“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” ~ Sophia Loren
Recently I attended the Pennsylvania Conference for Women and got to hear Marion Jones speak. Marion Jones is the famed Olympic track star and one-time “Fastest Woman in the World” who had her 5 gold medals stripped and spent 6 months in jail after lying to a Federal grand jury about her use of performance-enhancing drugs.
While it may seem that someone who has had such a public fall from grace would never be able to get back up, Marion Jones has pulled together the pieces of her life to travel the world and share her mistakes in hopes to deter other people from following in her footsteps.
Listening to her story made me realize that life is full of mistakes and that it is not our job to avoid these missteps but to survive them. Looking back on my own life, there are many mistakes I wish I could take back. Like not going to London for grad school. At the time it seemed like I would never get over not going, however that mistake has been a blessing in disguise.
So often we feel that when we fall down we must stay down. However, it is in that moment when we feel we can’t recover that we must search deep for the strength to get back up. Here are 5 lessons we can learn from Marion on making mistakes and learning to get back up.
1. Surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart
Marion’s career was under the watch of her coach, her then husband and her hanger-ons. She put trust in them and they are some of the same people who had a part in her taking performance-enhancing drugs.
The blame is on Marion and she finally took responsibility and understood that people who want to use you will allow you to make mistakes for their benefit. Surrounding yourself with people who want NOTHING but the BEST for you is beyond imperative in creating a safe environment that doesn’t enable negative behavior.
2. Take a Break
In her talk, Marion says that she wishes she had only taken a break. She was furiously training and going non-stop. She poignantly recalled the day she was being investigated and instead of taking time to get her thoughts together, she simply lied.
Had she taken a moment, sought counsel, she could have potentially avoided the ordeal. In life where we are all going at lightening speed, slowing down will stop us from heading for an avoidable crash.
3. Know in your heart that it will get better
I can’t possibly imagine what it’s like to spend 49 days in solitary confinement or to be away from my three children. Marion Jones does. She lived it and survived. While these were extremely trying times, she knew in her heart that it would not last forever.
When we make mistakes, we must know that things WILL get better. When we make mistakes it may seem like there is no light, but as I like to believe, “You have to go through it to get to the other side.”
4. Seek support
Echoing number 1, seeking support of the family and friends that truly love you will take some of the weight off of your shoulders. While we all may not go to prison, we make little mistakes and sometimes feel like we have nowhere to turn.
Seek solace in your mother. Go to your best friend and get permission to vent. Seek the support of God. No matter how big the blunder your closest confidantes will have your back.
5. Pay your lessons forward
Instead of retreating to obscurity, Marion Jones is telling her story in hopes that young people won’t succumb to the same pitfalls. She travels to high schools and youth programs telling her story and reliving it daily. She said that there is not a day that goes by that she doesn’t wish things had been different, but then she wouldn’t be the person she has become.
She has gone on to play professional basketball, write a book and be a mother to her children. She is paying her lessons forward and showing that even though we make mistakes we must get back up and move on.
What mistakes have you made that you’ve been able to move on from?