If I had a dollar for every time a woman said to me she isn’t “very sporty” or isn’t very good at sports, I’d be writing this in a deck chair with a lime margarita in the Cook Islands rather than my home office with a coffee on a Saturday afternoon 🙂
When I ask a few more questions and dig a little deeper to find out where this perception (or story) comes from, I often find that the woman wasn’t (or thought she wasn’t) very good at sports or didn’t enjoy sports as a child (and possibly even did everything she could to avoid sport) and has carried that perception of herself into adult life.
Do you know someone who shares that experience?
This was one of the initial reasons I wanted to interview today’s guest on Sparta Chicks Radio; she failed PE at school and (by her own admission) “opted out” of sports from her pre-teen years all the way through to her mid-30s.
When I was preparing for this interview, I knew (or at least I thought) I wanted to go deeper on this topic to explore how it shaped her as a person because I know many women who share this experience.
But as the interview progressed, I found myself quickly moving through that section of her story and diving deeper into her more recent achievements and the athlete, woman and mother she is today.
Masha Gordon may have “opted-out” of sport for 20 years until her mid-30s but it certainly hasn’t stopped her.
In just 6 years since first venturing out for a hike while on maternity leave with her second child, she now holds two world records; for the fastest ascent of the Seven Summits (the highest mountain on each of the seven continents) by a woman and the fastest Adventurer’s Grand Slam (the Seven Summits plus the North and South Pole) by a woman.
She reminded me of two things:
(1) That we get to choose the stories we tell ourselves. We are not defined or limited by our past.
Sure, you may not have been particularly good at sports as a child. But that’s no reason why you shouldn’t explore your interests as an adult or listen to that little curious voice that wonders “I’d love to try that…”.
(2) That everything you’ve been through in your life to this point has made you the woman and athlete you are today — and you can draw on all of those experiences.
From the long hours at work, the sleepless nights as a parent to keeping your cool during a stressful situation with your family or at work are all skills you can use and draw on during your sport and your adventures.
We tend to limit our thinking to the physical attributes you need to achieve your goals (the fitness, strength, speed etc) and forget all the other attributes we’ve developed, skills you’ve honed and challenges you’ve overcome throughout your life which you can draw on and use.
In this interview, we discuss:
* the importance of surrounding yourself with people who celebrate your little wins and success;
* the challenges she faced, including breaking her wrist only 5 days after announcing to the world she was going to attempt to break the World Record and pulling a sled equal to her bodyweight to the North and South Pole,
* mothers (or parents) guilt, and
* the need to improve the confidence of teenage girls and why equality in the workforce is unlikely to be achieved until the self-confidence gap between teenage boys and girls is addressed. And you’ll be stunned when you hear the statistics.
Notes and resources:
At the time this interview is published (April, 2017), Masha is currently in Nepal attempting to summit Makalu, the 5th highest mountain in the world. If she achieves her objective, Masha will become the 1st Russian woman to do so (to put Makalu in perspective, only about 400 climbers have stood on its summit - vs over 5,000 on Everest - and of those 400, only 30 women). Follow Masha's expedition this month on Instagram.