The world is abuzz about the 2012 Summer Olympics and this beautiful 16-year old who has made history. Gabrielle Douglas is the first African-American and first woman of color in the history of the Olympics to achieve several honors. She became an all-around champion; she became the first American gymnast to win a gold medal in the individual all-around competition and the first American gymnast to win the gold in the team competition- at the same Olympics!! The fact that she has accomplished so much at a young age is fascinating to me. I began to compare the “16-year old Ericka” to the “16-year old Gabby” and there is one distinct thing that stands out in my mind. Gabby had a plan at the age of 12 and achieved her goals in 4 years; I didn’t have a plan when I was her age and consequently, my career aspirations were delayed. Although I didn’t have a plan during my teenage years, I am finding that Gabby and I have a few things in common during this particular stage of our lives:
- 1. Hard work- I’ve always been a hard worker. As a result of these efforts, I’ve been able to not only perform, but to also excel in various roles within several organizations. When I think about going for the gold and what Gabby is showing us, I am reminded that planning and working hard are complimentary. It is impossible for me to achieve the extraordinary goals that I have without a plan and without consistent, disciplined effort.
- 2. A Strong Coach- Gabby watched the 2008 Olympics and recognized that in order for her to gain the gold; she needed the same coach who developed the gymnasts in the 2008 Olympics. Successful people apply the same principles, regardless of the arena in which they compete. I, like Gabby have people around me who can develop me, train me and provide me with valuable feedback that will ultimately help me reach the next level in my career.
- 3. Determined-Gabby wanted the gold; not the silver medal or the bronze one. She decided what she wanted, which was nothing short of the best and didn’t wait for others to make her dream a reality. I’m more focused at this point in my life than I’ve ever been before and failure, simply put, isn’t an option.
Thanks to Gabby’s example, I can no longer look at young adults and accept their excuses. Even for myself, I can no longer look in the mirror and justify why I haven’t accomplished my goals. I have to ask myself on a daily basis, in my career and in other aspects of my life, “Are you going for the gold?” If the answer is no, I need to discover what it takes to make the answer a resounding yes and then set my sights on nothing less than..obtaining the gold!