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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 August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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