What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Would you become an astronaut and fly to another planet? Would you run for president or completely eliminate hunger from the world? Whatever you decide to do, aim high and attempt the seemingly impossible because you can’t fail.
I truly do believe that people can do anything they put their minds to. The majority of the people I know are aiming to succeed in the competitive industy that is the arts, which seems is designed for failure. The highs are extremely high and the lows are equally and painfully low. I have so much confidence in my friends and faith that they will succeed. I’ve seen them defy the odds that are against them and accomplish things most people will never accomplish, and all before they reach thirty-years-old. Whenever any of them doubt themselves, I am the first to cheer them on. I tell them they can do it. I honestly believe they will make it and I am usually right. They reach their goals because they are dedicated, hard working and talented people, but they all also have a certain quality. They don’t believe in the word “no” and they don’t give up on themselves. They persevere no matter how many times they don’t get it right the first time around.
When it comes to myself, I am not so good practicing what I preach. The rational side of my brain gets the best of me and I wonder if I should have a plan B. Sometimes I think that I am so far behind and worry about not being where I need to be at this moment in time. I thought that by now I would have a whole different lifestyle. A more responsible, adult, together, and traditional kind of life rather than the chaotic one I have now. I wouldn’t trade the reality for the one I had lined up in my head though. What I have now is more exciting, free, and fun. At least that is what I tell myself when that little voice inside asks me, "What the hell are you doing with your life?" I don’t think I am the only person who has ever created an abstract deadline in their head for goal meeting.
In fact, I met a very inspiring woman who is finally going after what she always wanted, just a little later in life. For years she ignored a desire to do something she loved but that desire would not go away no matter how many years passed. So she made up her mind to go for it. Her name is Lisa Fisco and she is training to be the oldest weightlifting Olympian ever. At fifty-years-old, she is breaking boundaries and inspiring people everywhere to go for the gold no matter the age.
Lisa, a strong believer in following dreams, is taking her own advice and pursuing a life long fantasy to become an Olympic competitor. Her motivation came while she was going through an unhealthy period in her life following the end of her marriage. She gained over a hundred pounds from stress after the divorce and fell into a deep depression when her children moved in with her ex-husband.
Finally fed up, she made a conscious effort to turn her attitude and life around. She started working out again in the gym where she re-awakened her love of lifting, an activity she used to do with her father as a child. On a leap of faith, she emailed a US Olympic weightlifting coach asking him to help her. Inspired by her story, he agreed. When I asked her what her goal is, she said it’s to make the team and enjoy the journey along the way. That is exactly what she is doing by reaching people all over the world who write to her from places like Kenya and Denmark inquiring about how she found her passion again. Her response,
Lisa is now in the gym twice per day, five days a week following an intense training regimen with her current coach, Tom Delong. Tom is a professional strength conditioning specialist. Together they follow the old Soviet weightlifting team model, the process of achieving sports mastery. They train for two and a half hours in the morning and again in the evening. She demonstrated some of her exercises for me including kettle bell swings, sled pulls, high pulls, muscle snatches, thrusters, and dead lifts. She is currently lifting at the 200 pound level. In addition to practicing those moves, Tom teaches her the proper technique which he says is the most important building block for athletes, especially athletes like Lisa who are starting out later in life. The moves are very technical. According to Lisa, there are just two lifts in Olympic weightlifting. One is called the snatch, which is one continuous movement with the weight from the floor to the overhead position. The second is the clean and jerk. This movement is really two movements in one lift. It starts at the floor with a lift that takes the weight to shoulder level and then is jerked overhead.
Critics say that women of Lisa’s age competing are almost non existent and tell her that she will fail and not be able to do it. However, Tom says what Lisa is doing is not at all out of the ordinary. She is strengthening the basics of human movement. He made a great point when he told me people push, they pull, they carry, they squat up and down, they bend, and twist. People pick their babies up and lift them over their heads all the time. Tom is proud to coach someone working so hard to defy all odds and encourages people to look within themselves and ask, “what is it that you love? What turns you on? What flips that switch in you?” Then go for it.
Female Olympic weightlifting competitors fall into one of seven categories based on body mass. Each weight division will then compete by performing those two moves. In order for Lisa to qualify for the USA Olympic Weightlifting Team, she must first compete in a series of meets sanctioned by USA weightlifting. She told me it takes a lot of training to become part of the Olympics. It has to become your lifestyle. It has to become your passion. It has to become what you think about the majority of each day.
Lisa has two more years of training and competing before the 2012 games in London. By then she will be 52 years old and might possibly just be the oldest Olympic weightlifter ever.
As for you, do that thing you always dreamed of doing. You can’t fail. When you weigh your options, don’t think in terms of can you or can’t you? Only think about which of the many things to do first.