Twenty-four hours before Opening Ceremony, the opening night of 2018 Olympics, figure skater after figure skater fell. The best-in-their-nation ice skaters, world champions, fell on the ice. The commentators were stunned. They kept telling us these athletes are the best there has ever been and then we would watch a misstep, under-performance or an altogether fall. And yet every time, they quickly drew their feet underneath themselves and moved through the rest of their program. It was as if the skaters understood that they were the best in their nation, world champions, privileged to be on the ice at the Olympics; as if deep within them, they recognized that what they were doing was celebrating who they are and where they were, not competing for certain accolades or to meet certain standards. I began to understand this when I heard the USA’s married couple, competing in the pairs figure skating, interviewed. She fell on the ice. Afterwards she simply said they were here to celebrate. They were at the Olympics after all!
If who we are equals our performance plus what others think of us, we will never be satisfied. We will continually strive and push and strain but never feel fulfilled. The home I grew up in told me I could be and do anything. But the world I walked through demonstrated women were best as homemakers, teachers of children, maybe professors, possibly musicians, definitely not leaders. It felt incongruent. When I listened to my world, my design to lead seemed wrong. I was nearly forty when I began to live and lead from my design — my long-lost childhood world behind me. Discovering who you are and celebrating that, recognizing where you are and honoring that, brings great fulfillment.
When we show up as a celebration of who we are and where we are, rather than a competition for someone’s approval, the difference is palatable. Alexa and Chris Knierim’s performance on opening night delighted the audience despite her fall because they were authentic, being who they were designed to be. They were living in the moment, focused on being fully present rather than focusing on the score. They were grateful, recognizing that where they were was a unique and special privilege. It didn’t matter to them what happened next, they had shown up celebrating who they were and where they were. The rest is history.