Confidence
Nikki Stone

  

After a year of dealing with my injury, I was back on the slopes in time for the 1997 World Championships in Nagano, Japan, site of the following year's Winter Olympic Games.  I couldn't wait to show the world that Nikki Stone was back.  What I didn't realize was that the world hadn't waited while Nikki Stone was recuperating.

Competing with the same jumps I had perfected before my injury, I found that many of my fellow athletes had increased their degree of difficulty and were performing more advanced jumps.  Even if I executed my maneuvers perfectly, it would still be a long shot for me to make it to the podium.  I ended the World Championship finals in eleventh place.

Now, I'm not stupid.  I knew eleventh place was a long way from where I needed to be in order to stand atop that dreamed-of podium.

Rubbing salt in my wounds, a sports journalist wrote, "Nikki Stone will never stand on the podium again."  Ouch!  I had two options:  feel sorry for myself and fall victim to what the reporter had to say.  Or prove him wrong by sticking my neck out and believing in myself.

I decided to take that second option and prove that journalist wrong.  I was going to build my confidence to do some of those more difficult jumps so that he would have to eat his words.  No one was going to count me out.

Coming back from such a severe injury, I had a big task in front of me.  I was trying to instill confidence in myself at a time when I was just rebounding from my lowest low.  I had to remember that I was actually jumping again when ten doctors had told me it wouldn't be possible.  That alone was something to be proud of.

But I did know that, to accomplish my goals, I needed to step up my game.  Doing harder jumps was going to prove to be just as big a challenge since I was so afraid of heights.  Double flips require you to jump thirty feet high.  To do triple flips, I would have to launch myself fifty feet in the air--the height of a five-story building.  I felt queasy looking down from such a height.  How was I going to tackle this timidity?  I had to concentrate on my successful acrobatic and landing abilities, and try to ignore my fear of heights.

As I continued preparing for the Olympics, I realized the jumps weren't the only thing I needed to change.  My practice had to be much different than it was four years earlier.  I knew it was important to keep my peripheral vision on the competition, but if I was only worrying about their training, I wouldn't be focusing enough on my own practice.  If I was in a sprinting race and turned around to see what the other runners were doing, they would blow by me.  I had to keep looking forward and worry about my own progress, pushing full steam ahead.

Finding my strengths and determining my most appropriate preparations gave me the confidence I needed.  And my confidence gave me a shot at proving that journalist wrong.

Confidence is not something we are born with.  It's something we develop.  We all have the ability to develop confidence.  We have to be willing to stick our necks out, knowing that we may feel a bit uncomfortable at first.  But it will pay off.

As Peter T. Mcintyre said, "Confidence comes not from always being right, but from not fearing to be wrong."
   


   

Did you know you have better odds at winning the lottery than an Olympic medal?  To bring home one of those coveted medals—or achieve any great personal goal in life—you need a lot more than luck.  You need a game plan.  What if you could learn the secrets of success from an Olympian?  A Nobel Prize winner?  A Fortune 500 CEO?  Along with anecdotes from her own dramatic journey, Olympic gold medalist Nikki Stone has compiled a treasure trove of compelling stories to illustrate each step on the path to success.  She’s gathered humorous, heartwarming and hugely inspirational tales from some of today’s most brilliant business leaders, scientists, soldiers, inventors, philanthropists, musicians, athletes and entrepreneurs…a host of people whose very names epitomize achievement. 

 
  
    


 
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