I pushed the enormous rocking chair across the lime-green shag carpet. This would be the last piece of furniture I would need to complete my own Olympic podium. I had just watched Olympic Gymnastics Champion Nadia Comaneci stand on top of the real deal, and I wanted to see how it felt.
I slowly climbed onto the wobbly rocking chair, my pigtails swooshing back and forth. Occasionally a few hairs would catch on my eyelashes and I would pull the strands away from my face so I could continue on my mission. I calculated the chair's rhythm, carefully threw my leg over the back and slowly climbed up onto the lacquered old end table. I pushed myself to my feet and threw my fists toward the ceiling in victory. A huge smile broke across my freckled face as I imagined the crowds cheering around me and the camera bulbs going off left and right. I had my answer. It felt incredible!
My mother and father came in from the family room to see what the commotion was. I beamed down at them and stated with confidence, "I'm going to win the 'lympics!"
Now, I think most parents would be a bit leery of giving their five-year-old daughter any genuine encouragement for this giant undertaking, especially seeing that, in all likelihood, she had a better chance of winning the lottery than the Olympics someday. But my parents never flinched. I never saw any reservation on their faces when I declared my goal.
My mom lifted me off the "podium," plopped me down on the plaid easy chair and said, "Well, then I guess it's time for me to teach you about the Turtle Effect."
At the time, this meant little more to me than a chance to potentially hit them up for a pet turtle at Dom's local pet store. But I realized that if I was going to turn those living room chairs and table into a real Olympic podium, I had to learn what this Turtle Effect really meant.
She explained to me that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to be soft on the inside, I had to have a hard shell, and I had to be willing to stick my neck out.
To have a soft inside, I would need a passion for my pursuits. To build a hard shell, I'd have to focus on the task at hand, completely commit to my goals, and develop the ability to overcome any adversity that was thrown my way. And in order to stick my neck out, I'd have to have confidence, take substantial risks, and be a team player in order to succeed. Those seven lessons were key in mastering the Turtle Effect.
As I grew and developed through my years in gymnastics, and eventually, aerial freestyle skiing, I found my mom's advice invaluable. But it wasn't just her words about the Turtle Effect that helped me to become an Olympic champion. It was putting them into action, and experiencing challenges and pitfalls that would eventually help me understand the true depth of their power. Later, I found that by explaining these ideas to others, though motivational speeches, I could help many individuals accomplish their goals.
Galvanized by the possibilities, I decided to create a book that would offer people many profound and amazing stories for motivation, as well as hands-on activities to help them make changes themselves. I sat down and put together a list of people whose lives I found to be truly inspiring, and who'd worked hard to reach the top of their "game". I included accomplished businessmen and women, athletes, politicians, celebrities, authors, Nobel Prize winners, musicians and philanthropists. In telling their stories, these individuals, many of whom I've come to know, all shared a part of the Turtle Effect that helped them find their own success. To continue the inspiration, I've included one more special bonus story online that you can view at www.WhenTurtlesFly.com.
Each story is followed by a daily activity that has proved successful at my coaching sessions in changing people's lives in a concrete way, exercises you can use to improve your own personal and professional life. They serve as hands-on tools to help you enhance and develop your passion, focus, commitment, ability to overcome adversity, risk taking, and team building. From my years of experience as an athlete, speaker and peak performance coach, and by studying the habits of many powerful individuals I've encountered, I've come up with highly effective steps to encourage advancement in any career. Each activity includes blank space for you to keep notes on your own transformation.
Whether I'm mentoring future Olympic medalists, motivating hotshot businesspeople, or coaching eager young professionals, I find the Turtle Effect works brilliantly to help people reach success.
It's never too late or too early to pursue your dreams, and you're never too successful to work toward new goals. So get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
Get ready to fly!
N.B. The above is an excerpt from the book When Turtles Fly: Secrets of Successful People Who Know How To Stick Their Necks Out by Nikki Stone. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.