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What I Learnt About Resilience From Interviewing Anna Meares

When I had first thought of starting my own business many years ago (a women’s online mentoring site), I was bold enough to reach out to a few inspiration women to interview them. Anna Meares was one of them, and I couldn’t believe she said ‘Yes’. So I actually got to meet her, sit down with her and interview her. I took her a bunch of flowers at the time, and she said “this is the first time someone’s given me flowers.”  that’s how long ago it was!

Anyway, if you ever feel as though the odds are against you, or have a setback at work that throws you off course, you might draw inspiration and learn some lessons for building mental resilience from Anna’s story.

Anna developed a passion for competitive track cycling at the age of 11. By the time she was 20, she was the youngest and first Australian female cyclist to represent Australia on the track to win Olympic Gold at Athens. As well as breaking records, achieving Gold and Silver at various World Championships, winning Gold at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, and Silver at the Beijing Olympics, Anna has also been awarded the Order of Australia Medal to name some of her accomplishments.

On the face of it you could easily say that Anna has had a dream run. However, a life changing experience provided a significant contract 7 months out from the Beijing Olympics, when she suffered a near fatal crash at the Los Angeles World Cup. She fractured her C2 vertebra (second down from the skull), dislocated her right shoulder, suffered torn ligaments and tendons, a heavily bruised right hip and severe skin abrasions when she crashed doing 65km/h. When she tried to step onto her bike again, she couldn’t pedal properly. Lack of time in the gym then meant she dropped considerable muscle. However, within 7 months of the accident, Anna won Silver at the Beijing Olympics.

So what does it take to overcome such odds.

  1. Anna ensures she surrounds herself with positive energy, rather than people are are feeling anxious.
  2. Fun plays a key role, so her team mates used to come together to play playstation, and she tries to surround herself with laughter and fun which has the effect of relaxing her mind and body, she refers to this as ‘the art of happy distraction’.
  3. She has learnt to turn the page and move forward.
  4. She’s also learnt not to linger on limiting thoughts and allow them to shape your future.

At the time I met Anna, she said that these were her four sources of inspiration:

  • A Babe Ruth quote “swing at curve balls
  • Her first coach who taught her that it’s the attention to details that makes the difference
  • Martin Barassi’s expression “Back yourself
  • Another quote she lives by “Focus on your path, not the other person

Love these, and they are so relevant to each and every one of us to get back up and get on with life.

(Remember to get your copy of Careers Awakening: How To Align Your Career With Your Soul Purpose here.)