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What feeds your soul? What lights up your life? Why do we sometimes pull away from that which strengthens us, believing we should be able to strengthen even more on our own? My “failure” at the 2000 Olympic trials devastated me. The gift however is that what rose from the ashes of my defeat were some of the most powerful realizations of my life. An understanding of how I was sabotaging my efforts to succeed. Through my pain, I shed all previous beliefs of what it would take to achieve my ultimate goal. I clothed myself with a new focus, a new perspective that emboldened me. It liberated me by allowing me to pursue my dream authentically!!! In a way that fed my soul and allowed me to celebrate each day as an opportunity to show my thanks through my work rather than forcing my way through. Flow not force. I know this is longer than my usual BHC but I encourage you to hear me out. Once you do, ask yourself? Have I been going about my goals in a way that is serving me? Is there a different perspective I could have that would allow me to thrive, not just survive? Am I preparing for the wins and the losses? The ease and the pain? Do I have faith that no matter what comes my way, I will be okay? I will have an answer. I will rose from the ashes. I will fall but get up, dust myself off and know that In falling, I will rise with more experience, more knowledge and a better understanding of what is needed next. What an beautiful gift this life is. Instead of focusing on what didn’t happen, focus on what has happened to be where you are today! Have you achieved things that were only a dream years ago? AppreciAte your journey and allow it to fill you with confidence, purpose and gratitude!
Welcome to the Bed Head Chronicles.
I want to look back to the year 2000. I was a pro triathlete and I wanted to make the Olympic Games in Sydney.
Now, for some reason, I thought I needed to move out to Australia and live this solitary life where I could find this deep, incredible strength that I didn’t think I already had. I thought that the only way I could find that is if I go off on my own, and I train alone, and I eat alone, and I live alone, and all that I’m focusing on is becoming better, getting stronger, getting fitter, getting faster and getting tougher.
It was, I think, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life because I am — my nature is love. I love being surrounded by my family, by my animals, by my friends and having these people around me fill my soul with joy and energy, and being able to share in every experience of life — the wonderful experiences, the tough experiences and just every moment of peace. Just enjoying the solitude with one another.
So, I went off and I did this.
There are a few lessons here because another thing I did is every single night I visualized the perfect race. From start to finish. Everything going absolutely perfect with me crossing the line, arms in the air, winning the race and qualifying for the Olympics.
Now, the problem with that is on race day, I’m at the Olympic trials. The gun goes off. I dive into the water. Within the first 20 seconds, I get dunked into the water, I get kicked in the face and I lose the front pack.
I had not visualized this.
I absolutely had not even thought to think about what happens when I lose the pack? How am I going to respond?
So, the biggest lesson is for all of you, just as a side note is visualization is a very powerful practice. But when you visualize, you also have to see things going wrong and see yourself handling these problems, these issues or these bad moments with grace, with calm, with intelligence, overcoming whatever the problem is, and then succeeding in the end.
I didn’t know that at this point in time.
Anyhow, I lost the front pack. I felt like I was swimming harder than I’ve ever swam in my life. I felt like I was biking harder than I ever had. And I was going backward. I was being passed by everyone.
I choked. I absolutely choked at the Olympic trials.
I’ll never forget there were so many people after the race, because at the time, I think, I was the second-ranked American, they were all like, “What happened? Are you sick? Did you have a flat tire? Like, what happened?”
At that moment I thought to myself, this will be a defining moment. If I make up an excuse, that’s going to cut off my entire capacity to grow from this. To learn from this. And most importantly, I’m going to lose a lot of respect for myself.
But if I own it…if I can own what happened, I am not only going to learn from this and maintain respect for myself, but that truly does open up any ceilings that I have over my head. It allows me to know now what I need to work on, what I need to avoid, and that’s going to make me better.
So, I owned it.
The first person that came up and asked me what happened, I said “I choked. I absolutely choked.”
What that led to ultimately is a lot of really deep realizations that changed the whole trajectory of my life. One of those was my strength, my energy. What makes me and helps me be my very best is being in an environment that fills my soul and nourishes my spirit — and that is in an environment of love. Having my pets show me unconditional love and think I’m the greatest thing on the planet. At the time, I didn’t have my wife, Bek. But my mom — having her encouragement and support and her creative ideas on how to help my experience be that much more successful. Having my friends that gave me more laughs and make it more fun.
All these things were things that I needed to feel complete. Thus, being able to tap into all my strength and bring that into this mission that I was on to become the best in the world in this sport.
So, that was a huge realization.
Another realization about what I’d been focusing on. I had been focusing on making the Olympics. That was everything. That was a life or death — the Olympics was all I cared about. Or making a paycheck. Or making the team. All these things that were such high-pressure goals weren’t fueling me. When I thought about it, it had been six years since I started this sport, when I was 23 years old. Only six years. And I was 23 years old when I started and I didn’t know how to swim.
So, six years from that point, not only had I learned to swim, but I got myself to the level where I’m racing professionally. And I’ve got the opportunity to make the Olympic team. I ended up being an alternate. But I started thinking “Wow! I have come so far! This isn’t a failure. This is a complete victory. My God!”
I suddenly saw it as something to be so grateful for. I started looking at what didn’t happen — that I didn’t officially make the Olympic team that day. I looked at it as, I, not only learned how to swim but now I’m racing against former Olympic swimmers. I’m racing at the highest level of this sport.
I started feeling so grateful. I thought to myself, “how can I show God or the universe” — whatever you believe in — that doesn’t matter. You can put this into your story. But, to me, I was like, “how do I show God how grateful I am for the gift of my strong mind and relentlessness and my determination and grit? How grateful am I how every time I fail, I dust myself up and I get back up again? How grateful am I for all the people that helped me get to this point, here — my coaches, my massage therapists, my mom, my friends, my pets — my dog was my running partner. There was so much to be grateful for.”
Suddenly my whole focus became — I thought that the best way I can show my gratitude — the best way I can show my thanks for all these incredible gifts is to get out there and use every single one of them to the utmost.
When I race, I’m going to lay everything I have inside of me out there on the race course. That is my way of saying “Thank you, God. I see and I appreciate. I am so grateful, and I will use these gifts to the absolute fullest to show you my thanks. ”
These incredible things came from that failure. In my mind, it was a devastating failure at that time. But I would not change a thing. It led to some of the most powerful realizations in my life. Embracing the power of your team and your support system, and allowing yourself to put yourself in proximity to the people that fill your soul with joy and love and energy. And also make sure that whatever you’re going after is fueled by something deeper than just a monetary goal or a goal of having a certain title. Make sure that your purpose, your why, your inspiration, your fuel is something way deeper than that. Something that not only serves you but something that serves all those around you.
You are an example. You’re an inspiration. You are a gift.
Celebrate this life. Be all that you are. Embrace every moment — the good, the bad — every single moment is what makes you YOU. And you are absolutely perfect just the way that you are.
For more tips and advice about living an authentic life go to https://www.sirilindley.com/authentic/