You’ll excuse me for asking this question, but what is the most feminine of competitive sports? What’s the most lady-like of competitive sports? Now, different people have different answers. Shopping is not an answer. But I’d like to share with you that I believe the most feminine of competitive sports is figure skating. I have daughters at different times who were interested in it. You put on a leotard and you spin around and it’s graceful, it’s beautiful, it’s wonderful.
Well, here’s an interesting fact. Coaches have a criterion to determine whether a girl has what it takes to be a world champion. And what they say is that criterion is how many times is a young woman willing to fall on the ice and get back up again. You see, what happens is the first time you learn the jump, you go home and you practice it on the carpet. You jump and you spin, you jump and you spin, and if you fall no big deal, you’re on the carpet, it’s okay. And even the first time you get on the ice, the coach puts a harness on you, you jump and you spin, you jump and you spin, and if you miss, the harness catches you. But after a while the coach takes off the harness and says go out there. And the criteria that will determine whether a young woman will be a champion or not is does she have the courage to push herself, knowing full well she’ll likely fall, and fall on the ice and get back up time after time after time. That’s the criterion that determines whether she’ll be ultimately successful.
The young woman who won the 2006 Olympic gold medal in figure skating was 16 years of age, a Japanese girl. Her coach explains that she began skating at the age of five. And her coach also explains that between the age of five and the age of 16, this young athlete fell at least 20,000 times. Time after time, ten times a skating session, day after day, week after week, month after month. That is the world champion, the gold medalist.
Do you know why most people don’t make it? Because they fall down on the hard, cold ice and there’s a voice inside them that says you’re a loser, you fell again, get it straight, you’re not cut out for this stuff. You don’t have what it takes. You fell, you failed — give it up. And they hang up their skates and they quit.
But the understanding that part of success is learning how to fall, part of success is learning how to take a punch. Part of success is knowing I’m going to be knocked down, but I’m going to get back into the fight time after time after time. That’s what separates the champions from everyone else. And surely in areas of personal growth I have to be ready, I have to be willing to fall, knowing it’s part of the battle, and get back up the next day back into the fight, ready to continue. That’s one of the great principles of success in life; one of the great principles of success in personal growth.