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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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