Guest Post

Olympic Perspective: Finding and Maintaining Courage

by Lisa Kosglow
10/27/2009

I won't pretend that I'm a businesswoman with great nerve. I'm entrepreneurial but I don't live and operate in the business world. I'm a retired athlete, in one month I'll be a mother, and I have aspirations to own and operate my own business. It is my athletic experience that is supposed to give me credibility to blog on this site. Yes, I’m a member of the first Olympic snowboard team and I participated in another Olympic Games as well. In my thirteen years on the World Cup, I had many successes — both in results and in sponsorship generation. I also had plenty of failures. It is in the down times in our careers where our true mettle surfaces.

This is what I learned in my past life as an athlete and what I return to over and over when I need to find and keep my nerve.

1. Have a big picture goal. If you don't know where you're going how will you know when you get there? At the same time, if you're not sure exactly where you're going then focus on your values. When I quit competing I went back to school but when I was done with school I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. Having a lack of goals and big picture focus is challenging for me, as it is for most athletes that try to make the transition to "civilian" life. Instead I focus on what's important to me: the lifestyle I want to live, the experiences I want to have, the values I want to focus on in my career, the balance between meaningful work and free time with friends and family, etc. If you hold a big picture goal in your mind's eye than all you have to do is walk through the doors that offer you opportunity. Trust me, they will open.

2. Focus beyond the "How" and the "What Ifs." It's easy to get stuck on trying to figure out how things will work out. How will we get out of this economic mess? How will I get health insurance? How will I find funding if the team budget gets cut? What if I don’t make it past the finals? What if the government bailout doesn’t work? I’ve never liked the word "Faith." It reminds me of blindly trusting some bigger power. But over the years I’ve learned to have faith (with a small f) in myself, in life, and even in the universe that things will work out. Focusing on my strengths and letting go of my need to control the situation has been a liberating experience for me and, quite frankly, things do prove to work out for the best. This doesn't mean I sit on my hands at home and just think positive thoughts. Rather I focus on #3 below.

3. Take one step at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed but if you take one step at a time and focus on that one step you can accomplish it and move to the next step. When you have a clear big picture goal you can easily set up steps to get you where you want to go. When you focus on each of the steps individually you are less likely to get overwhelmed. If you're moving forward with the values approach mentioned in #1 then at each step you check in and make sure that it honors the values you’ve identified as being important.

I can't say that if you follow these three easy steps your life will be full of abundance and bliss but I can say that when I follow my own advice, life's challenges seem more manageable and I feel proactive in overcoming fear and negativity. In fact, when I follow my own advice, I feel like I have great nerve and can once again take on the world.

Lisa Kosglow is a two-time Olympian and two time World Championship Silver medalist in snowboarding. She retired in 2006 from competition and is working on a variety of for-profit and non-profit projects.

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by MWCemily: “If you’re not sure exactly where you’re going then focus on your values” – #LisaKosglow @ http://findyournerve.com/archive/401

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