Imagine you’re the G.O.A.T. of your sport.
You’ve already won gold medals, and expected to win a few more.
Pressure beyond reason mounts as you are supposed to be perfect in your performance.
And then everything goes wrong.
And it’s at The Olympics in front of a Billion viewers!
As opposed to pushing forward, possibly risking physical injury, taking the team down with you, instead you decide to pull yourself from competition.
This is where The Promise as a topic of importance becomes essential for your own foundational belief system.
This story will be talked about for years to come, but it is an important one to discuss right now.
Simone Biles, one of the greatest athletes of all-time, found herself in last place after she missed a vault routine that was fairly second-nature to her, but this time didn’t come together.
Everyone can relate to this – when our performance is on the line, we are expected to deliver, especially when that’s what we’re known for having done our entire careers…
It’s our SIGNATURE MOVE to perform under pressure and nail it every time!
And then she came up short when the bright lights were on – even after having succeeding in the past.
Her pride could have kept her fighting to stay in it, and claw her way back into contention.
But she made a PROMISE to herself, deep down inside, that if she wasn’t OK in her heart and mind she would do what had to be done:
Pull Herself from Competition.
“The Promise To The One” is the promise to yourself.
If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend checking it out, as it may help you form your own best opinion about what we’ve just witnessed, and more importantly ask yourself: What would I do?
I present here a few sides of the discussion –
ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF SIMONE BILES’ DECISION:
Have you ever said, “Enough is enough, I’m done!”
If so, then you can relate to Simone Biles doing what is best for her.
She is the greatest gymnast of all-time, pressured to heights unfelt by a majority of athletes who have ever lived, and been expected to win every time.
She knows her body, heart, mind, and what going too far means, especially when it comes to the dynamics of her profession and demands it requires of mental stability while flying through the air.
She decided to take her life and future into her own hands and yes…step away.
This takes courage, strength, and a strong sense of self.
It is with sights set on the future, to not play through the pain, to not risk one more down that could put you down for life.
It is the equivalent of watching the 2019 Golden State Warriors’ All-Stars go down one after the other with career threatening injuries, Kevin Durrant and then Klay Thompson, in an effort to push through one more play, even knowing they were injured.
Would they have stepped on the court if they knew what was coming? Would they sacrifice such for the team and their future?
Remember “Rocky IV” when the towel isn’t thrown and Apollo Creed dies?
Watch that movie again and convince yourself it’s worth the glory of sport to make the ultimate sacrifice, either in the moment or in the future.
Or just go look at what’s happened to 8x Mr. Olympia Body Building Champion Ronnie Coleman. Dang.
What is The Promise to Yourself?
I once turned away the opportunity of a lifetime to have my career dream fulfilled at 25 years old. When I walked from it, everyone told me I was wrong for having done so. Now it has become somewhat glorified, even a story for which I am known, yet at the time, those closest to me, with little exception, and especially those who were famous and rooting for me, thought I had lost my mind and given up!
Is there a right answer?
Only to the person who lives with the decision.
Only The Promise To Self.
ARGUMENT AGAINST HER DECISION:
It has been written by many that Simone Biles has just proven we are raising a generation of quitters.
She has now set the standard for even the greatest to wither under the pressure of competition. Accusing her of bailing just because something was difficult.
Is this the role model we want our children to have?
They write, “Imagine Tom Brady saying he doesn’t want to play in the Superbowl because he feels too much pressure…”
Others argue, “Keri Strugg snapped her leg upon landing her vault in order to Keep The Promise to her team, and will forever live in glory. Simone has just given up on not only her team, but her whole country!”
One wrote, “How selfish can one person be? There are other gymnasts sitting at home, wishing they could have been in that roster spot, and now are seeing the athlete they lost out to quitting!”
The comments are strong, and are valid from the perspective of someone looking from the outside, as a fan, and under the premise of The Promise To Do Whatever It Takes.
Had Michael Jordan decided to skip out on a certain “Flu Game”, my Utah Jazz might have a ring.
Had Serena Williams wilted under the pressure of being the 2nd best in a tennis family where older sister Venus reigned for years, we would have never seen the dominance and magnitude of the greatest tennis champion of all-time.
Had Jesse Owens shrunk in the face of the Nazi regime in Berlin for fear of race discrimination and defeat in the most important Olympic moment ever, perhaps the future of the world changes…
There is much to be said for an athlete, or any performer, to push through and say, “The Show Must Go On!”
