Simply put, passion is the engine that drives excellence. It is what motivates us to continue pursuing our dreams when times get tough, when we get tired, or when others tell us we can't possibly succeed.
Always in the back of my mind were the personal and financial sacrifices my parents were making on my behalf so I knew I would have to make a decision soon enough. I ended up making an imperfect decision based on fear. I was afraid to fall.
It was always the memory of those athletes that helped me persevere through hard times and push past insurmountable obstacles -- and believe me, there were many. And ten years later, I was walking into my own Olympic Opening Ceremonies.
I continue to be inspired by those who venture into the unknown, fight back against their fears, and don't spend an ounce of thought on how someone else might be judging them. Whether you know it or not, these heroes are all around us.
If you believe we all have the ability, given the right conditions, to have an extraordinary life -- whether it is as an Olympic athlete, scientist or teacher -- what can we learn from Olympic athletes to turn our dreams into reality?
I applaud the Ryan Lochtes, Justin Gatlins and Lolo Joneses for never giving up. I congratulate their parents for letting them believe these Olympic "pipe dreams" are possible. And I thank all the critics for unknowingly pushing these athletes to prove you wrong.
Roaming the halls of Columbia University, I don't think about the B.A. that hopefully will be mine after 40 gap years. I think with excitement about my Fall classes and wonder what the reading will be, if the teacher will be older than me (whoops) and whether the final will be a take-home.
We tend to think mistakes get in the way of progress or, worse, mean failure. With small tasks, that's likely. But when it comes to thinking big and achieving something over time, error is an important part of the process.
Whether I was feeling sick, the site wasn't up to par, I didn't have enough sleep or there was poor weather, I still had to imagine it was the day of the big event. I had to prepare for the unexpected.
Up until a month ago, my longest run had been somewhere around three miles. I ran for no reason but to exercise. I always had a point A and a point B that were close enough to just keep me in shape, but were never that much of a struggle.
A personal master plan is much more than investment counseling or life insurance. It anticipates success rather than loss and plans for continued growth -- growth in skills necessary for prosperity and growth in realizing your own full potential.