defining moments of my life. The real victory comes from getting back on my feet, learning from the experience, and moving forward toward my life purpose.
Sarka did not win the snowboard event, but she definitely has a winner’s attitude. I am sure she will reach amazing accomplishments in her life. Her attitude is a great reminder and example for me.
What is your attitude after a fall? What helps you to get on your feet again? How have your experiences led you to discover your purpose in life?
¹ George, B., 2007,True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, Kindle Locations 201-203