Washington Post Question: Speedskater Simon Cho: Single-minded or misguided? Is it wise when athletes pursue success at the expense of their educations? Simon Cho dropped out of high school to train as a short-track speed skater, and his father sold his business to pay the bills. The teenager ended up surprising everyone — including himself — by making the U.S. Olympic team. Is tunnel vision a good thing in pursuit of such a demanding goal? Are extreme sacrifices necessary, or foolish?
Dawna Markova said, “Living on purpose requires us to find what we love fiercely, give it all we`ve got, and then pass it on, as if it were a torch, to those who follow.”
Simon and his family took a big risk in pursuit of his passion, trusting all would work out exactly as it should. This type of sacrifice is more than merely necessary for such success; it is inspiring.
Some people never find that thing that lights them up so much they can hardly wait to get out of bed to go do it. Perhaps some have seen a glimpse of it, and instead of taking the risk and going for it, many stay comfortable in doing the thing they`ve always done, or the thing society deems most important.
While I am strong believer in education, I also know the importance of trusting in our gut. Simon and his family clearly knew, deep down, this was the right decision for right now. Selling your business, pulling your child out of high school and moving your family around to support this dream was a big risk. So too was moving their family into the United States illegally.
Almost a year ago, I was set to complete my second book, which is aimed at helping young professionals acclimate to the workforce. Just before publishing my first book, “From Boomers to Bloggers,” I pulled half the material and put it into a separate document.
Knowing I could take that material and create a second book, I eagerly packed my car and headed out of town for a writing retreat. I knew I could complete most of the book in four days and get it off to my editors, having a second book ready for publication within a couple months. Doing so would add greatly to my credibility and provide valuable information to young professionals.
Excited to write, I jumped out of bed the first morning, threw on my sweater and headed down the stairs to begin my writing for the day. Three hours later, I stopped to read what I had written. It was clear — the furthest thing from my mind and heart was the young pro book.
Over the last year, my book has become a memoir, transforming my life and setting me in a new direction. If I held tightly to what I thought I was supposed to write, and ignored my gut, I would not have this inner awareness and trust I have today. My next book will go to the publisher within this year, and who knows where it will take my speaking/writing career.
Much the same as the Cho family, I trust it will take me to the stage of my dreams. Instead of holding an Olympic gold metal, maybe, just maybe, I will earn the international best-seller and award-winning author title I`ve dreamed of.
Members of the Cho family are clearly smart risk-takers, who set their eyes on their goals and make it happen. The only time such sacrifices are foolish are when they are not in conjunction with a clear vision. When we know, we know. When we think we know, we have more thinking to do. The Cho family knew.
Offered with Respect,
Misti Burmeister, Washington Post best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers