How did you get so strong?
Stories can make us care─about a sport we’ve never watched, a person we’ve never met, or a country we’ve never located on a map. – Anastasia Kourovskaia, VP, Millward Brown Optimor
My favorite thing about watching the Olympics is rooting for the athletes we get to meet as we follow the story of how they got there. Without those stories, they are just hopefuls, and we are just spectators.
Because the world watches the olympics as each competition happens, nearly live, it’s better than any reality TV! Even Survivor, and I <3 Survivor. Unlike a series where stories are edited for a TV styled narrative, the winners and losers at the games are not already sitting home in their medals. It happens right before our eyes.
That means when NBC sketched out the story arc for the video we saw of Simone Biles, giving us a sense of how she became a contender, filming her at her dinner table, at her nail salon, at her championships, she was not yet an olympic legend. We all watched that part together. Four gold medals, one bronze, and the honor of carrying the flag for the U.S.A. at the closing ceremonies in Rio.
Before all that, Simone was a little girl whose mother had to surrender her and her sister to foster care. Whose grandparents wouldn’t let that happen and stepped in, to the rescue. The only parents she’s known. Her Mom always says, “Do your best. Be Simone.”
Olympic stories tell us how elite athletes are made. And when we are watching their stories we start to want for them what they want for themselves. A shot. Something better than before. One more try. Or to be the best. They don’t all want the same thing. Every story is different.
Once you know someone’s story, you know where their strength comes from.
If you were to list the names of three friends and write what has made them strong, I bet it wouldn’t take five minutes. You would say, “OH, my friend Shelly, she is SO strong!” and then you’d say how she got that way.
- because weak was no longer an option once the beatings ended.
- because she’s tried on so many job titles, that she knows who she’s not.
- because her scars have a voice and it won’t be muted.
How did you get so strong?
If NBC sent a film crew to your house to do your bio, what would be in that three-minute clip? Talk about it with your people. You both need to hear the story again.
Practice your story as you practice your strength until it’s as yours as the feet you stand with.
I probably love the olympics because I love survivors. All my favorite stories showcase the pattern of survival that became the story of strength. I believe it’s because the story of the only survivor ever to love his murderers on the way to his torturous death, and then come back to reign, is the story that powers my life.
What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it. – Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
I always feel stronger singing this. Enjoy it, survivor.
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