Gabby’s Leap of Faith

After Gabby Douglas was named the Associated Press 2012 Female Athlete of the Year, I wondered what lessons of success I could glean from this pint-sized teenager.

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Delving into Gabby’s life, it quickly becomes obvious she is no normal teenager. Wise beyond her years, Gabby has already developed numerous trademarks of success which include:

  1. Vision. From the time she was 8 years old, she kept that dream of becoming an Olympic champion in the forefront of her mind.
  2. The ability to live outside her comfort zone. Barely a teenager, she moved away from her family and friends in Virginia Beach to live with a host family in Iowa and train with elite coach, Liang Chow.
  3. Mental toughness and determination. She had a spirit of perseverance even when her emotions were telling her it was too hard and that there were too many challenges ahead. She battled through wanting to quit gymnastics and had the strength to fight off pains of homesickness.
  4. The ability to bounce back after disappointment.  Through the injuries, the falls and setbacks, and the lack of winning, she learned valuable lessons about herself and developed an ability to take each adversity in stride and build upon it.
  5. A positive attitude. With the ups and downs of rigorous training, her positive attitude kept brushing away the cobwebs of self-doubt and insecurities that tried to weave their way into her psyche.
  6. A strong family bond.  She continued to receive encouragement from her mother, sisters, and brother albeit from a distance.  She credits her brother with reminding her “In order to be the best, you have to take out the best.”
  7. The belief that God has a plan. Gabby’s mother instilled in her a strong faith in God and sent her encouraging Bible verses and sayings to keep her trusting God no matter what happens. During the Olympics, you could see Gabby mouthing words to herself before each routine. She told reporters later that she was repeating those positive, faith-filled Bible verses as her prayers back to God.

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Gabby recounts her childhood and athletic triumph in her new memoir, Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith.  She wanted to write her autobiography to encourage others not to give up. Sacrifices will pay off even when times appear toughest. Her philosophy is if you don’t push through you’ll always have regrets and one day wonder “what if…”

“I went through hardships, struggles, homelessness, and blood disease…, and I still accomplished my goals. Know that no matter how much money you have, no matter what the color of your skin is, that you still can push 100 percent…don’t ever give up.”

After winning the Olympic gold medal in the Women’s Gymnastics Individual All-Around competition and being the first African-American gymnast to do so, a reporter asked Gabby what it was like to win. She said, “I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.

And to that I say… Amen!

 

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