Now back to Rio for a lesson in self-belief

As the dust settles on the hugely successful Rio Olympics, all eyes now turn to the Paralympians who will be aiming to emulate their able bodied counterparts in bringing home a haul of medals for their respective nations. The Paralympic Games serve as a true spectacle of human grit and determination, where the majority of athletes have had to overcome huge amounts of adversity on their journey to the Maracanã.

Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at two years old, it would be easy to forgive Team Ireland’s world record holding, double gold medallist from the London 2012 Paralympics, Michael McKillop, for accepting his condition as a disability and letting it limit his potential. Instead, in the words of his father, Michael and close friend (and fellow Team Ireland gold medal winner in London), Jason Smyth will not let this dictate their future. “Neither of them sees their disabilities, just their abilities. They both compete in able bodied athletics to push themselves even further and they’re both fighters.”

The self-belief that McKillop displays today can be traced back to his earlier years, when his father Paddy, a PE teacher who happened to coach the school athletics team where Michael was a student, would make him compete with all the other boys, despite his disability. If he wanted to make the team, he had to earn his place. Growing up and understanding that a disability does not have to hold you back from everyone else gave Michael a determination and confidence that can be seen in his actions both on and off the sports field today.

When he is not putting in the hours on the track, he works as an Athlete Mentor promoting Paralympic sports in schools across Ireland. By spending time working with the future stars of Irish athletics, McKillop is communicating a real-life case in point of how determination, hard work and self-belief can help you to reach the highest heights, regardless of where you start from.

The lessons that can be taken from Michael’s journey to the top, along with the stories of countless other Paralympians, reach much further than the sporting arena. In every other walk of life, self-belief is one of the key factors in determining a person’s success, or lack of it. We can all have those days where we feel the world is against us and getting where we want to be seems too great a challenge, but if you really look at it, it all starts with convincing one person that you are capable of it and truly deserve it…. Yourself.

Once you convince yourself that anything can be achieved, it becomes a lot easier to set out on the path to making it happen. As a sales person, if you are having a bad day, week, or even month of sales, the natural tendency for a lot of people is to allow that to manifest in your head as ‘I’m not cut out for this’ / ‘this isn’t the right job for me’ / ‘I could achieve it if only X, Y and Z were different’.

If you take a step back and look at this from an external perspective, it is soon clear that you are succumbing to self-doubt and are making excuses, rather than putting your head down and making progress. Your goal may not be reached today, this week or even this year, but if you believe that you can achieve it and do not divert from that assumption, it will happen in the end.

If a young lad who has coped with Cerebral Palsy for most of his life can defy the odds and become a world record holding, gold medal winning Paralympian and one of the poster boys of Irish athletics, what excuse is holding you back from achieving your potential?

Here at C3, self-belief means a great deal. As a young business we have certainly faced many challenges and setbacks over the years, but what has helped us overcome each of these is a constant belief that we are making progress and moving the business in the right direction and always in line with our core values of honesty, fairness, respect and integrity. So, whether you are a Paralympian aiming for gold, a salesperson aiming to move your career to the next stage, a business owner looking to grow or a young kid aiming to make the athletics team, the first hurdle you must overcome is your own self-doubt. For those elite athletes on their way to Rio and those who have recently returned, they all share one very powerful trait– to them, self-belief is a way of life.

Best of luck Michael and the rest of Team Ireland!

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