The Secret to Winning Gold

Last week in Rio, the gold medal in the 10,000 meter track event went to Mo Farah, a British super-runner. (He holds about a million world records). But during this one Olympic race, you might’ve thought he’d lost the gold – because he wiped out in the final loop.

But what did he do? He got up and kept running. He wasted no time being upset, or worrying, or beating himself up. He just popped up and ran straight to the finish line. And he won.

It’s so simple, but what an important lesson we can take from that. Falling isn’t the end of the race. It’s not even a guarantee that you won’t win. You can take a major wipeout, and still win an Olympic medal.

Yet how often do we mistake failure for something permanent? We “fall,” or fail, or reach a setback – and we interpret it as final. But it’s not.

Falling is difficult, especially when the stakes are high. When we fall, gremlins like to jump right in with their negative messages – “See, I told you you’re not good enough.” “Look, you just blew it.” “You might as well give up now.” (For more on the power of self-talk, check out our Moti-Minute on YouTube!)

Those messages aren’t real, but they can become self-fulfilling prophecies if we believe them. 

That is, if we let them dictate our actions, they become real. So it’s crucial that you keep a positive mindset at times like that.

Mo’s story reminds me of a former colleague of mine, a wonderful woman named Bonnie St. John who helped me out when I first started speaking. Her story also involves falling during an Olympic race, and it’s helped me see how important it is to get up fast.

It was 1984. The Winter Paralympics were in Innsbruck, and Bonnie, a slalom skier, was about to do her run. (I should mention that Bonnie’s an amputee, so she was racing on one leg.) At this point, about to ski her final race, she was in first place.

So far, all her competitors had fallen on the same, dangerous patch of snow. If she didn’t fall here, she could take the gold.

The gates opened, and she shot off down the mountain. She nailed all the turns, skiing flawlessly. But when she reached that spot, the one that tripped up all the others, she fell.

Now, just like Mo, she got up and kept going. But before she did, she paused.

At the end of the race, her time showed that she’d come in second. She won silver.

“I was beaten by a woman who got up faster than I did,” Bonnie said later. “People fall down. Winners get up, and gold medal winners just get up faster.”

The truth is, everyone falls, especially when you’re taking chances. There’s no such thing as a road to success without setbacks. But if you let them hold you back, you might lose out on your success.

Let’s practice getting up faster, right now.

Where in your life is there an area you can get up faster? Is it a big setback, like not getting that job or promotion you wanted? Or it can be a time during your day, like waking up, or starting your work more efficiently. What is it for you?

Now, let’s physicalize it.

Crouch down, hands on the floor, feet out behind you. Now, jump your feet forward, and jump up as high as you can!

For a modification, don’t jump; just stand up.

Yup, these are burpees, by the way.

As you do them (do ten – or fifteen, if you can!), visualize your own personal “get up faster” moment. See yourself overcoming that obstacle, just like Mo, and just like Bonnie.

By practicing this physically, you’re preparing yourself to get up faster in life. You’re training your nervous system to snap out of a less powerful position, into a higher place.

Remember, at any time in life, you can push farther than you think you can. You can get up faster, and win the gold.

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