You learn this is true when you’re a Dad who is a professional speaker, family of 6 with a mortgage, March 2020 pandemic hits and your career drops off the face of the earth. Suddenly you’re scrambling to figure out Virtual presentations from your house as your bank account is drained and every appliance in the house decides to crap out, including the computer you needed to run everything, and a washing machine that floods the home.
The Show Must Go On!
There is no bailing that situation.
And if you do, you’re a delinquent Dad and a terrible Motivational Speaker.
Just because there’s pressure, demand, and no chance for tomorrow, there is the present moment: today – so you’d better face the music and press on!
Ever seen the true story that is “Cinderella Man”? Cry with me as we watch together a man being pummeled in the name of providing for his family during the Depression.
Are you the one who Breaks The Promise when the going gets tough?
Are you a quitter?
Are you in it to win it?
These are tough questions to answer on behalf of someone else, but for the person watching from the sidelines the answer is clear: If you’re going to quit, don’t lead us on to think you’re in it to win it and then bail.
That is a Broken Promise to Self, Team, and Audience.
From the perspective of The Promise To The TEAM:
Simone Biles made a PROMISE to her TEAM that this would be their moment, their Gold, their Olympics.
And then she had a mental and medical injury.
In that moment, Simone Biles made a PROMISE to her TEAM that she had to do WHAT WAS BEST FOR THE TEAM, even if it was a HUGE HIT to her PRIDE and capability: She withdrew from the Team competition in order to not drag them down.
She had confidence enough in this team that they would go on to succeed without her.
The TEAM went on to win Silver, and most likely wouldn’t have, had Biles been too prideful to step down, and let them carry on without her.
While she was on the sidelines she did not hide – she screamed, cheered, and willed them on from the bench.
To me, this is THE STORY of The Promise to The Team in these Olympics.
Some may argue she should have stuck it out, “never abandon the team!”
I agree. There are few times, if ever, that we should abandon our team.
However, if you’ve ever been rock climbing and one of your climbing partners fall, there is an unwritten, unspoken, and sacred rule among climbers:
If the climber who fell is going to pull everyone else down to their demise with them, and the fallen climber knows this is the case, that person is to reach into their pocket and cut their own rope, falling to their death, sacrificing themselves for the salvation of the others.
Simone Biles ‘cut the rope’ at the Olympics when she realized she was the weak link on the TEAM in that moment.
This is extremely rare for any Leader to do – especially with the world watching and counting on you – yet she showed the very essence of the Legendary Leader who keeps The Promise.
This may go down as her greatest achievement, and greatest sacrifice, even with all of her success in winning, in that she opens a greater door to the conversation around mental health leading to a physical injury.
Had this been understood or acknowledged earlier in the last century, yes, we would have missed out on some great athletic moments and achievements, but we also could have saved many lives in the grand scheme of mental health awareness.
Simone Biles did what had to be done to help her TEAM after she had failed to perform in such a moment.
Not a “medical issue” of the body in terms of a physical injury, although it could have easily led to that; but rather a “medical issue” of the mind, health, and well-being.
This is important and essential to consider this conversation right now, as we are ALL in a state of compromised well-being after what’s just happened since 2020.
Whether you agree or not with her decision – and it’s really not for any of us to agree with it or not – we must self-assess where we stand when it comes to What Is Our Promise to Self, Team, and Audience.
Simone just summed up “The Promise To The One”, which is the promise to self, which affects The Promise To The Team and everyone else!
She may go down as vilified, hated, and despised by many; to others she may be raised up, applauded, and credited for having saved many future mental health related moments in countless lives.
Whatever her legacy becomes, I applaud her bravery and acknowledgement that all was not ok, and that she had the courage enough to step down, even when I’ve been the kind of guy who says, “Hey, no matter what: The Show Must Go On!” And I can honestly say, that’s not always the best choice.
Just go watch “The Wrestler” with Mickey Rourke and cry your eyes out watching someone who thinks he’s keeping The Promise…
Your Promise Prompt for The Week:
What is Your Promise To The TEAM?
If you are the G.O.A.T. of your TEAM, and find yourself in a weak link moment, would you be willing to step aside, allow your pride to be damaged, but know what is best for the overall result, and cheer them on from the bench?
What kind of Legendary Leader are you?
What is your Promise To The Team?
What is Your Promise To Yourself?
And YES, I’m sincerely interested in your argument.
Be brave, share it here, don’t email me!
What’s your opinion of Simone Biles’ decision?
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~ Jason Hewlett