Simone Biles just rewrote the record books this weekend. She’s truly in a class by herself, yet the very first thing she asked her teammate after pulling off the first-ever triple-double in a floor exercise was this: “Was I out?”
Even after pulling off something that no man nor woman has ever done in gymnastics history in landing a triple-double, she did not allow herself to relish in it. She knew she was close to the line, yet she waited until she knew for certain before relishing in the moment.
It’s hard to put into words the feat she actually accomplished. We fawn when the great Lebron James does a 360° windmill dunk... and that, my friends, is only one turn, just one. And so this morning’s reflection post isn't even about the greatness of Simone Biles, Lebron James, Beyoncé, Bill Gates, Billy Graham or others that have been on my mind lately. This is about the statement of a competitor of highest regard — This is about the drive that is so hard to put into words, yet Simone did just that when she simply asked, "Was I out?"
This is about that thin line that separates perfection and what’s out of bounds. Specifically, how the entrepreneur and many key leaders’ margin for error is often very small when attempting something significantly great. Why try? Why push yourself? Simone is just an incredible example to all of us. Whether you are an entrepreneur, leader, athlete, or a kid currently practicing in the gym, or politician who fights for what is right and pushes for the best, we’re never satisfied with our last success.
Simone Biles could have simply basked in the history she made on Friday, making history as the first gymnast to ever attempt and land a double-double dismount from the beam. In continuing to push for the seemingly impossible, we can all learn that life is more than just winning or being comfortable. The great leaders and innovators of the past were never satisfied with the status quo. Just asking the question, “Was I out?” defined her attitude because she was going to win either way, yet she still took the risk.
Innovators are the people willing to take a risk and attempt something that has the likelihood for them to land out of bounds. With the exceptional speed, force, and reach Simone needed to pull off a triple-double, she was always going to land close to that out of bound mark. What risks are we willing to take in our lives for us to make positive change? What risks will we take when our results have the potential to land us out of bounds? That’s the question I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately. How many entrepreneurs are pushing the envelope for the better vs being comfortable having enough?
I really don't have an answer, but I'm inspired. Thank you, Simone Biles. As I reflect, I'm encouraged to keep pushing for what I believe will help shape the future of learning and empower growth across the globe, even if it means I'll often land very close to out of bounds.
Also, thank you for how you responded on Friday in the face of adversity because it’s a testimony to us all. The line is so small, on one hand we want to give up and throw in the towel, and on the other hand, we must pursue what will change the world. Simone’s words echoed again on Friday, after almost landing on her head in a failed triple-double floor exercise attempt.
“Honestly as soon as I fell on the floor, I was like, that’s it I’m scratching the meet, I’m walking off the floor. On my last pass I felt like I had tears in my eyes and that’s the only time I truly felt sorry for myself in a real long time, but you have to keep the momentum going. “Mistakes will happen, it’s the hardest field in the world. … It’s just so annoying because I’ve never [fallen forward on the triple-double] in the gym, so I had a lot more adrenaline than I wanted. I’ll come back Sunday and hopefully it’ll go better.”
And on Sunday, it did. Her failed Friday also helped contribute to that acute awareness to lift her foot after landing the impossible to ensure she didn’t actually step out of bounds. Now, with that in the books… look out Tokyo.
In business and life, we are going to face real setbacks from time to time, some of our ideas are going to land flat, or flat out fail, but it's how we learn from them and move forward that matters. Some of the best entrepreneurs, even Mark Cuban, are known mainly for their greatest successes, but if you talk to them, those successes were often motivated by their greatest failures.
So, don't stop striving for greatness and asking the question, "Was I out?"