You cannot afford to give up just yetWritten by Cynthia Chirinda Hakutangwi
As year-end approaches and the New Year beckons, sometimes we may feel that the going is getting tougher as we race to complete what we started earlier in the year. The temptation to throw in the towel and give up is great. These are the moments when you need motivation and inspiration to keep forging ahead against all odds. Derek Redmond, Wilma Rudolph, Kerri Strug, are examples of some of the iconic figures from the history of the Olympic games. They are all proof that strength comes from within and it conquers any obstacle, pain, and injustice.
You can pick yourself up
It was the summer of 1992, in Barcelona, and the Olympics 400m semi-final race was about to start. Derek Redmond was at the starting line, fully confident, as one of the favourites for gold. And he was entitled to feel that way. Seven years before, in 1985, he broke the British record for the 400m race. In 1986, he was already seen as a rising star, having won the 4×400 metres relay gold medal at both the European Championships and Commonwealth Games. And the awards kept on coming. But nothing comes without a price. His career was interrupted several times because of injuries. In fact, before the 1992 Summer Olympics, he had undergone eight surgeries. His mental strength and perseverance brought him back on the race track every single time.
In Barcelona, he was at the peak of his career. When the race started, he sprinted forward, focused on getting the gold. Then something unforeseen happened: he tore his hamstring, mid-track. He fell to the ground, in agony, but after a short moment of despair, something unbelievable happened. He got up and struggled through to finish the race, with the help of his father. It was an incredible scene that made headlines, summing up the power of the human spirit. The injury turned out to be much worse than anyone expected. After seven interventions over the course of two years, Derek was forced to retire from his career as a professional athlete. Yet, he continued to excel and went on to play basketball for England. Derek Redmond now continues to inspire people around the world. He is an acclaimed motivational speaker and trainer who uses his experience in sports to encourage others to achieve greatness in whatever they do.
From Disability to Olympic Glory
Wilma Rudolph is an absolute proof that nothing is impossible. Born prematurely, in a family of 21 children, with little to no resources to sustain a professional sports career, Wilma had to face even bigger challenges when she was stricken with polio. Not to mention this was the 1950s, which made things even more complicated. But she had a fire burning inside her, an unstoppable strength that nothing, not even polio or social barriers, could ever stop her.
By the time she was 12, she had overcome polio, started to walk again, to her doctor’s’ surprise, and took up athletics. Eight years later she was already an Olympic champion. Wilma defied all odds and won three gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Rome, in 1960. She retired shortly afterwards, in 1962, and then devoted the rest of her life to coaching underprivileged children.
The Power to overcome Pain
Until 1996, the United States had never won a gold medal in Women’s Gymnastics. Hence, there was a lot of pressure, hopes, and support for Kerri Strug and her team, which the press called “The Magnificent Seven”. In an unexpected turn, things weren’t looking too hot after U.S. gymnast Dominique Moceanu fell in both of her events, leaving Kerri Strug as the only answer to finish things off for the gold. And things actually got worse when Strug also fell on her first vault and somehow messed up her ankle in the process. But like the plot to good and predictable sports movie, the U.S. somehow pulled it together and beat everyone. Strug went on to the second attempt at the vault, sticking it perfectly on one ankle, only to fall to her knees in agony once it was all over. It was a heart-stopping moment that landed Kerri on the front page of newspapers around the world and catapulted her into the spotlight. She won the US the first gold medal. Kerri Strug’s heroic performance has made history. How is it possible to run and vault again perfectly with a broken ankle? Almost 2 decades later, Kerri talks about that moment and what mental strength you need to accomplish greatness.
You too can develop mental toughness
Mental toughness is an abstract quality, but in the real world it’s tied to concrete actions. You can’t magically think your way to becoming mentally tough, you prove it to yourself by doing something in real life. It’s about training yourself to deliver consistently, being disciplined, going the extra mile, being accountable and above all, engaging in spiritual disciplines that strengthen your inner man. You can’t become committed or consistent with a weak mind. Mental toughness is like a muscle. It needs to be worked to grow and develop. If you haven’t pushed yourself in thousands of small ways, of course you’ll wilt when things get really difficult. Mental toughness is built through small wins. It’s the individual choices that we make on a daily basis that build our “mental toughness muscle.”
Cynthia Chirinda Hakutangwi is an Organisational and Personal Development Consultant, a Life Coach, Author, and Strategist. Her latest book, “The Connection Factor: Unlocking your Individual potential through your Connections,” provides some relational nuggets to individuals who seek to establish meaningful, relevant and fulfilling relationships that can unlock their potential. Looking at improving your career, personal effectiveness, communication skills, relationships, focus, faith and happiness? Wholeness Incorporated Coaching offers you strategies you can implement today to achieve your goals. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. LinkedIn: Cynthia Chirinda Hakutangwi. Mobile: 263 717 013 206
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