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What The Best Athletes in the World Know, and What You Should Too

 

Being an athlete taught me a lot of things, and fast. Every second and minute that isn’t spent training, is spent on recovering or trying to learn a better way to do what I’m already doing. Success does not come from aimless, dogged practices. It’s about working smart, not just hard. It is about repeatedly doing the right thing, not about doing everything right. Learning to reevaluate your game plan and pivot your course of action or even walk away entirely is fundamental to achieving success.

“I can tell myself with no hesitation that I’m the best at what I do. I earned it. But to become the best, I had to learn a lot of lessons about always being prepared to change direction, and refusing to get sucked into other people’s opinions of what it means to succeed or fail.” 

— Tim Grover

Giving Up

One of the most important, but surprising things I learnt was learning to give up and walk away. From a young age, we are taught that success is derived from grit, perseverance and hard work. This isn’t wrong. Consistency and perseverance are imperative to achieving success. Good work takes time, and it means clocking in the hours, day in and day out. By virtue of being an athlete, you must become comfortable with being in pain, and perhaps even learning to love it. Muscles get built by being torn and regrowing back stronger. You literally only get better by enduring the sweat and the pain. But the smartest athletes also know that time is a scarce resource. We only have the same amount of time as the next to be better, faster, and stronger. This means that it is important to be able to quickly realise when something is not working and move in a different direction into a different course of action.

Often times, it is harder to leave than it is to keep fighting. People get caught up in sunk cost. They get attached to the time, effort or money of something they have been investing in. Never be afraid to go back to the beginning, reevaluate your position and strategy, and start again.The worst cost that you can suffer is in fact the one of the unrealised gain of something far greater.

Practicing Habit over Discipline

Discipline is something that is earned, not something you are born with. Most athletes do not start out being disciplined. We are not magically more motivated than others. Athletes know that discipline is built by creating habits. Building good habits take time. Start. Take the action and just do it. I cannot emphasise this enough. The beginning is hard, but eventually habit takes over. Once you build discipline long enough to become a habit, the effort needed to sustain it begins to diminish. Not just for that one thing, but for every area of your life. Doing what is hard starts to become easier.

Prioritise

Every athlete is given the same 24 hours, so you have to figure out how to train smart to get an edge over your competitor. Athletes know that you cannot build strength, improve skill and cut weight all at the same time. Training programs come in phases and have different focuses. Success is created from sequential and focused hard work. Do this often enough and when it is time to peak, get ready for extraordinary results.

This also means learning to prioritise the things that are important. Learn to say no to the things that do not add value to your life in a massive way. By saying no and prioritising the things that are important, you free up space in your life physically and emotionally to create massive results in the areas that do matter. Setting boundaries for what you are willing to do and give, helps you to assess the impact of your actions. By deciding what is worthy, it allows you to give more in the areas that are deserving of your time and energy.

Mimic the Best

It is vital to have great role models. The surest way towards success is to identify the best in the field that you want to succeed in, and mimic what they do. Not just people that inspire you, but people that you can specifically imitate. See what they do, and do it too. Of course, you may have to evaluate and adapt it to fit what works for you. But largely, these people have figured out how to get to where you want to go, so you will definitely be moving in the right direction. Understanding and implementing the steps towards success is already the biggest hurdle overcome.

Everyone Needs a Team

Nobody can go at it alone. You need to build a team of people around you. Athletes always have coaches to guide them. Even in individual sports, it is crucial to train with the best to become the best. Surround yourself with the best, and it will push you to become greater too. When you raise your standards and constantly surround yourself with people who are repeatedly pushing the boundaries, you will too. Greatness is contagious.

Remember always that life is happening forus, not tous. When we begin to truly feel and believe that, we can focus our energy on what is the correct path and the best action to move forward and get there.

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It's the Small Steps that Count Towards the Big Stuff

 

I had a conversation with someone the other day, and it goes something like this:

"If only I had this, I would be happier; I know that things are like this, but if only they were like that, things would be better; I would change this, but I'm stopped by that."

We hear so many variations of this in our every day life. Whether it is through the stories we tell ourselves of what is getting in the way of achieving our goals, or the people we surround ourselves with who make excuses for why they are not where they want to be. People are always looking backwards, at what has happened and cannot be changed, instead of looking forwards, accepting what is, and trying to change what is within their control now.

Everybody wants to be a lot of things. They want to be richer, faster, stronger, healthier and smarter. Those same people sit in their chair, doing nothing, wishing, hoping and wanting. It's like sitting in a chair, hoping a unicorn will appear in your lap, and then being sad when it doesn't. When put like that, it sounds a bit silly. But we all have the tendency to fall into that kind of excuse-making mentality. We make up stories of why we can't have something, instead of trying to figure out what is within our control to change our situation.

