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CHAPTER ONE
WHY YOU AREN'T A WINNER—YET

Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don't do things right once in a while.. ou do them right all the time. —VINCE LOMBARDI

I have some bad news for you. You were not born a winner. You may have been told, somewhere along the way, that you were. Maybe your parents said you were "number one," no matter what you did. Or maybe a high school coach said all you needed to do to get the trophy was show up in the uniform and play a few innings. But those empty promises may have robbed you of your most victorious moments. They may have stolen the best you have to offer to yourself and to the world.

I was not born a winner, and neither were you. That might seem like a harsh thing to say, but it is actually the kindest, most important gift I can give you. Winning is not about getting an award or a medal or making a certain amount of money. Winning is about accessing all of your innate human potential. You cannot be born a winner. But you can become one.

What a tragedy that so many of us don't.

There might be a part of you that resists this, that wants to fight to keep the "winning" status you feel you've earned but haven't worked to achieve. And then there is another part of you, I'm convinced, that is whispering to you right now that you have so much untapped potential, skill and tenacity and talent that the world has yet to see. What will it take for you to unlock the champion trapped inside of you?

What will it take for you to choose to finish first?


MY UNIMPRESSIVE BEGINNINGS

I wish you could have seen me at the beginning of my figure skating career. If you had been there, watching like a fly on the wall, you wouldn't have seen the person I am today. You would have seen someone else entirely. You would have seen a version of me that was more familiar with losing than he was with winning, who was terrified to make the sacrifices he knew it would take to become a winner, and who wondered if any of the work was even worth it. Winning has changed everything for me. It can change everything for you, too.

In the world of figure skating, I tell people that if you're a woman and you win, you're really good. If you're a man and you don't medal, you should probably think about doing something else. Still, for some reason, I kept skating even when I continually found myself in last place. That is a decision I will never fully understand, and yet I'm grateful I made it. Despite all the losing I endured, I knew there was a champion inside me yet to be revealed.

My first year at the Novice level—the lowest level for men's competitive figure skating to qualify for the US National Championships—I didn't even make it to the National Championships, let alone win a medal. My parents were always supportive and made continual sacrifices to keep me skating, without any expectation for success. But I realized at one point that if I was going to find my way to the winner's circle, I would have to take a different approach.

When I was thirteen years old, my parents decided to move me to a new training facility as a last-ditch effort to see if something would "click" for me there.

Wagon Wheel had a long track record of success. The facility wasn't cheap, and my parents weren't rich by any means. But they were relentlessly committed to helping me find my way in skating because they saw the health benefits it provided me in the midst of a world where the scales had been tipped against me.

I was an unwanted child, given up at birth by my biological mother and adopted at six weeks of age by my parents. I like to say that I remember it like it was yesterday. On top of that, I battled a rare and undiagnosed childhood illness that started at the age of four and came with all kinds of unpleasant symptoms. The worst of the symptoms was stunted growth, which left me shorter and smaller than all of my classmates. I remember being teased and bullied.

If you feel like you came into this life so far behind the starting line that you shouldn't even consider winning, you are not alone. Most people feel like the obstacles and challenges in their way are too big. They may even feel like they have been set up to fail before trying. We tend to become focused on what everyone else has that we don't—money, status, size, athleticism, access, relationships, and so on—and forget that the list of qualities it takes to be a winner has far more to do with what is inside of us than what is outside of us.
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