Saturday, May 2, 2015
You're Gonna Choke
When I was a little girl in 1976, I watched Nadia Comaneci and Olga Korbut perform in the 1976 Olympics in gymnastics. I was just 10 years old but in watching them I wanted nothing more than to go to the Olympics. Big aspirations for a ten year old kid right?! Grandma signed me up for gymnastics at the local YMCA and with much very hard work and sheer determination, I made it to the YMCA's competition team.
As a child, I never had any fear or doubt about doing what I wanted to do. For two years, I worked very hard and in my very last competition, out of 200+ girls in Beverly Hills, California, I placed for the first time. No small fete considering my coach told me I was going to choke that day. I spent my time in between events focusing in my mind performing every routine flawlessly. My coach taught me this many times – “See it in your mind performed flawlessly-know that you can do it just the way you see it and then just do it.” Such valuable words were these.
At that last competition I was nervous and doubtful for seemingly the first time as it was the biggest gymnastics meet I had ever competed in. There were so many people and it was throwing me off during practice. My coach’s words that day stung when she told me I was going to choke and I was mad but I went back to her prior words – “See the performance in your head flawlessly completed, know that you can do it and then do it.”
That is exactly what I did that day. I didn’t take first place but I placed 6th in the all-around and in one or two other events and for me, that was just the best thing ever. By age 12 I was very quickly growing much too tall to be a gymnast and social things were quickly becoming much more important than my 10 year old dream. I chose to end my career as a gymnast. I went out on a good note and I always felt good about that.
Many moons later, I had my eye on Corporate America. Well-meaning friends and others told me I couldn’t get in because back then, I had no degree or training. So, I researched various jobs, studied for them, talked to people, practiced what it would take to do them and then I went for it. I visualized and practiced nailing the interview. I got it. I was roughly 19 when I went into Corporate America as an Administrative Assistant. I worked for several different kinds of companies and watched the leaders of those companies.
I grew up very poor and didn’t care to continue that for the rest of my life. So, I had dreams of becoming an executive because getting into Corporate America wasn’t enough. As I began to pursue my goal, I was told I could never be an executive because I had no degree. I didn't let that deter me. Again, I studied, I listened, I learned and I watched those women and men who were very successful in Corporate America. I was promoted and promoted and promoted. I visualized the next level, I watched those who did it successfully and I went for it and achieved level after level ultimately achieving my set goal somewhere back in 2005 or so.
I think that many of the New Age approaches over simplify the process of attraction by saying “just see it and feel it and you’ll attract it to you." I say that is absolutely not true at all. If it is your path to create certain things, you will create certain things. If you set a reasonably achievable goal, get the facts about what it will take to get there, learn what is necessary to achieve a set goal and then go about taking every step with good intent, confidence and demonstrated ability, the only thing that can stop you then is fear or doubt.
These two stories represent very different scenarios of my life that carried the same theme: Visualizing and then achieving a goal (okay - others too but let's stick to the one easiest to get to on the surface and I'll get to the others in another post). It’s important to remember that we’re very often NOT handed what we think we want for a very good reason. The journey is the destination in goal achievement really. The things I learned after I set goals and went after them are worth more than the actual goal achievement itself. Naysayers do absolutely nothing for you but trigger the ego into fear. Action based on fear leads to trouble eventually and you may find goals set in fear aren’t always so satisfactory once achieved. That is also something I learned.
No matter what goals you set for yourself or how you go about achieving them, you’ll learn even if you seem to fail. I have failed so many times in my life seemingly but when I step back and look at what I’ve learned to create out of nothing and when there was seemingly no hope, I am just in awe. I have created much in my life that I’m grateful for and I wouldn’t trade a single thing. I did realize something important though. The goal isn’t always as important as how you get there. I am not a wealthy woman in terms of assets and dollar signs. But I’m infinitely rich in knowledge in terms of love, a confident knowing that I can create whatever my heart truly desires and that I can do what I love. These are the things that create a wealth to me.
I like to look back at this picture every now and then and see a little girl raised on welfare from a broken home. Even with everything stacked against her, she let nothing deter her - Not social status, not naysayers and not lack of much outside support. I learned a lot in my life and will continue to and that makes me smile. I don’t have to be the smartest, the richest or the best dressed to make me happy. Along life’s little mini journeys I’ve learned to appreciate people, diversity, challenge and beauty. It’s all part of a much bigger goal of getting through life.
© 2015 JL Harter (photo, I believe was taken by a teammate’s parent, most likely the Wells or Dornis Family - I'm pictured standing in the back row, farthest to the left)