In pursuit of greatness it is easy to give up on yourself. To think you are undeserving. To quit when things get hard. To take the easy path. To feel sorry for yourself. To give up when you are faced with discomfort.
These past six months I quit my corporate world job and got to live the life of an elite athlete. Here is a recap of the harshest lessons that I learned while pursuing my goals....perhaps my struggles will aid in an easier path for your trek to greatness!
The Importance of being TURNED DOWN. Rejection is painful. It makes you feel worthless, unwanted, crappy, unneeded, worthless, valueless. At international training camps you have to go up to other judo players and request for them to go with you. You set "dates" with partners to battle with for each round. If you don't do this, you will have NO partners. You will sit in a room, filled with 6 mats and hundreds of dedicated athletes- alone, cold, and not improving.
My first international training camp was in Spain... I would go up to person after person, and of course no one knew me so I got rejection after rejection. I was mentally exhausted. I wanted to just go back to my room and cry. I wanted to sit alone and feel sorry for myself for the constant rejection.
Instead, I kept asking.
"Oh we can't go round 3? How about 4? or 5? what about 6? How about this afternoon? How about tomorrow?"
"Hey World Medalist- yeah I am a no one, when are you free?"
"Oh new girl, I am a new girl - when are YOU free?"
Instead of letting the pain of rejection stop me, it empowered me. I kept at the girls that I wanted and eventually was able to train with all of them. Persistence was key. I was not going to let rejections keep me from my goals and my optimal training. I refused to sit cold and avoided on the side of the mat. I refused to feel sorry for myself.
I refused to let others keep me from getting my goals achieved.
Others would not stop my work or keep me from my goals.
The people in the world that have the best luck are the ones that are turned down a million times.
The men who get the most dates, ask out the most women. The people with the best jobs - had been rejected over and over again for similar positions until they landed that role. And the best athletes at camps, were at one time, the new person at camp that got rejected.
I left camp braver, more self assured, and with a body covered in bruised proof that I found partners every round. (And encouragingly by my third camp I was entering practices with partners already lined up...and Olympians asking to go with me!)
The Importance of RED belt rounds (going after it). In Japan many of the practices I attended consisted of a handful of players being given red belts. They were deemed the fighters for the next 20 minutes. If you were not given a red belt you had to go up to a player with a red belt and request to go with them. Simple. Right?
The issue was this - 4 people have red belts. 20 people do not. If you want to get in ANY practice that day, if you want to better yourself, you have to be the FIRST person out there (beating the other 19)- requesting a turn.
This was a huge challenge for me. It was unnatural for me. I felt rude pushing in front of others, I was worried I'd run out and the red belt would say no thanks, and I was overwhelmed with introverted paralyzing fear.
As I stood on the side of the mat, missing opportunities to train, I realized that I needed to be bold. I needed to put my needs first. I needed to not fear being turned down, pushing someone out of the way, or being seen as too aggressive. If I wanted to have a partner-if I wanted to get better, I had to go out after them. I had to see who I wanted and run for them before anyone else. I had to be ok with being turned down by one red belt and immediately run to the next.
Eventually I wasn't happy with settling for a red belt whenever I could get one. I wanted these players during their first round. When they were fresh, not tired, and at their strongest. I would plan out the best place to stand to ensure I got to them first. I would bolt towards them or try to pre-plan with them to ensure I was their partner first.
I went from hesitant & nervous, to one of the most aggressive non-red-belts at the training sessions. I refused to let my anxiety and personality characteristics keep me from better myself and getting the most out of my practices.
If your goals are out there - and others are lined up for the same thing - get selfish. Get aggressive. Put together an action plan to be the first out there. Be ruthless.
Training internationally in red belt rounds and at Olympic Camps taught me the importance of ignoring my timid introversion in order to reach my goals and improve myself. If you have goals you have to GO AFTER THEM.
It is scary. It may be uncomfortable. You will have rejections. You will face obstacles. People will avoid you. But to be successful, this is what I learned:
Whether its a mentor, job, or even a date - if there is something you want, go out after it.
But go for it anyway.
Believer that everyone is special.