The reality is that there is a huge delta between wishing and wanting, and getting up and taking action. The doing part is the hard part. But it doesn't have to be big steps. You don't need to accomplish all your goals in one day. The marathon is not going to be run straight away. You need to train for it, and that starts with breaking it down into small, bite-sized, manageable goals first. Start small, but make sure that you're taking steps forward. If you start by just running an extra minute every day, you'll find yourself pacing through a marathon eventually. 

 

"Don't join an easy crowd; you won't grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high."
- Jim Rohn
 

1. It's great to have goals, but we also need to take immediate action to achieve them

Immediate action starts with doing little things every day, that go towards cracking the big goal. It's important to have a great dream to strive and aim towards because this is what pushes us when the chips are down. It is what makes you wake up day after day, when it seems like all your efforts are not pushing the goalpost much further. It is what makes you love the process and the journey and make it all worth it. However, by breaking it up into small weekly, monthly and yearly goals, it helps to keep you on task and on track to attacking the big stuff.

2. Start every morning with a small win

By starting the day with a win, it sets you up to tackle the harder stuff. For me, I try to start the morning with exercise. This helps me to tackle several things straight away. Firstly, since I am not a morning person, it fosters discipline and gets me comfortable with doing the uncomfortable. Achieving goals are never easy so it is important to get well acquainted with the difficult. Secondly, it helps me to push boundaries first thing in the morning. This sets me up for a day of accomplishments and puts me in a driven mentality.

3. Be kind to yourself

It is often easy for us to offer compassion to others, but it is very easy to forget to be kind to yourself. If you didn't achieve the task you wanted to today, forgive yourself, accept the present moment, and try to be better tomorrow. Self love is so important and helps you to realign towards what is truly important. Listen to your body. If you need a day of rest, take it, and be ready to attack the next day with even more fervour. Ensuring that you look after your mind and body gives you a greater ability to accomplish even more in the long run.

4. Be Patient

Most importantly, be patient. The tough stuff takes time. Keep working at it, taking the consistent steps forward, and learn to get comfortable with rumbling through the tough and the difficult for a while.

Greatness won't be easy. It never is. But I promise that the pursuit of it is always worth it. On the other side of every seemingly insurmountable hurdle, are small steady steps of action that will get you there, and one giant leap across into someone you always wanted to be, and now are.

 

What have you been struggling with, that you will commit to TODAY and take action NOW towards creating a better you?

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Read This If You Have Ever Felt Like You Have Failed

I was very upset yesterday. Upset, disappointed and just heartbroken at the realisation that my dream and everything that I had sacrificed and worked so hard for, was not going to come to fruition. I felt bitter and disheartened at the idea that maybe hard work would not be rewarded. It was a tough day. I’ve learnt so much over the years about how to command my thought process, to flip negative and unhealthy thoughts and change them into positive motivators. But that day, I did not want to be positive or strong or move forward. I just wanted to be sad.

 

I woke up this morning and instead I chose to be grateful. Grateful for the incredible people I have around me: my family, who has rallied together to support me and suited up and gone into battle without a second thought; my coaches/ psychologist who have gone above and beyond and have always reframed the situation and helped me to keep moving forward and who have an unwavering belief in me and where I am going; my best friends - who check in on me constantly and support me despite being all over the world.

 

I. Am. Blessed.

Very blessed. Most people do not have the luxury of so much love. So today, I’m choosing to be thankful and see everything that I do have, instead of everything that I don’t. Because what I have is a lot.

 

For some reason, this is not my time and it was not meant to be. But my time will come. I refuse to mark this down as a failure — this is simply the beginning. For whatever reason, things have not gone to plan. I can tell you right now, that the hardest thing to do is to change direction once you’ve set your goals. My goal hasn’t changed, but how I am going to get there is going to have to. Find the courage and confidence to reevaluate, change what you’re doing and keep going.

 

I know I am only at the start of my journey and I have so much more to give, learn and grow. I am deciding to be relentless in my pursuit. That’s how you avoid failure. You decide not to fail. You decide to keep going, and instead look for the unexpected option that keeps your situation in control. Your control. Because you are always in control of your journey and your destiny. Establish your own vision. Create your own definition of what it means to be unstoppable. What does your gut tell you about what you should be doing, who you’re going to be and how you’re going to succeed?

 

“When someone else says you’ve failed, what they really mean is ‘If that were me, I would feel like a failure.’ Well, that guy’s not you.” - Relentless, Tim Grover

 

If you have ever felt like you have failed, choose different. Decide that you have not failed and keep going. Don’t accept that it is over, and it will not be.

