“Be strong and courageous, and do it.”
- King David
Many of us have grown up with the belief that if we work hard and persevere, we will be able to achieve our dreams. This belief is at the crux of the American Dream. We are taught that nothing can stop us if we try our best. We can come from any situation or station in life and rise to the top.
I agree that hard work matters and that much of what we achieve is directly connected to the amount of effort that we put forth. However, many of us are misled to believe that accomplishing our goals, whatever they are, will solve all of our problems. As we strive toward our goals, we should ask ourselves what we expect for the tone and course of our life thereafter. What does our version of achievement and success look like in real time? What can we expect during the ins and outs of our days? When we say we want to accomplish our dreams, what are we expecting that to look like? Do we believe that success will silence all the “haters”? Are we expecting life on “easy street”? Do we expect that moving forward we will not have any problems, worries or stress?
Simone Biles is an individual who we can all likely agree has accomplished, or is on the road to accomplishing, her life’s goals and dreams. To date, she is the most decorated and dominant gymnast in the world. She has earned a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals and is expected to add to her collection at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. She is considered by many the G.O.A.T. (the greatest of all time).
But what does being the G.O.A.T. look like? Of course, Ms. Biles enjoys fame, worldwide adoration, notoriety, respect among her peers and wealth, but has her G.O.A.T. status insulated her from pain, negativity, hatred or difficult times? Absolutely not. In fact, Ms. Biles has been open about her struggles with people speaking negatively about her appearance, questioning her merit and launching attacks to undermine her achievements. Indeed, it seems that her talent has not insulated her from this negativity. To the contrary, it has attracted it.
When Ms. Biles made the decision to pursue elite gymnastics, she likely thought her toughest hurdles would be related to athletic performance and competition. Now that she is at the most elite level, she’s encountering other challenges that are seemingly unrelated to her performance.
However, I posit that the negative behavior is related to her performance. Ms. Biles’ excellence is triggering resentment and feelings of inadequacy and insecurity in others such that they have decided to attack the person who is achieving what they wish they could.
Stellar performance does not warrant negative treatment, however, it certainly attracts it.
When direct campaigns of negativity rear their ugly heads while or soon after you’ve accomplished something great, and you have evaluated your conduct, searched your heart and can honestly say that there is nothing that you have done to warrant the behavior, exhale and know that this does not mean that you are doing anything wrong. In fact, you’re clearly doing a lot right.
When things get tough while you are in the midst of accomplishing your goals or when you feel as if you are being attacked after earning an achievement, take heart and remember that it comes with the territory of being great.
Success might not look and feel as you anticipated, but don’t shy away from it when it becomes hard. Be strong, be courageous and continue to do the work to remain great.