Too Quiet To Be Successful
"Being yourself in a world that constantly tells us that we are either not enough, or too much requires enormous strength."
They say that within 7 seconds of meeting someone you’ve already formed a strong impression of who they are. A couple of the most common ideas people seem to have about me are that I’m quiet, gentle, introverted. When I think that a normal ‘hi, how are you?’ exchange takes up most of those 7 seconds I don’t know how I manage to give so much away?!
My introduction to Aerial Skiing was on my 19th birthday, I flew from Canberra to Melbourne and my day was filled with interviews, doctor’s appointments, and a whole lot of small talk driving between sessions. Despite my best efforts to bring my chatty self on those car rides, those who were kind enough to shuttle me from place to place, and who would later play a part in assessing whether or not I would earn a spot on the development team wondered whether I lacked the ability to speak, and certainly the self-assertion and daring required to be an Aerial Skier. On my way back to the airport it was emphasized that successful Aerial Skiers who had come before me were perhaps a little more bold, assertive or commanding, and that was the recipe for success. Nonetheless, I was offered a spot on the team, I’m pretty sure it was my skiing skills that got me across the line – thanks mum!
10+ years later I have 2 Olympic Games a World Championship title, and a World Cup title to my name. My quiet nature remains, as do the questions surrounding it’s compatibility with success. Growing up as a kid in Australia I idolised so many of our sports stars and I knew as long as I ate my Weet-Bix and drank my Milo I too could grow up to be just like them! Or could I? I didn’t possess the electrifying personality and comfortability in the spotlight that I saw on TV. Was the only path to success to conform to this extrovert ideal? As the current World #1 in my sport I can confidently say ‘no!’ But, the pressure to conform and the confusion that a softly spoken and understated person can launch themselves 15 meters into the air, perform multiple flips and twists, and ski away as though nothing has happened remains.
“Break the mould and chase your damn dreams!”
I believe that softness and quietness are often confused for weakness. I also believe that being yourself in a world that constantly tells us that we are either not enough, or too much requires enormous strength. So, whether you’re quiet or loud, tall or short, or young or old, break the mould and chase your damn dreams!