I'm Erika Ward

Over a decade ago, I exchanged my corporate life in building construction for an opportunity to enhance your personal home via decoration and renovation.  My mission? To help busy professionals make their homes their sanctuaries.

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At the tender age of 16, Gabby Douglas has taken more risk than most of us have as adults.

Over the past few days I, along with the rest of the world, watched Gabby reach out, take fear by the horns, wrangle it to the ground, and reign victorious. The biblical metaphor right there makes me want to take a praise break instead of finishing this post. What a powerful illustration!

WAIT. Don’t go if we don’t share the same faith. I’d hate for you to miss the moral of this remarkable story. These principles, my friend, are universal.

Gabby Douglas made what is difficult, look easy. One of the commentators remarked, while she dominated the uneven bars, that she looked like she was having fun. I suppose that’s what happens when you are joyfully performing a job you love.

What we do know for sure is that her accomplishment of winning two gold metals and making Olympic history before adulthood was not easy at all. It came with great risk, but as we know in business the greater risk often yields greater reward.

What Gabby Can Teach You About Risk

1.| You Gotta Have Cheeky Faith

Gabby said she felt confident all along that she would win. “It was an amazing feeling,” she said giggling. “I was just like, Believe, don’t fear, believe.”

Overcoming fear with faith takes practice, but it also takes what life coach Valorie Burton calls “authentic confidence.”

Authentic confidence is more than self-confidence.

Self-confidence is about what you can do. Authentic confidence is about what God  can do through you, in you, and for you.

I don’t know if Gabby read Valorie’s book, but I have over and over again.

[quote]”Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso[/quote]

Gabby knew at age 14 that she could be a gold metal Olympian. It was her child-like faith that made her feel that everything she imagined was real/or would come to pass.   As we grow older we lose sight of our dreams and are introduced to doubt. We doubt our abilities to accomplish a goal because what naysayers may think, or because of the negative things we tell ourselves. We, if not careful, can be our worst enemy.

2.| Make a List and Check it Twice

Gabby knew working with Olympic trainer Liang Chow in Iowa would lead her to her ultimate dream. Before making the final decision to pack up her belongings in Virginia and travel 1,200 miles to live with a host family, Gabby and her family made a list of pros and cons. The pros outweighed the cons–the only con her family listed was that they would miss her dearly. The thought of Gabby being gone for so long made everyone emotional. As a mom, I get tear-eyed at the thought of my child being away from me during such formidable years. Which leads me to my next point…

3.| Know to How Check Your Emotions

June, one of my very best friends, would tell me not to make decisions solely based on my emotions. Our feelings suddenly change for almost any reason. They change based on the weather, what someone said about us, how we think we measure up to the competition, the list is an exhaustive one.

In Gabby’s case, after a visit from her family on her 16th birthday, she dreaded their departure home. In fact, she wanted to leave with them. For just a moment, her emotions caused her to lose focus. Her mother, Natalie Hawkins, reminded her to not waiver. She had sacrificed so much and come to far to turn around.

The next emotion Gabby felt was disappointment that her mother ‘wasn’t on her side.’ That was a tough call for Natalie. She risked her daughter feeling abandoned but Natalie, a mom struggling with the same emotion of missing Gabby, couldn’t let her daughter’s decision to ‘go for the gold’ waiver.

4.| Choose Between Discipline or Regret

It takes discipline to accomplish a goal of any size. Unarguably, discipline takes hard work. If easy, then we would be equally successful in our own right. It takes what my husband, the football coach, calls ‘fine focus.’ Fine focus is the tunnel vision acquire when zeroing in on the ultimate goal. Nothing on the periphery matters.

[quote style=”boxed”]“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn[/quote]

When you make up your mind to do something you have to do it with what Dave Ramsey calls gazelle intensity. If you’ve watched enough nature shows, then at some point you’ve seen a cheetah pursue a gazelle.

The cheetah is classified as the fastest animal in the world and can accelerate faster than a sports car. For a gazelle, there is literally no time for regrets. Being captured would lead to its ultimate demise. With a cheetah in hot pursuit, the gazelle bobs and weaves his way to freedom knowing that a cheetah runs in a straight line and will eventually tire out due to the gazelle’s change of direction.

What does the cheetah symbolize in your life? Like the gazelle, work with fine focus and discipline to avoid the snare of the cheetah and the pain of regret.

5.| Don’t Rely On Spotters

Did you know that Gabby Douglas is one of the few gymnasts that performed without a spotter, or someone to catch them when they fall? Gabby’s coach spotted her for the few months it took to master her routine then backed off.

“But after she mastered everything, why would I want to make her more paranoid?” he said.

Gold medalist Aly Raisman also performed without the help of a spotter. Her coach, Mihai Brestyan, called it a strategy to sharpen her concentration.

[quote]”You don’t trust nobody,” Brestyan said. “You trust just in yourself. Sometimes the spotter makes you have half-half decisions because you start the skill and then whatever happens, you don’t pay attention, 100%, to the execution. Then you trust to that person, OK whatever happens to me, I will not fall.”[/quote]

Many entrepreneurs have a spotter, whether it be a second household income, help from parents, or a healthy nest egg. Others do not. Consider the success stories of those who have gone from rags to riches. Success was not one of their many options, it was their only option.

Spotters aren’t perfect.

Sometimes gym coaches miss the mark. A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that former Olympic all-around winner Nastia Liukin fell on her face several weeks ago after her father, who is also her coach, didn’t get an arm on her.

Recognize that mistakes do happen, but keep your mind on the execution. Take responsibility for your own actions. Fight, refuse to quit, and focus on your dream.


Please meet me back tomorrow for what has now become a two-part series. I had no idea of the effect this young girl would have on my life when I first sat down to write this post. Tomorrow I’ll discuss The Gabby Douglas Guide to Reward. I’m halfway done. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this!

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Hi, I'm Erika.
Your Design + Happy Healthy Home Advocate.

Over a decade ago, I exchanged my corporate life in building construction for an opportunity to enhance your personal home via decoration and renovation. My mission? To help busy professionals make their homes their sanctuaries.

Learn more