Just Finish It!

Pretty wall

In the Atlanta Olympics of 1996, the U.S. Coach Bela Karolyi carried young gymnast Kerri Struggs around the gym after her second vault. Kerri’s second vault was nothing short of amazing. I remembered her courage and determination to just finish what she had started even though she had badly damaged the ligaments in her ankle on the previous vault. The U.S. Olympic Women’s team was determined to win the team gold medal, something they had never done, and it was all in the hands of injured Kerri to just finish “it”.

As I near the completion of my Doctorate, I fondly look back at the falls I took along the way. I started and stopped the course work on my Doctorate twice before. I found several reasons why I should not continue and was content to leave the gold medal of my Ph.D. on the table. But somewhere inside of me, I found the courage and intestinal fortitude to attempt just one more vault to clinch the gold of my education. I restarted the last leg just a year ago. Though it has been a tough journey, I have completed all course work, and I am now completing my comprehensive exams, the final step before conducting my research and dissertation. Even though my goal is only for self-actualization, I needed to finish “it.” I need my gold medal!

As I near the end of my journey, I reflect on the many stories I listened to, and the reasons I left gold on the table. I enjoy listening to others tell their stories. Still, more importantly, I am often astonished by how many people defer their dreams, hopes, and aspirations because they have fallen and don’t seem either willing or able to “just finish it.” I found that in many of the stories, the person tried and fell, but because of their doubts and fears, they became discouraged and did not finish whatever “it” was they hoped to accomplish.

Though this reflection was about the courage of Kerri, I started the article with her coach because it was the inspiration and encouragement of Coach Bela gently reminding Kerri of how much the team needed her to finish this one vault. His gentle coaching encouraged Kerri to disregard her safety and pain, and she performed a phenomenal vault. Her performance was so awe-inspiring, that even the Russian gymnasts, the favorites to win stopped performing their floor routines to watch Kerri finish “it.” Of all the heroic feats in Olympic history, Kerri’s performance has been the most remarkable for me and continues to propel me to “just finish it.”

But I could not have completed this journey without my family, friends, and mentors who believed in me even more than I believed in myself, at times. Each time I anticipated a fall coming, there was always someone there to remind me that I can do this. I can finish it. What I have learned in this journey, is I have accountability for my performance, but a little coaching goes a long way when I fall, and that I, too, can become a coach to help someone bring home the gold. Just finish IT!

Stan Brooks, PhD

By Stan Brooks, PhD

Dr. S. MacNivan Brooks is an Intergroup Leadership Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Author.

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