London2012 Inspired Take-Aways. #1 Take Pride In Being Yourself.

Like many others, I was glued to the Olympics this year. The tagline for London2012 was:

“Inspire a Generation.”

Having been fortunate enough to be in London at the time of the Olympics, I think it is fair to say, you were inspired regardless of the generation you belonged to.  Although it seems that the fever of the games was contagious, it was some of the life stories that overlaid some of the athletes that truly inspired and moved me.

London2012 is being hailed as one of the best for female athletes given it was the first time every Nation had a female athlete to represent them. An important milestone indeed. So for that reason, I have decided to write a handful of posts on those female athletes that inspired me and I am calling these posts “My London2012 Inspired Take-Aways.”

As there seems to be a lot of discussion in the media on the topic of a woman’s hair lately, I have decided to kick-off with Joanna Rowsell.

Without a doubt when Joanna Rowsell stood on th podium to collect her gold medal for cycling at the Olympics, sporting her bald head got as much attention as her gold medal. Without a doubt, you could not miss the glow of pride in her accomplishment , as well as the pride she extruded  in who she is and what she represented.  LOVED IT!

Now I have since learned that this proud and brave act was a result of a hard life journey. Joanna Rowsell suffers from alopecia; an auto-immune disease that results in hair loss. Joanna lost her hair at the age of 11 which resulted in Joanna being  very shy as a child and spending most of her time at home away from other children.

Alienated by her condition, she was drawn to her studies as a place where she could compete and be accepted in society. She became an A-student.  Joanna has shared:

‘Working hard was the only thing that stopped me from worrying about the future, about whether I would get a boyfriend or how I would face getting a job with strangers.

‘Then cycling came along and I applied the same work ethic. I worked through any worries I had about my hair and I focused solely on that. It made me who I am.’

So why am I inspired by a bald woman receiving a medal?

Well, Joanna’s  journey included a period of isolation due to being different. She did not fit. So she poured her energy and focus elsewhere to ensure a hopeful future and a reason why the world should not count her out. I think many can relate to this. Being different can be a lonely journey. So hearing this story provides hope to those who are struggling by being atypical.

Secondly, she came to a point in her life where she stood on the world stage and by that one-act said to the world “This is who I am”. The authentically of that act resonated with so many including myself. Quite frankly it elevated her medal from gold to platinum in my books.

Getting to the point of knowing who you are and taking pride in your person, is a key step before confidence can be gained. It is also key to being authentic both in your personal and professional life.

Society has a way of  belittling  your natural image especially if it not aligned to what mainstream media suggest is acceptable or beautiful.  So people like Joanna become role models by breaking the rules of what is considered acceptable  while driving to succeed and bringing a sense of reality to us.

Love Joanna’s story. Love the message.

Take pride in being yourself.

Do you have a similar experience you can share? Would love to hear it.

In the interim, I am going to work on my next story. Stay tuned.

Cheers

Shirley

About Shirley Williams

I have a passion to create, resolve and build.I have had a pretty dynamic career that some say has led to a solid reputation as a visionary, result-driven and passionate leader. I say, simplify the complexity, work WITH people and you have a formula that not only deliver results but forms bonds that will stand the test of time. I have led numerous initiatives with a geographical scope that has included Canada, US, The South Americas,Europe and Australia. My professional career spans Biotechnology, Brand & Generic Pharmaceuticals, IBM Business Consulting Services, Healthcare, Retail, Electronics, more recently Mining and now Social Media. I am a biochemist and have a Master of Scence degree in endocrine pharmacology. I am a certified practitioner and professional in Change Management (Prosci), Project Management (PMP/PMI) and Social Media (OMCP, Online Marketing Certified Professional). So that makes my full title to be: Shirley Williams, MSc. PMP. CMC. OCMP. Having spent many years in the LifeSciences (you can check my career profile on Linkedin ) I have now directed my attention to bridging strategy and goals with social media. Loving it! In fact I am passionate about it. I have also produced and currently host my own internet radio show. My programs to-date have included Rise Of The Patient and Give Startups A Chance. I consider myself as an Experience Enabler. I facilitate and advocate for improved experience from the consumer perspective. Thank you for stopping by to check me out!

7 Responses to “London2012 Inspired Take-Aways. #1 Take Pride In Being Yourself.”

  1. I love this! I love the story and the fact that you chose to start with her. There were so many inspiring stories during the Olympics! This was one of my favorites.
    I had a very good friend who suffered from this disease. We were in Junior High when we met. My Mother was a nurse and explained her condition to my sister and I. She wore wigs and false eyelashes. We treated her as an equal and we shared many happy adventures together. It wasn’t until later on, when we were adults, that she revealed that our acceptance of her helped her accept herself. I’m happy this woman chose to live her life on her terms. She is an inspiration to us all. Dyane

    • Dyane!
      Thank you so much for sharing on so many levels.What another lovely and important story. Like you, I remember a childhood friend who had a skin disorder which also led to hair loss.It was extremely hard for her and yet such a wonderful spirit. Like you, Joanna’s story resonated with me on a number of levels. I believe the more we speak about what is “normal” the more our definition of normal would be broaden and accepted. Sadly, we have a tendency to shy away to contain the pain that goes with it. This is what is wonderful about this media, we can indeed get the stories out there. Thanks again for sharing and continuing the dialogue.
      Shirley

  2. Shirley, my Olympic experience this time around was limited to late news highlights so needless to say, I missed a lot, this inspiring moment being one of them. It instantly reminded me of one of my favourite quotes by E.E. Cummings. “To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.” Being different is hard; it takes courage to stand out from a crowd and not blend in. Olympic athletes, by the very nature of their commitment and physical prowess stand out, which makes Joanna’s story that much more inspiring. She chose to stand out in front of millions. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Laurie,

      What a beautiful quote! It totally resonated with me. Thank you for sharing 🙂
      I was fortunate to be in London for most of the Olympics so there was no escape… and I loved it. I returned to Canada two days before the closing ceremonies and immediately was struck by the difference in reporting. As a result, it motivated me even more to write on what inspired me and share it. I am so thrilled by your feedback and to know that it spoke to you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. London2012 Inspired Take-Aways #2 Change Happens When You Take The First Step | William Pearl - August 19, 2012

    […] is my second post on my London2012 Inspired Take-Aways. 204 Nations were represented at the London2012 Olympics and a female was sent to compete for […]

  2. London2012 Inspired Take-Aways. #1 Take Pride In Being Yourself. | Leadership, Organizations and Performance Excellence | Scoop.it - August 20, 2012

    […] London2012 is being hailed as one of the best for female athletes given it was the first time every Nation had a female athlete to represent them. An important milestone indeed. So for that reason, I have decided to write a handful of posts on those female athletes that inspired me and I am calling these posts “My London2012 Inspired Take-Aways. As there seems to be a lot of discussion in the media on the topic of a woman’s hair lately, I have decided to kick-off with Joanna Rowsell that to me demonstrates the Take-Away of Being Yourself.   […]

  3. London2012 Inspired Take-Aways #2 Change Happens When You Take The First Step - Shirley Williams | Shirley Williams - September 9, 2013

    […] is my second post on my London2012 Inspired Take-Aways. 204 Nations were represented at the London2012 Olympics and a female was sent to compete for […]

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