Don’t Quit!

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.

-Vince Lombardi

We are emotional beings. Indeed, we hold our emotions in such high regard that we’re advised to “follow our heart,” and to “pursue our passion.” While being happy, getting angry, and feeling sad are all part of a healthy human experience, it’s beneficial to remember their ephemeral nature; our feelings come and go, being strong one day, and diminished the next. Allowing these powerful, ever-changing forces to direct our daily actions can be a recipe for disaster, if we allow them to distract us from our chosen course.

Any great accomplishment in life requires a lot of time and effort. Sports provide the perfect example. To become a world-champion takes years of hard work, day-in, day-out, practicing the same moves again, and again, for hours every day. Such intense training means there will be injuries and set-backs. It also requires sacrificing time with family and friends. Such redundancy, difficulty, and sacrifice means that even the most dedicated athlete will experience days or even weeks when they just don’t feel like it. Yet, the victorious find a way to push through these periods.

“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

-Vince Lombardi

This past weekend, Simone Biles won her sixth record-tying, all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. Not only did she win in resounding fashion, but she nailed two, never-before moves. She did a double-double (two flips & two twists) dismount off of the beam, and she pulled off a triple-double on her floor routine – both firsts for women’s gymnastics! Many are calling her the greatest of all time.

In the 2016 Olympics Ms. Biles and her fellow teammates Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, and Aly Raisman made up the Final Five. This powerhouse of a team dominated the competition bringing home the Gold in the team event, while also medaling in each and every individual event as well. Their memoirs are the stuff of legend; each of them experienced difficulty, and dealt with the trials & tribulations so common in great endeavors, yet persevered to succeed.

The Final Five, Agência Brasil Fotografias [CC BY 2.0]

Gabby Douglas, for example, wanted to quit leading up to the 2012 London Games. She wrote to her mother,

“Gymnastics is not my passion anymore. I want to get famous off of running track, or I want to try dancing, or become a singer. I can get a job at Chick-Fil-A in Virgiia Beach and live off the 14 grand I just won at world Championships. I just want to be a normal teenage kid.”

– Gabby Douglas, Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith

Gabby, however, went on to compete in those Olympic Games. She and her teammates won Gold in the team event. She became the first woman of color to win the individual all-around, and the first american gymnast to win both the team event and individual in the same Olympics!

It’s o.k. to feel like quitting – just don’t quit!

It is normal to have moments of doubt, to feel like quitting – especially when the endeavor is a long, arduous one. Whether it’s gymnastics, working an a college degree, a job, or training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the key is recognizing this feeling for what it is, then re-focus on one’s goals, and stay the course! Greatness could be just around the corner.

See you on the mat.

Learn more about these amazing athletes in their own words….

Biles, Simone. Courage to soar: a body in motion, a life in balance. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2016.

Douglas, Gabby. Grace, Gold, and Glory: my leap of faith. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2012.

Hernandez, Laurie. I Got This: to gold and beyond. New York, NY: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017.

Raisman, Aly. Fierce: how competing for myself changed everything. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2017.