Me with some of my amazing teammates!
Yep, so, I never actually won a Paralympic Gold Medal. Nope, didn't do it ... but I wasn't aiming to do it either.
When I set my goal to compete at the Paralympic games, well, that was it, that was my goal - to compete at the 2000 Paralympic Games, it wasn't to win a medal at the Paralympic games, I just wanted the opportunity to have that experience in life. I did have that experience, twice!, and it was priceless. The games was always more than the medal tally, it was the challenge, the team atmosphere, the joint effort, the travel, the different swimming pools, meeting so many different people from all over the world, it was the whole experience and not just a small part of it.
Now I'm sure most of you know that I did win 3 Paralympics medals, a silver and two bronzes, but these in themselves were bonuses, surprises, lovely added on extra's to the experience, but I have never been bothered that not one of these medals is a gold.
We live in a world where to be considered valued and successful we have to be the best at everything we do - you have to be the best student, the best runner, the best friend, the best mother, the best speaker, the best entrepreneur, the best scientist, the best builder, etc, etc, but to be truly valued as a person, to live a truly successful and happy life, doesn't mean you have to be the best. In fact, in trying to bet the best all the time, you are so focused on one particular goal and outcome, that you can miss the beauty of the journey to get there. In being so one eyed about life you can miss the surprising opportunities that arise when you are treading the path to achievement.
It's a matter of stepping back from the need to be "the best" and instead focus on being "the learner."
You see, for me, what was most important on my journey to the Paralympics, was the actual journey (and within that the journeys that I actually took all over Australia and the world). The biggest gift the Paralympics and swimming gave me was not my medals (though I am very proud of them and thankful that I won them), but my love of traveling, my appreciation of hard work, and the lifelong friends that I made. These things that are intangible, I can't pick them up and hold them like my medals, but I can "feel" them and "see" them reflected in my everyday life, experiences and connections that have held me in good stead when pursuing other goals and dreams.
So I ask you this ... what goal are you so focused on right now that you can't see the wood for the trees? And how can you step back and actually slow time, so you can start to appreciate the journey a little more and start to see the experiences and opportunities that are arising each fresh day? (let me know in the comments below)