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What Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan’s Story Teaches About Champions

I started off the week by reading Skating for the Gold, a mixed biography of figure skating legends Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan. And ever since then, I’ve fallen in love with both figures, Tara Lipinski especially.

Tara Lipinski is the youngest person ever to win the Figure Skating World title, at the age of 14, and also the youngest person ever to win the Olympic gold medal in the individual ladies’ singles event, at the age of 15.

I learnt several lessons from reading Skating for the Gold from the lives of Tara and Michelle. The most prominent of these lessons being the fact that, as Ologundudu Abraham would have it in his book succinctly titled Lead your Life, “success is not overnight but overtime”.

Working hand-in-hand with this saying is another more famous saying that a drop of water makes a mighty ocean.

Anywhere, any day, champions are not made in an instant, neither are they made overnight. Every champion I’ve seen in whichever field is made over a long period through timely, steady effort. This is a necessary trend with a potential of continuing forever

For 1982 born Tara Lipinski, being the youngest World Skating Champion at 14 meant being a skater as early as age 3! Tara started roller skating at the age of 3 and at the age of 6 she started ice skating and has since then been engaged in untiring, rigorous training with pro coaches. While other children are all around running after toys cars, Tara was developing herself for the Gold.

That’s a testimony to success being a timely journey. You don’t do it in a hurry. It requires persistence and handwork.

Also, Chip Lovett, the author of Skating for the Gold recorded that skating lessons and training costs so much, even for young Tara, that some costumes sell for as much as $600! Chip didn’t record significant figures for Tara but for Michelle’s case, he recorded that to keep up with the training fees, her parents had to sell a house for $335,000 and by the time they are done paying all their daughter’s debts and bills they had just $600 left.

This is testimony to success being a demanding journey. It requires time and resources.

Countless other figures can be mentioned, whose names are on millions of lips and might seem to people to have gotten to the peak in an instant but when they are presented to tell their stories they tell stories of struggle and sacrifice over a long period of time.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a sensation to be reckoned with on the internet and in the business world today, but it all started more than 20 years ago when over a period of 5 years he grew his family wine business from a $3M to a $60M business.

Rome was not built in a day, if you’ll want to build an empire for yourself and leave a lasting legacy in whatever field you are you have to learn the art of following steady succession of short but significant steps.

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