I wouldn’t say she was a ‘household name’ a week ago, but she probably should have been. As America’s most decorated gymnast and perhaps the greatest of all time, Simone Biles is truly incredible.
But her strength, courage and resilience extend far beyond the gymnastic arena, and we saw a glimpse of that this week.
When Simone gracefully bowed out of the Tokyo Olympics she sent an important message to the world. A message that many other athletes before her no doubt wish they dared to say and a message that many future athletes will one day thank her for.
Simone has very powerfully let the world know that she is more than just a talented gymnast here for our pleasure and enjoyment.
Simone is a young woman who has gone through more pain, suffering, judgement and criticism than many of us will ever endure. Yet, until now, she has continued to step out onto the world stage, with her facade of strength and joy, because she didn’t want to let anyone else down.
So, as we sit at home admiring, gasping and even criticising the world’s greatest athletes, it’s time we take a moment to stop and look beyond the facades. It’s time to consider the bigger picture lessons these athletes and the events of the Tokyo Olympics have to teach our children.
When I sit down to watch the Olympics with my children this weekend, I will be diving into the deeper lessons we can all learn from such a powerful global event. I will be looking past the standard message of ‘hard work’ and instead, I will have these 7 conversations with my kids:
- Winning is not always about having a medal around your neck. Winning comes in many shapes and sizes, and Simone has shown us that standing on a podium is not the only determining factor of a ‘winner’. Winning might look like standing up for yourself, achieving a personal goal, overcoming a fear or simply doing something you truly believe in regardless of the outcome.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. Everyone needs a support team to achieve their goals. It is okay to seek help and it is okay not to have all the answers on your own. Everyone is still learning and everyone has something to teach. I will share the message with my children that a family is a team. In our family, we support each other, provide a safe space to make mistakes and ask for help.
- The power of delayed gratification. Success doesn’t come instantly. Some days it can feel as though we are failing and the pull to quit can be intense, but those who achieve the greatest success are those with the greatest strength to push through, and the patience to wait for the results. When things get tough, we can think of our athletes. We can remind ourselves that they fought through setbacks and challenges over many years to finally receive their gratifying moment.
- Sportsmanship and kindness are more respected than winning. It doesn’t matter how disappointed, angry or ‘ripped off’ you feel about the result, the way you conduct yourself before, during and after the event say more about you as a person than any other moment. We conduct ourselves with grace and courage and show kindness and respect to all of humanity.
- Uniqueness is our superpower. We each have our strengths, weaknesses, passions and interests. A person who excels in one field may not be the right fit in another field. This is what makes the world an amazing place. Instead of feeling deflated about not being ‘the best’ at something, keep searching, learning and exploring to find your thing. There is something out there for everyone and you WILL find it — if you don’t give up.
- We are all human and we are all equal. Regardless of race, creed or religion, we are all people with passions, hopes, dreams and incredible messages to send to the world. Be open to learning from others because cultural diversity is an amazing thing. We embrace our difference and celebrate together because in the end we all have a beating heart and we all bleed red. We are all equal.
- Living a healthy lifestyle is not just about the food we consume and the exercise we do. The way we care for our mind and prioritise our mental health is just as important. As Simone has so graciously shown the world, without mental strength, we have nothing. At just 24, Simone has stood up and taught the world that it is essential to prioritise mental health and it is okay to ask for help.
As a Mindset Focused Parenting Coach, I am not going to sit here and tell you that hard work, effort, determination, focus and commitment don’t matter, but sometimes we have to stop and consider the bigger picture for a moment.
That’s exactly what Simone has done. I applaud her and thank her for her courage. I know that each of these 7 bigger picture lessons will make our children stronger.
Follow me on Instagram for more Mindset Focused Parenting — @mindtraction_themindsetmama.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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