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The Stories Of These 5 Athletes Will Motivate Everyone Of You

The Stories Of These 5 Athletes Will Motivate Everyone Of You

Just think of a few of the challenges athletes face. They may have to cope with exhausting training schedules, lost matches, injuries, missed milestones, heartbreaking failures, and personal adversity. If they are female they may have to face health problems related to irregular eating habits and menstruation which in turn can aggravate bone loss. Here are stories of 5 athletes who faced enormous challenges and refused to be beaten. If these stories fail to motivate you, then I do not know what will!

1. Kieran Behan, gymnast.

Imagine being told that you will never walk again! That was what doctors told Kieran after they removed a cancerous tumor from his thigh at the age of 10. The operation went badly, so badly in fact, that he woke up screaming in pain from massive nerve damage. Up to then, he had been crazy about gymnastics and was determined to become an Olympic champion. But how could he do that when he could not even walk now and was confined to a wheelchair?

Kieran was going to show them and he started on the long road to recovery. He was 15 months in a wheelchair but he persevered and was back in the gym. But within a few a months he slipped from the high bar and sustained a terrible head injury. He was so badly injured that frequent blackouts happened when he literally blinked. He missed a whole year at school but the gym was beckoning again. This time though, he had to overcome the challenges of that awful injury. He had to retrain his brain and get back his co-ordination. He returned to school using a walking stick and was cruelly taunted by his classmates.

It then took him three years to get back to where he had been before the awful accident. But he suffered several fractures. Then another blow came when his knee snapped just after he had been selected for the European Championships. Behan has said that was when he was about to give up.

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But he never gave up and succeeded in becoming the Challenge World Cup floor champion.in 2011, and his greatest moment of glory was when he qualified for the London 2012 Olympics. He had become an Olympic athlete after being through terrible pain, trauma and setbacks. A glorious example of the Olympic spirit.

2. Michael Jordan, basketball player.

“When you’re in a rhythm during the season, you’re going to fail seven out of 10 times,”- Mark Texeira, Yankees

Michael Jordan has been praised to the skies and is often referred to as the best basketball player of all time. He attributes his success to his many failures because he has claimed they made him try even harder. They certainly did not discourage him. When he was very young, he was not even thought to have a great talent. He was cut from the high school basketball team. He has actually counted his failures and they include 300 lost games and he has missed taking the game winning shot 26 times. Most champions are discouraged and unmotivated by failures but Michael Jordan had the right attitude and regarded them as the recipe for his success.

“I know that fear is an obstacle for some people, but for me it is just an illusion….. Failure always makes me try harder on the next opportunity.”- Michael Jordan.

3. Bethany Hamilton, surfer.

Bethany Hamilton grew up in Hawaii so it is not surprising to learn that by the age of 7, she was already able to surf waves. In 2003, a terrible tragedy struck when a shark bit off her left arm. As she recovered, she made two promises to herself. The first was that she would not moan about her terrible misfortune and the second was that she would get back on the surfboard. Another person would have been resigned to failure. But not Bethany Hamilton. After only 26 days, she was surfing again! She is now ranked as among the top 50 female surfers in the world. She also won first prize in the Explorer Women’s Division of the NSSA National Championships.

She overcame many obstacles before becoming successful as a one armed surfer. She had moments of sheer frustration when adjusting to her disability. The accident was instrumental in helping her overcome difficult moments but above all taught her how to defeat her fear in scary moments. She has dedicated much of her life to being a role model for young amputees. She has become an inspiration for many girls going through amputation and adolescence through her Friends of Bethany charity. AnnaSofia Robb and Dennis Quaid have starred in the film Soul Surfer (2011) which was inspired by Bethany’s amazing story.

4. Muhammad Ali, boxer.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali

Regarded as the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali won many wards such as the Golden Glove and an Olympic Gold medal at the 1960 games in Rome. He has inspired many people by his career and his way of life. After retiring from the ring, he devoted his life to philanthropy and charities, especially those connected with Parkinson’s disease from which he suffered. Muhammad Ali was no stranger to risk. From the early age of 12 when someone stole his bike, he was determined to take on any future thieves, so he learned how to fight.

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Many athletes go through a very difficult process of coping with perfectionism and their fear of failure. This often prevents them from reaching their full potential. Anything less than perfection and winning is counted as failure. What athletes do not want to happen often does because they are haunted by fear of making mistakes. This mindset results in more tension, indecision and being too careful. Muhammad Ali was a superb example of taking calculated risks and has remained an inspiration for many generations.

5. Michael Phelps, swimmer.

Michael Phelps is considered the greatest Olympian swimmer of all time. Everyone thought that no swimmer would be able to win 8 gold medals in just one Olympic Games. Michael did just that and he has 19 Olympic medals, 15 of which are gold! The remarkable thing about him is that as a child he suffered from ADHD and was on medication for some of that time. Most people assume that people with ADHD suffer from restlessness, impulsiveness and a very short attention span. But they also have an incredible capacity to remain hyperfocused on an activity they are passionate about. Michael has been able to use this with enormous success. By channelling his energy and focus, he has been able to exploit the positive side of ADHD.

Phelps has shown that he can beat the most disciplined and strongest swimmers in the world and is an inspiring example to anyone who suffers from a mental disorder or other disability. He has another secret in that he uses the power of visualizing success before he starts any swim. He started this process when he was only 7 years old. He realized there were no limits to success and once you are passionate about your objective, nothing can stop you.

“Nobody is going to put a limit on what I’m doing. I’m going to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. That is how I have always worked. If I want something I am going to go and get it.”- Michael Phelps.

If you feel exhausted or discouraged after your next marathon, just think about one of these inspiring champions before you actually give up!

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Featured photo credit: Balance (Improved? or not…)/Ricardo Liberato via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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