YOUR PATH TO VICTORY
When I think back on my move to Wagon Wheel, I realize that this was the first big shift for me in my competitive career and that it would never have happened if I had started out even moderately successful. If I had made it to Nationals the year that I didn't, for example, my parents never would have invested the resources for me to go to Wagon Wheel. I would have just stayed where I was. Have you ever stopped for a minute to think about how many things had to go wrong in your life for you to end up exactly where you are?
This is important because a lot of people wonder why the United States isn't as competitive in skating as it used to be. And I believe it's because we've lowered the bar as far as who goes to the National Championships. The best possible thing that could have happened to me was not making it. It changed the way I approached my skating and my commitment to get better. By allowing anyone who wants to compete to go to Nationals, we are robbing all skaters of developing that burning desire to win.
I say this to point out that no matter where you are today, this is your path to victory. It will be paved with so much disappointment, so much failure. You will question yourself and question your path. This is part of the process.
I often meet people who have lists of reasons why they will never be successful. They list their failures, their critics, and their setbacks. They talk to me about how they've wasted time. They tell me it's too late. And I tell them the same thing: The path to victory is the path you're on. It becomes a path to victory the moment you decide it does. You think that doing what it takes to win will be miserable, but the real misery comes when you lose because you weren't willing to do the simple things it takes to become a champion.
Honestly, I'm grateful for all of my losing. Without that experience, I wouldn't have any idea why it matters so much to be a winner. And I wouldn't know any of what I'm about to tell you—about how you can become the winner you wondered if it was even possible for you to be.
KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
The purpose of life is not to be happy—but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.—LEO ROSTEN
What were you made to do that you aren't doing?
You get a glimpse into your purpose by paying attention to the things you love, what you're good at, and where opportunities are open for you. When you're a skater, you skate. When you're a writer, you write. When you're a teacher, you teach. And you do those things with everything you have because when your purpose presents itself, you owe it to yourself to follow through.
I get excited by the kind of person I know you will become when you give up your excuses and start uncovering what you've been capable of all this time. I get excited by the kind of impact you will be able to have when you stop playing small, when you get out of your own way, when you are ready to be done holding back and to become all you were made to be. I get excited by inspiring every individual I meet to access his or her great potential so that the world doesn't miss what he or she brings to the table. This is what finishing first is about for me. It's not about proving yourself or beating your competitors but about accessing your deep purpose.
What is your unique purpose? Do you know? If you do know, have you taken any time to stop and make sure you're doing what you were put here to do?
My faith tells me that everything is meaningful, that nothing happens by accident. You are here for a reason. If you don't know that reason yet, you are probably struggling and miserable.
WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
You hear life coaches and inspirational gurus say all the time, "Nothing is out of your reach," but I have a problem with that statement. It's not that I disagree. I don't. It's just that too many of us move through the world with a sense of entitlement, thinking we should be able to have whatever we want, whenever we want it, and that it should be handed to us on a silver platter without us having to pay for it. What I've learned over time is that it's mostly unhelpful to tell people that they can have whatever they want because most of us have no idea what we truly want. What we think we want isn't what we want at all, and what we really want is to fulfill our purpose.
We all have a unique purpose. Exodus 9:16 says, "But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." There is a greater purpose at work than your personal happiness or satisfying your ego. Sometimes we resist our purpose because it doesn't seem convenient or because it won't look cool on Instagram. But you can't argue against your purpose. Michael Jordan, although one of the best basketball players of all time, will never do a backflip on ice skates. And I will never dunk a basketball.