Find your why

 You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything. - Jay Asher

 

There is no secret that the lead up to the SEA Games was tough for me. Everyone could tell by how emotional I got on the podium receiving my first medal. For me, competitions have always been the reward. I train hard so that I can relax and just enjoy what I love doing - skating and competing. I know that I have trained my hardest and given my all, so I can walk away knowing that there was nothing more I could have done. Unfortunately, the months, the night and even the very day of the competition was riddled with many challenges and what I like to call "character-defining" moments. I remember dad said to me the night before about how every one of these tough situations was just going to make me even stronger. I recall joking that every time he had said that, life seemed to throw at me even harder and more challenging situations to deal with. So I told him I was done with growing through tough times and that I'd grown enough! But all jokes aside, it was a hard journey and to those who knew what was really going on, they agreed that it was far harder than most. Maybe that is what makes the champion and separates first and second. I can't know for certain.

 

Many people that have been following me post- SEA Games have commented about how positive and motivational I am and how it has inspired them. I take a great responsibility in that. So I want you to know that I have my tough days too. I just choose to spread the good and the positive instead of dwelling on everything that is weighing me down. That's how I move forward.

 

I'm going to be honest - I don't think the hard goes away. I don't think it ever stops getting easier. But here's the secret: the good gets greater.

 

People always ask me: was it worth it? To that I say, that's not the right question. If you balance out all the bad that has happened to me, the bad far outweighs the good. I heard someone once say that to be great at anything, you had to be a little insane, because nobody that was sane would go through all the crazy. I can tell you with a certainty that I wouldn't wish the way I was treated, the bullshit and the tough times I've endured in the last year and a half on my worst enemy. But at the end of the day, we do what we've got to do and we endure the things and people that we have to, in order to get to where we are going. The bad will never outweigh the good if you don't have big goals and dreams. If you don't have a bigger purpose for everything beyond yourself. I will also say this: it has made me appreciate the good in my life so much more. The people in my life who have really stepped up. My family who have sacrificed so much - emotionally, but also financially. It has been taxing on everyone in my family.

 

To everybody that has messaged me telling me that I've inspired them to push a little harder or dream a little bigger... to the organisations that have come forward asking me to speak about what I'm passionate about and the causes I advocate awareness for - this is what I endure the bad for. YOU are the ones that motivate me to keep going, keep grinding, and ignore all the naysayers. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

 

So find your why. Your reason to keep going. If your why is bigger than the bad, then nothing can stop you.

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable

"When we are are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves." - Viktor E. Frankl

 

Sod's law states that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. In the last few months, that adage has never rung more true. Hurdle after hurdle seems to have cropped up in the lead up to the SEA Games. Obstacles that even I couldn't have prepared for in my "What If's" preparation for staying ready. Yet, as I fly back home today for the opening ceremony and start of the SEA Games, there is an overwhelming sense of gratefulness and happiness.

 

Mostly because it has given me a greater hunger for what I want to accomplish. But also, because it has shown me time and time again that throughout the hard times, I have an incredible group of people around me that don't just show up, but go beyond. The unwavering support of my amazing family and friends has given me the strength to stay strong in the face of adversity. When I couldn't be strong, they lifted me up instead. Without them, I could not do what I do. They know who they are, and this moment is every much theirs as it is mine. I literally would not be here, with my head held high and my resolve unwavering, if not for them. Thank you. Beyond that - many people have also surprised me in their compassion and support, renewing my faith in the love and goodness that exists in this world. Always remember that hate cannot drive out hate; only love can.

 

I know that the challenges are far from over and that the universe will continue to test my strength and resilience. Nonetheless, a sense of calm has washed over me. I am excited for the challenges to come- in fact, I welcome them with open arms. I know that whatever happens, I can handle it. I have done the work and put in the hours, and I am ready. The ride was hard, but I'm ready to enjoy the view. Motivational speaker Eric Thomas has a great line, that all men are created equal, but some work harder in pre-season. Dreams are free; but the hustle you have to pay for.

 

The great thing about sport is that it pushes you - physically and mentally. The same goes for every obstacle that stands in the way between you and accomplishing your goals. In a world of uncertainty where things going wrong is a matter of centimetres and degrees, one thing is for certain - no matter how tough the storm, when you walk through the other side and the dust settles, you won't be the same person who walked in. Setbacks and challenges are the springboard to grow stronger. To be strong when others are not. To overcome more, survive more, and ultimately, achieve more. The relentless will to be unstoppable is what changes you. When no one would blame you for giving up, but you show up and get right back to work - that is the sweet spot of learning to grow and push past what you are capable of and becoming the person you are meant to be.

