Step Up and Deliver

What Gymnastics Taught Me About Performing Under Pressure

Photo: Erin Costa

This is a three part series on what gymnastics taught me about acquiring and mastering skillsovercoming fear and delivering clutch performances.

Gymnastics is a sport about delivering under pressure. Even though you can make it a team sport by aggregating scores and swapping out players, there is actually not interaction between your teammates outside of them cheering for you and helping you prepare for your performance, or even between you and your competition.

When you raise your hand and salute before your routine, it is all on you.

There is usually nothing else for the … Read the rest

How to be Relentlessly Resourceful

A practical guide for would-be founders

Relentlessly resourceful.

This is the essential quality of a good startup founder according to Paul Graham, cofounder of Y Combinator. When asked by Forbes what he looks for in founders, four out of the five elements relate to resourcefulness. He’s written two essays (Relentlessly Resourceful & A Word to the Resourceful) dedicated to the concept.

And yet people don’t seem to really understand what being resourceful means. The top comment on HN from his most recent post posed this question:

Yes, there are certain skills that make it easier to find information on your own. But this is

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Great by Choice

The surprising lessons of how tech startups succeed over the long term

Summary: Great by Choice describes the results of a deep investigation into how young companies can survive and thrive in chaotic, turbulent environments to achieve spectacular results. The book is of great value startups and entrepreneurs seeking to build enduringly great companies. In this blog post, I look at how his concepts of fanatical discipline, productive paranoia, and empirical creativity apply to building a startup that succeeds over the long-term [1].

Introduction

I just finished reading Jim Collins’ new book Great by Choice: Uncertainty Chaos and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All (GBC from here on out). GBC is the … Read the rest

How to Give Your Product Personality

Making a brand feel alive

There’s a really great post on Fred Wilson’s blog (AVC) about building a “Minimum Viable Personality“. Of course, this is a play on the concept “Minimum Viable Product” from the Lean Startup movement. Fittingly, the post is written by @FAKEGRIMLOCK, a Twitter handle with a lot of personality himself, in his signature tone: “resembling cliched caveman speech”.

(If haven’t read the post yet, you might want to go open it up in a new tab and read it before coming back here. If you’re short on time, the post can be summarized as:

MOST IMPORTANT

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Taking Cold Showers

This post is about why you might want to start taking cold showers.

I’ve been doing it for over a month now and I really like it.

The seed was planted in my mind after reading an article about it on a blog called Getting Stronger. The thesis behind Getting Stronger is that rather than damaging you, that stress can, in the right conditions, make you stronger by forcing you to adapt and thrive under tougher conditions. It’s an interesting premise and one I can easily get behind.

By the way, I love taking really hot showers and hate being … Read the rest

How Gymnastics Taught Me to Buck Up, Get Tough and Crush Fear

Practical tips for overcoming your fears

Photo: Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics

This is a three part series on what gymnastics taught me about acquiring and mastering skillsovercoming fear and delivering clutch performances.

I think most gymnasts consider pain and fear our twin companions. I certainly did. Gymnastics requires that athletes constantly challenge themselves to do more, much more. Routines that were performed in the Olympics in 2000 are being done by 15 year-olds in 2011. To learn new skills, you have to put yourself in scary situations.

One of the most important characteristics of a great gymnast is the ability to overcome fear and … Read the rest

What Gymnastics Taught Me About Acquiring and Mastering Skills

How deliberate practice works in sports

This is a three part series on what gymnastics taught me about acquiring and mastering skillsovercoming fear and delivering clutch performances.

In 1996, Men’s Health published an article where they used some ridiculous mathematical formula using variables such as fitness, skill, pain, brains, etc to figure out the toughest sport in the world. And gymnastics came up number one. Here’s what they said:

Male gymnasts may wear tights, but they score perfect 10’s for fitness and athletic skills, and near-perfect marks for injury potential, mental toughness and difficult conditions. Let’s see you spin in circles on the high

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Part 3 (Finale): How I Blew Out My Knee and Came Back to Win a National Championship

This is the part three in a three-part series about the knee injury that changed my life and my road to an NCAA championship. In part two I talked about the physical therapy I did to recover from my knee injury, the return to competition and our team’s devastating loss to Oklahoma on home turf in 2008. Here’s how the story ends.

1. Channeling the pain

When you’re going for gold, getting silver really does feel like being the first loser.

I kept this picture of me in a Diamodov mid-fall above my desk for an entire year to remind … Read the rest

How I Blew Out My Knee and Came Back to Win a National Championship (Part 2 of 3)

This is the part two in a three-part series about the knee injury that changed my life and my road to an NCAA championship. In part one I talked about growing up as a gymnast, learning the Yurchenko double full, blowing out my knee and undergoing my first major surgery. Here’s what happened next.

PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE

1. Try to make me go to rehab

My 21st birthday. Got quite inebriated and still managed to make it all the way home and up a flight of stairs on crutches without stumbling even once.

I ended … Read the rest

How I Blew Out My Knee and Came Back to Win a National Championship

Today (January 19th) is the four year anniversary of the knee injury that changed my life. Most people I know have heard bits and pieces, and finally I’m putting the whole thing together in one place. This story is for every anyone (athlete or not) who’s struggled with an injury – yeah it sucks big time, but do ALL your physical therapy and be unreasonably optimistic. Things can and will get better.

The Synopsis

On January 19th, 2007, while competing for Stanford Men’s Gymnastics at the UC Berkeley, I suffered a total knee dislocation while performing a double-twisting Yurchenko. My ACL, … Read the rest