I don’t see the Olympic cheer dousing down so easily in our country. Yes, the contingent is back, accolades have been won, media has glorified our victories and pictures all clicked, but there is something about India’s performance at the 2016 Olympic Games that stands out still.
And what is that?
Well, when the entire nation was ready to accept a no-medal show, it was just then that three women craned their necks out, performed like their life depended on it and showed the world that India is not just about the crime that gets reported or the roads that get jammed; it is also about three strong women who took the world by surprise on the back of their sheer grit and determination. Let us explore what are some of the lessons we can derive from the courage they displayed, and apply in our own lives:
1. Ride over the obstacles
Dipa and Sakshi faced various obstacles from financial to social, which to any outsider would have looked seemingly difficult to overcome. But they did what they did and thus we know that what they did was possible. They did not make their situation, their excuse. The learning clearly is in this very fact – do not focus on or get deterred by the obstacles in your path as the world doesn’t always care to know about them. Life doesn’t just happen to us, it happens for us. If we look for opportunities for growth in all of our obstacles, and ride over them, one by one, it is not just the end that is glorious, the whole journey becomes worth it.
2. Keep your eye on the ball, always
In a country where most women are still fighting over building toilets or giving birth to female offspring, these three female athletes were determined to shine in a field that hardly gets any attention. This level of focus was made possible only because of one thing – confidence in oneself. Be the kind of person who believes in self and then see how your success tastes even sweeter. Let the world challenge your beliefs but if you keep that focus alive – two things could happen- either the world will shut up or what people think will stop mattering.
3. Stay hungry
I cannot get over Dipa Karmarkar’s tweet where she apologized to the nation for not giving them a podium finish. It was simply an out of the world gesture. Even in her interviews later on, she was heard saying that, yes she is proud of her achievement, but still a medal is a medal. That is the level of hunger which we have to keep alive. We’ll achieve the seemingly unachievable only when we don’t limit our aims to how far our predecessors have gone. If we set our aims higher than the mind can conceive, and settle for nothing less, it creates an unstoppable drive in us, and inspires all those around us. Dipa’s hunger instilled a sense of hope in all of us. We are eagerly waiting for her to fight for a medal in 2020 and trust me folks – she will not do it for us. She will do it because she is not satisfied yet.
4. It’s not over till it’s over
The last 7 seconds were all that Sakshi needed to change the story for India at the Olympics. When asked if she deliberately saved the best for last she retorted, “Of course not. But I did not look at those remaining 7 seconds as the end, I saw them as the beginning. I said to myself that I have to pick myself up as these are the only 7 seconds that can get me the medal.” That is the spirit that we have to nurture in our hearts. So what if a career break has pushed you a little behind your peers, so what if the award that you were sure your team would get didn’t fall in your lap- it is not the end of the world. Get up, dust yourself off on and restart. Don’t say it’s over, till it’s over the way you envisioned it.
5. Give credit where credit is due
As much as we know about these girls, we also know about their coaches. All of us were chewing our nails as Pullela Gopichand was chewing his and we all saw how Dipa’s coach hugged her with unmatched delight even though she missed her medal with a whisker. Their success could not have been possible without a few key people (family and coach) and these women displayed a great sense of gratitude to them – be it how Sakshi rode her coach’s shoulders to circle the track or how Sindhu spoke about Gopichand in every interaction regarding her game- the fact is that these women did not reel under self glory. This is the power of a strong woman who will not shy away from acknowledging all those who made her success possible. This learning is immense. All of us have had the support of a few people in our journey as well, who have gotten us where we are today. It could be that boss of yours who motivated you to take the plunge and present your first financial deck or your husband who stood outside the Airport at midnight when your work flight got delayed by 3 hours. Keep your gratitude notes ready and shower them onto the people who deserve them.
5. Keep the child in you alive
You could be the one in the corner cabin who is always immersed in numbers but at the end of the day, you are also a human being who has to let yourself loose at times and soak the world around you. Sindhu craved for sweet curd and chocolates and after her win, those were the first two things she indulged in. Dipa jumped off her open jeep to hug her sister as she spotted her in the crowd that was cheering her. These are traits of a strong woman – she will mean business when she has to but in the depths of her heart also resides a vulnerable little girl who will melt at the very mention of her favorite things. Keep that girl talking to you, always.
I hope more and more women take lessons from these victories and incorporate them in their careers. Determination, courage, focus and positive attitude are things that can take us far, very far. Why just sports then? Across professional fields these attributes will take us places.
About The Author
An MBA from MICA, Parul Tyagi is a marketer and a freelance content curator for over a decade now. An avid blogger, she has written articles for several offline and online publications. After penning down her first two fiction books- Love Will Find A Way and Hurry Om Hari, she forayed into non-fiction writing with her latest, quirky and strictly non-preachy title- 69 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting Married. A full-time mother of two boys, Parul finds her peace in reading, traveling and eating (mostly all at the same time!)