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The Road to Resilience

Last week, I was captivated by the Australian Swimming Trials, where extraordinary athletes competed for the chance to represent Australia in the upcoming Olympics. Watching these trials, it’s evident that our nation boasts a wealth of incredible talent. Yet, beyond the races and the victories, it’s the stories behind these athletes that truly resonate. One story that stood out to me was that of Lizzie Deckers, whose journey exemplifies the power of resilience.

Lizzie Deckers narrowly missed selection for the Tokyo Olympics by the slimmest of margins. Now, at just 20 years old, she has achieved her goal of heading to the Paris Games. When interviewed after qualifying, her joy and relief was evident. She spoke candidly about the heartbreak of missing the Tokyo Games and how difficult it was initially.

Yet, instead of giving up, Lizzie returned to the pool with renewed determination, channelling her disappointment into a drive to improve. And she succeeded. This is what I truly admire.

This story is a brilliant example of resilience. Imagine the emotional toll of missing out on a dream you’ve trained for tirelessly, enduring gruelling workouts and early mornings, only to fall short.

Such moments are the true test of character. It’s in these times of adversity, disappointment, and challenge that our true selves are revealed.

As the saying goes, “The mark of a person is not in what they say. It’s what they do next.”

Resilience isn’t an inherent trait; it’s something we develop through experience. Lizzie’s journey illustrates that resilience is forged in the ordeal of challenge, adversity, and stepping out of our comfort zones.

Building resilience involves a process, one that can be broken down into three essential steps:

  1. Feel the Feels and Get Support
    Acknowledging your emotions and seeking support is crucial. Lizzie undoubtedly experienced intense feelings of disappointment and frustration after missing the Tokyo team. Rather than suppressing your emotions, allow yourself to feel them fully and seek support from family, friends and even coaches.
  2. Learn from the Challenge
    Every setback is an opportunity to learn. Lizzie analysed what went wrong and identified areas for improvement. By doing so, she turned her failure into a valuable learning experience, gaining insights that fuelled her comeback and ultimate success.
  3. Make a Plan and Move Forward
    With renewed focus, Lizzie made a concrete plan to achieve her goal. There can be a tendency to overhaul your entire approach overnight when something doesn’t work or abandon something else altogether. Take things one step at a time. Throwing the baby out with the bath water might not be needed, some simple tweaks may do.

Lizzie Deckers has now realized her dream, standing stronger and more prepared than ever. Her heartbreaking experience in Tokyo became the catalyst for her growth, and now she is in the running to claim Olympic gold in Paris. Her story is so inspiring, demonstrating that resilience can be cultivated and that setbacks are merely setups for comebacks.

Lizzie’s journey teaches us that just because we don’t achieve our goals the first time doesn’t mean we won’t succeed eventually. Sometimes, the path to success is different from what we initially envisioned. Her story is a testament to the power of perseverance and the importance of never giving up on our dreams.