It often seems that societal norms tell us to take the job that rewards us financially rather than the one that makes us happy. In the 2012 Olympics, we learn from one very special woman that there is something to be said for the pursuit of happiness and how doing what makes you feel good on the inside can lead to success on the outside. Her name is Missy Franklin.
Missy Franklin’s path to the Olympics can be regarded as an instance of taking the road less traveled—in this case by not traveling—by staying at home. From a very young age, it was clear that she was a very talented swimmer. The typical path for a swimmer of her stature was to move to a part of a country known for producing swimming gold medalists, like Florida or California. Despite outside pressures, Missy chose to train in her hometown in Colorado with the coach she has had since the first day she walked into a Colorado swimming club at the age of 7. In a TV interview, she noted that had she uprooted herself from friends and family in favor of the traditional training route, she would not have been happy and ultimately not the athlete she is today.
Another example of Missy taking the unconventional path to success was in her refusal to specialize in a single stroke. As a result, she was able to qualify for seven events in London, two of them very different, backstroke and freestyle. Once again, she defied the conventional path, did what felt good to her, and wound up winning 1 bronze medal and 4 golds.
We can all take a lesson from Missy. She teaches us that happiness is a part of success in this life. That if we stay true to who we are and do the things that we love to do, then great things can happen. On paper, it seems a bit fluffy and too good to be true, but when we look at four-time gold-medalist Missy Franklin, we know there’s something to that theory.
Stacy Slawitsky turned to yoga and mindfulness as a means to relieve the stress of a demanding job at a Big 4 Accounting Firm. Her passion to share the benefits of these practices with others led her to start ZenConnect. She conducts stress management programs for companies throughout the Boston area.