According to our friend, Google, the definition of “leader” is:
The person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.
That’s all well and done, but being a leader goes further in-depth than the standard definition.
Aly Raisman is the ideal example of a leader, and someone that I have come to not only appreciate as an athlete, but as a person too. Those who know me well, know that I am a huge fan of Gymnastics, but that isn’t why I’m writing this. Raisman is someone that we need in our society today. This post puts aside the Nassar case and the fall of USA Gymnastics; I’m focusing on Aly Raisman as a leader.
I’ll never forget an interview Raisman did leading up to the 2016 Olympics; she talked about her hate for the Number 4. Majority of competitions that Aly took part of, she kept placing fourth, which meant she was so close for a medal but yet so far. This was a huge factor for her 2016 comeback. In the 2012 All-Around competition, Aly had tied for third but the Olympics do not award multiple medals for a tie. In an unfair tie-breaker, Aly ended in fourth. So, what happened? She made it to a second Olympics, and got the silver in the 2016 All-Around.
So, okay, I’m not an elite level athlete, but there were so many lessons I took from this moment alone. In all the experiences I have in life, when I know what I want, I can’t give up. When I know my hard work deserves the best, I’m going to go for the best.
Another award-winning moment of Raisman’s happens to take place in an interview with “People” magazine. In the interview, she discusses how she is coping with the stress and recovery of the Nassar case. Towards the end, she is asked about another comeback for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Now, this answer was completely different than the other times she was asked. In other interviews she said, “yes,” but now other factors have come into play.
In her “People” interview, she explained that she loves the sport of Gymnastics and she’s been to two Olympics, but she’s not sure. Since USA Gymnastics is currently under investigation and is being completely re-structured, her first priority is helping the other survivors first. You may be reading this thinking, “so what? She wants to help others,” or “Who cares if she retires,” the picture is much bigger.
Aly Raisman shows us all that, you can be the best there is and still be taken advantage of; it is your “What’s Next?” phase that is more important. This is a World-Class athlete that is willing to put her passion aside to help others; in addition, she understands and accepts that an organization isn’t healthy for her. No matter what jobs or activities we take part in, we must learn and understand when to go. Leaving is the biggest heartbreak, but it is putting forward what you are meant to do that is important.
Being a leader has its trials and tribulations, but we all can learn from Aly Raisman’s grace and dignity. When you are close to a lifelong dream, fight for it. If an organization is taking advantage of how great you are in the most negative aspect, leave and find something even better! We all have an inner leader, let’s unleash it into the world.