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The Teenage World Champion – How Simone Biles Rose Above Her Difficult UpbringingA tough childhood



A tough childhood couldn’t stop Simone Biles from achieving greatness. She learned to love her obstacles and became one of the world’s greatest gymnasts.


At just 19 years old, Simone Biles put in flawless performance after flawless performance at the 2016 Summer Olympics. She walked away with five gymnastics medals, having made the whole thing look easy!


Of course, those performances were the result of a life dedicated to achieving greatness. And as for “easy”, that’s the last word you’d use to describe Simone’s upbringing.


Simone was born to a mother who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. Incapable of raising the young Simone, her mother gave her up into foster care, where Simone spent the first few years of her life.


Thankfully, Simone’s grandparents, Nellie and Ron, intervened.


They chose to bring a three-year-old Simone into their home and raise her as their own. Nellie and Ron became mom and dad, with Simone giving them enormous amounts of credit for her own success:


“I’ve been brought up to never take anything for granted and to always be the best Simone—the best version of myself. From a very young age, they always believed in us and told us to believe in ourselves.”


With her earliest obstacle overcome, Simone discovered that she had a talent for gymnastics. Nurtured by her grandparents, she ascended through the ranks of the United States’ system until she reached the senior team.


Then, it almost all came crumbling down.


Simone’s confidence, which had served her so well in the past, seemed to disappear. During one event in 2013, she made so many mistakes in her routines that she refused to come out for her vault.


It could have ended there.


But being the warrior that she is, Simone took on this new obstacle. She went into therapy and worked hard to develop the mindset she needed for success.


The result?


Three years after that catastrophic event, she was a decorated Olympic champion.

Simone Biles overcame so many obstacles on her road to success. These are the lessons that you can learn from her.



Lesson #1 – Build a Team and Rely On It to Push You


After winning her haul of medals in 2016, Simone didn’t focus on herself. Instead, she expressed admiration for a team member who’d inspired her to success:


“I think I was more proud of Aly getting silver than me getting gold. She’s worked so incredibly hard during her comeback, she’s one of my role models.”


The Aly in question was Aly Raisman, who’d won two gold medals herself in 2012. After taking some time off, Aly came back to Team USA and trained her heart out to compete. During that time, she and Simone formed a powerful bond, with each feeding off the other’s desire.

Aly is unquestionably a part of Simone’s team, as are her grandparents and coaches.


The lesson here is that nobody is an island. You need to build your own team of people who support you and push you to achieve great things. For Simone, seeing Aly in action inspired her to go beyond her previous limits and achieve greatness. For you, it’s a case of finding the people who inspire you and using that inspiration to achieve what you want in life.


Lesson #2 – Don’t Coast on Previous Successes


After winning her medals in 2016, Simone continued to follow Aly’s example. She took a little time off to finally step back and appreciate her achievements. She’d worked hard for 13 years and now had something to show for it.


If she wanted, Simone could coast off that success forever. With her dreams fulfilled, she didn’t need to keep pushing.


But she wanted to do more!


Simone returned to competition at Columbus in 2018 with more complex routines than ever before. She pushed herself to break new ground and try things that nobody else dared to try. And that courage led to her winning the award of best overall gymnast during her return showing.


The lesson here is that your previous successes should act as a springboard for the rest of your life. Coasting on them means you end up stuck in place while everybody else surpasses you.


Enjoy your early successes but don’t allow them to become the sole definition of what you are.


Lesson #3 – Love Your Obstacles (And Use Them to Achieve Amazing Things)


A difficult upbringing couldn’t stop Simone Biles.


A crisis of confidence couldn’t stop her either.


No matter what obstacles Simone faced in life, she pushed through and achieved what nobody expected of her. But moreover, she doesn’t resent the challenges that she’s faced in life. Instead, she uses them to fuel the fire inside her.


For Simone, an obstacle isn’t something that exists to hold her back. It’s simply a challenge that she can use to write more of her own story. Her simple advice is as follows:

“You can’t get too caught up in yourself.”


Getting caught up in your obstacles will stop you from fulfilling your potential. Acknowledge them for what they are, learn from them, and use them to inspire you to great things.


Lesson #4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Rock the Boat


Change can’t happen if nobody has the courage to stand up and do things differently.

And change is certainly what Simone Biles brings to the field of gymnastics. Her routines involve techniques and moves that judges haven’t even seen before. She’s innovating in her field right in front of the whole world. In some cases, her competition judges don’t even know how to score the techniques that she brings to the table.


It’s this desire to do things differently that makes her stand out.


Simone isn’t scared of people thinking that she should stick to more traditional techniques. She doesn’t fear the potential backlash or loss of points from trying something new and failing. Instead, she’s revolutionising her sport and showing no fear while doing it.

There’s a valuable lesson here for you.


Doing things the way everybody does them will just get you everybody else’s results. You need to rock the boat if you want to create real change.


Lesson #5 – Write Your Own Narrative


Who is in control of your story?


It’s you and nobody else. You can’t allow external forces to create the narrative that runs through your whole life.


Take Simone as an example.


Her biological mother had severe issues with addiction. Unfortunately, being around these issues often leads children down the same path. They grow into adults who struggle with the very issues that they saw their parents have.


Simone didn’t allow that to happen.


Instead of following her mother’s path, she used it to craft her own narrative. She saw that this wasn’t the life for her and she started writing her own story from an early age.

The lesson here is that the obstacles that you face in life don’t have to define you. They’re simply part of your story. The part they play in that story is ultimately up to you.


You’re in Control


Simone Biles didn’t let her difficult early years define her. She also didn’t allow a crisis of confidence to hold her back. She’s the perfect example of somebody who’s learned to love her obstacles, which she uses to fuel her fire.


These lessons can inspire you to achieve your own greatness. Apply them while chasing the goals that you have in life and you will succeed.


I’d like to help you on that path to success.


To find out more about how I can do that, please consider scheduling me to speak at your upcoming event.

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© 2021 Sarifa Alonto Younes

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