Getting knocked down vs. Getting knocked out

Focus on your abilities, not your disabilities

Several years ago, I had the privilege of serving as a coach for the Special Olympics. One of the extraordinary athletes I worked with was a young woman named Emily, who had a sparkling smile and an intense focus during practice.

When we first met, Emily understandably seemed preoccupied by my hands. She would look at her 10 digits, and then glance at my three digits. She thought, “This dude needs a little encouragement.”

Emily said to me, with tremendous empathy, “Roger, I also have a handicap…” I thought she was referring to the fact she had Down syndrome, but I was mistaken.

She said, “You see, Roger, I had my appendix out last year!” Emily’s remarkable perspective is one from which we can all learn and be inspired. She was truly confident and empowered by her athletic accomplishments, and was focused on her abilities, not disabilities.

You won’t get knocked out if you have others who lift you up along the way

During one of the Special Olympics events, I witnessed something that I recorded on my mental DVR, so that I could savor this memory repeatedly. The athletes prepared to run a relay race and knelt down into their starting blocks. The starter’s gun sounded, and they were off!

The runners were giving it their all as they rounded the first turn. But then one of the athletes stumbled and fell onto the track. The other runners quickly passed by the fallen athlete, but a few strides they all stopped. I watched those Special Olympians turn and run back to help their fellow athlete back to his feet and then begin to run again.

This was a powerful reminder to me that anything that is considered an exceptional achievement is ultimately a result of a team effort. No one does it alone!

We tend to overemphasize individual achievement and forget the people who contributed to our success. With a collaborative effort, teams make possible what individuals find impossible.

Discover your courage through others

The root of the word courage and encourage comes from the Latin word cor, which means heart. If we are going to have the courage to accomplish something exceptional, we will need support and encouragement from others.

Our determination will always start out strong, and we will feel like “We’ve got this!” Then we slowly start allowing our disappointments to start chipping away at our drive. When this happens, we all need someone telling us, “You can do it!” or “I believe in you!”

Encouragement from others improves our performance, sustains motivation, and increases successful results.

As you establish exceptional goals in the future, remember, no one does it alone! Even the Lone Ranger needed Tonto!

Discover your courage within yourself and get back up

While there are many cases of extraordinary courage, the ordinary courage that you demonstrate every day should not be disregarded. This type of courage shows the incredible resilience and strength you have within you to bounce back after being knocked down.

We are all courageous in our own way. Think about it — admitting you made a mistake takes courage, deciding that you need help takes courage. Taking a risk, making a life change, acknowledging weaknesses, and embracing strengths all take courage.

Myth: You either have courage or you don’t. Wrong! Courage can be developed, improved, and strengthened. Like a muscle, the more you exercise courage, the stronger it becomes; the less you exercise courage, the weaker it becomes.

One of my favorite authors, Brené Brown, writes this in The Gifts of Imperfection:

“Courage is a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”

As you evaluate your courage, it is important to remember that fear and courage can exist at the same time. The essence of courage is doing something despite self-doubt and fear that you’re going to get knocked down. In this way, you’re ensuring you won’t get knocked out — where you settle for mediocrity. That does not require any strength or courage.

When you feel courageous, act now. Don’t wait. If you hesitate and start to make excuses for why you lack courage, the fear becomes scarier and bigger.

The foundation of confidence is courage

Finally, we all know that confidence is an invaluable attribute of success. Would you agree that the foundation of confidence is being courageous? We are motivated to attempt something when we’re confident of our abilities and feel certain of the outcome.

This level of confidence comes from experience and practice. The best way to build confidence is by first having the courage to try something new, stretch yourself, and take a risk. You may get knocked down temporarily, but this effort builds your capacity which increases confidence.

You have a unique combination of talents and abilities that no one else has. It takes courage to discover those gifts and share them with the world. You have that strength within you, so start today to follow your purpose and realize your potential.

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