9 to 5ish: Nastia Liukin

Published on: Jul 28, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are underway. And as we all started cheering for the athletes on our TV screens, it got us thinking about winning - and losing - at work. Maybe you got that promotion. Or maybe your long-time project wasn’t a success. How should we navigate the ups and downs? To find out, we called up an expert: 2008 Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin. She’s had some high highs (hello, gold medal)...and also some low lows (injuries, falls, and haters). 

On Blocking Out External Noise

Nastia: When I won the Olympics, that’s kind of the moment that I was like, "Okay, if I can win the Olympics when pretty much all odds were against me," in the sense of no one thought that I could do it. I was too old. I was too injured. I was washed up. I was too weak. I was too skinny. I was too everything except for too good. And when that happened, I was like, "Okay, if you are able to do that, then you have no limits to achieve the things that you want to achieve."

On Learning From Failure

Nastia: So competing at the Olympic trials [in 2012], I was on my very best event, which was the uneven bars. And I fell flat on my face. I was doing a release move and I didn't catch the bar. And I remember literally laying there, completely flat and being confused. First of all, I'm supposed to be on the bar, finishing my routine. And then when I quickly kind of realized everything that happened and all the steps that would also now follow this, I was so embarrassed. I was so mortified.

…. And I knew that I was not making that Olympic team. There was absolutely no way that I was going to make that team. And so I was like, "The only thing that I can do here is at least finish on my own terms." And so I got back up and I finished my routine and landed on my feet on my dismount. And for the very first time in my life and career, I had a standing ovation for the worst routine of my entire life and career. 

And so that moment that I had at the Olympic trials...taught me so many things. You will never be defined by a placement, a gold medal, a job title, a salary, a relationship, anything that you do in life. You will never be defined by any of those moments. You will be remembered and hopefully more so defined by just the person that you are and your heart and your character and not giving up.

Skimm'd by Alex Carr and Andrew Callaway.


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