Someone once asked me if I made the team for Rio and didn’t get any medals, would I really be sitting on the plane heading home actually satisfied? Would I really be satisfied if I didn’t win a gold medal? That my goal should be a gold medal in Rio. Not just a medal, but gold.
And while it’s safe to say winning – whether it’s a gold medal or the local crit down the street – is every athlete’s dream, I would be satisfied if I came back without a medal at all. That doesn’t mean I’m okay with losing. Who is? And it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be disappointed. It simply means I would be happy, and not dwell in the disappointment.
You see, to me, not being satisfied only robs you of positive emotions, being happy, realizing your accomplishments and being grateful for what you have. It doesn’t allow you to enjoy the journey and the process. You instead become focused on the result, and the pressure builds as the fun of it fades. Motivation to put in hours upon hours on the bike turns into sleeping in and not making eye contact with my bike; going to the group ride turns into hoping it’ll rain so you don’t have to. And when you lose the fun of what you are doing, you lose the love, which turns into an increased difficulty in being successful. You’ve now successfully put yourself on a slippery downward spiral. What fun is that?
It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t get a medal, or win. I would be in the wrong sport/career path if I wasn’t disappointed. Being satisfied, to me, allows me to feel disappointed and help turn that disappointment into forward progress. “Why am I doing this?” turns into “what can I do differently next time?” Being satisfied with what I’ve accomplished can help me turn the negative feelings into what can I do to accomplish more. It allows me to have a solid foundation for which to build walls upon. It allows me to continue to want more, and to move myself in the right ways in order to get more in sport and in life.
I choose to forget that content is a synonym of the word satisfied, rather focusing on the synonyms pleased, happy, and proud. This allows me to be proud of the journey, the friendships made along the way, and the strong person my decisions have helped me to become. To be happy to be in the position I’m in. Not everyone gets the opportunity to race their bike professionally and participate in the Paralympic Games.
So, yes, when I board the plan to come home after the Games I will be satisfied. How many people get the chance to say they got to go to the Paralympic Games for their country in their lifetime, to compete as such a high level in sport? I can guarantee I will be disappointed as well. And I can guarantee I will also be hungry. Whether I win a medal or not, I will always be hungry for more, for stronger, for smarter, for faster, for braver. For greater. If I come home without a medal, I will turn the disappointment into motivation to not let it happen again. And it will be easier for me to do that because I am happy with the adventure and memories I’ll get to have forever. I will be satisfied because I know I’ve prepared for and given my all in the races.
Winning a medal – gold or not – is just icing on the cake. And there’s never enough cake.