 

You don't grow strength in the good times - the struggle, the pain, that is where the courage and the unbreakable is built. These qualities are made in the hard times. If not for the hard times, you wouldn't know how far you could go. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable - this is what makes the great.

 

Come support me and the rest of the Malaysian National Short Track team compete at Empire City Damansara MYNISS on the 29th August from 2.00pm - 4.30pm and on the 30th August from 11.30am - 4.00pm.

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Eyes Forward: SEA Games and Beyond

After a solid 7 weeks of volume training in Korea, it's nice to finally be in Calgary for a month long training camp for a change of scenery (and pace - I'm ready to do some speed sessions now!!)

This marks the beginning of lots of traveling - Canada, Malaysia, Korea, Italy, Korea (again) Malaysia (again), Korea, Hungary, Netherlands, Shanghai and then Korea again all within the next 5 months. I'll be doing two month long training camps to prepare for the upcoming competitive season which kicks off in July with the test event of the SEA Games.

My last update was a while ago, and I apologize for my absence. I had planned to write an update back in March looking back at the end of the season and the milestone of competing in my first World Championships as the first female representative from Malaysia. Alas, as most of you already know, the day before the competition, I fell in the official practice and injured my ankle. After a lot of tough decision making - and tears - I decided to withdraw. I needed to look after my body first, before my pride.  

I've learnt a lot about the real meaning of how it 'takes a village to build an athlete'. This past season I've gratefully had an incredible support team come together around me: my coach; my teammates who motivate me; my training teammates who constantly push me; my partner in crime without whom I could not survive training; my best friends who message and FaceTime me constantly; every single one of my family who have made sacrifices financially and gone above and beyond to support me both physically and emotionally; the support of MapleZ who provide me with the best blades; my strength and conditioning coach; my nutritionist; my strategist and sounding board; my psychologist Phillip Lew from MSN who sends the best motivational quotes and videos; of course the incredible support team from MSN and OCM who support my dreams and make me proud to represent such a great country; most importantly, ISAM and in particular the President, Mr Billy who's overwhelming support and belief in me has helped to grow me into the athlete that I am. To everyone else who constantly checks in, sends me positive words of encouragement or even just gives me a cheeky like - thank you for your support too.

I'm a big believer in trusting the process and waiting for your moment to arrive. This last year has really tested my faith in that. 

 

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” - Ambrose Redmoon

 

I realize now that everything happened as it has meant to go. Given the chance to redo or change the obstacles of the year past, I realize now that I wouldn't, with the wisdom that all those experiences were needed to create and prepare me to be the athlete that I have become. 

I still have a lot to learn and improve, and I'm humbled by the high level of inspiring athletes around me, but I am also excited by the big leaps of improvement I have been making in training. Each week I am getting stronger than the next and even more motivated by all the exciting things to come this season. Namely, representing my country on home ground at the SEA Games and the World Cup Olympic Qualifiers. 

Lots of big goals and big dreams - but if it was easy or expected, it wouldn't be worth it. The one thing I love more than this sport, is proving people wrong. Just because something has not been done, does not mean it can not and will not be done. 

To those who have tried to push me down and make me feel small for growing tall-

Thank you for pushing me to skate even harder and even faster. 

To the disbelievers and the small dreamers-

Not every dream will be accomplished, but the fool lies in never having dreamed at all. Because those who never dream, never accomplish.

To everyone out there challenging the norm and doing something that nobody else believes in-

Stay foolish. Work hard. Dream big. Have the last laugh.

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Reflecting on 2016, Looking forward towards 2017

❝There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.❞ - Nelson Mandela

This year has not been without its struggles and hardships. I graduated from the University of Nottingham in June after a long slog that resulted in me deciding to chase my dreams. Despite the hurdles that I knew lay in wait, I decided to jump, not knowing whether my parachute would open, but always keeping the faith that I would somehow land on my feet. Training eight hour days in such an austere environment has definitely given me insight into the meaning of putting in my '10,000 hours'. While I'm no where near mastering my field, this last six months has indeed taught me what unwavering focus, sacrifice and pure guts can foster. 

This year, I got pushed far beyond my limits, but I also learnt to redefine what I thought was possible. Despite everything, it was a rewarding year. One filled with lots of challenges, but more importantly lots of love. For that I am ever grateful to my family and friends who not only support me on this wild adventure, but believe in me and my crazy dreams. Thank you 2016, and here's hoping that 2017 is filled with much of the same.