“The bronze medal felt like gold to me,” said Muffy Davis of her 1998 Paralympic win in the Nagono, Japan Winter Games. It was the last of four alpine skiing events she competed in after falling in all three previous runs, never making it to the bottom of the hill or even to the camera that showed competitors on the Jumbo Tron. Competing in the Olympics was a childhood dream of hers; a dream she thought was dashed when at age 16 she became a paraplegic after slamming her back into a tree while downhill training.
I had the pleasure of hearing Muffy's incredible, inspirational keynote at a recent training and development conference. She even passed the bronze medal around to the audience encouraging us to feel it and to place it around our necks as if we had won the medal. The braille on one side of the medal struck me as I pondered the challenges she must have gone through to will herself up onto the winner's stand.
One of the biggest takeaways from her speech was acknowledging a poor attitude as one of her failures. As trainers we often have people in our classrooms with poor attitudes and if we are not able to help change their attitude we often walk away feeling like a failure. However, as it was pointed out, we have to acknowledge if we have a bad attitude and then move on or try to find a way to help the learner walk away with something they can use right away in their job, regardless of their attitude.
We must remember the positive results we've had in training people. We may not always help every single learner, but it does feel great when a manager comes back and says how much better their team is performing, showing you their improved metrics. Remember these moments. Record them and reflect on them when needed. Build on them because these wins help repeat successes.
In 2002 Muffy built upon her success and won three silver medals in the Salt Lake City Winter Games. We may not be Olympic athletes - I know I am not - but we can be winners by making each training session better than before. We can practice smarter by surrounding ourselves with other successful trainers and coaches that can give feedback. Create that winning environment.
I am cheering for you and let’s cheer for each other and join me in cheering on Muffy in the 2010 London Summer Games as she competes for the gold in cycling.