Simone Biles is a role model for everyone who watches her or is fortunate enough to meet her. And there are probably hundreds of things we can learn from this amazing athlete and exceptional human being—but here are 12 that resonated.
Preparation is key. In the days leading up to her Olympic competition, Simone was calm, soothing her mom via video chat with a simple, “Mom, I’m ready.” The years of training under her belt, Simone knew that she had done all she could to arrive at this moment and that anxiety about how the performance would go would not be useful in her achieving her best.
Choice is vital in achieving high goals. As much as a parent or a coach may want it, the athlete must be the one who is ultimately making the choice to train. “You have to choose to do it,” Simone advised young fans who are chasing big dreams.
Hard work and fun are a winning combination. Working hard is often cited in the recipe for success, but fun is often left out. Yet we know that 70% of kids quit sports before they are teens citing the number one reason: it was no longer fun. Simone is on to this: “Always work hard and have fun in what you do because I think that’s when you’re more successful,” Simone said.
Enjoy the journey. It’s easy to get caught up in the results, but the journey is what matters. Reflecting on her Olympic quest, “It’s been a long journey. I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it.”
Understand what “disappointment” is and is not. “I’m not disappointed in the medal that I received because anyone would love to have a bronze at an Olympics Games,” Biles stated. “But I’m disappointed in the routine that I did and not so much the whole entire routine, just the front tuck I guess. Because the rest of the routine was pretty good.”
You are enough. Don’t let people define who you are. After winning individual gold in the women’s gymnastics all-around Simone had perhaps the best media retort of the 2016 Olympics: “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps,” she said. “I’m the first Simone Biles.”
Be humble. Did winning five Olympic medals change how Simone thinks of herself? Nope. She humbly says, “I’m just normal. For other kids I’m a role model. It’s very inspiring. It makes me so happy. To me I’m not the best. There were other greats that came before me,” she says.
You are not your accomplishments. After winning her second Olympic gold, Simone told The New York Times, “I’m just the same Simone. I just have two Olympic gold medals now. I feel the same.”
You get to make the choice of what is next. The pressing question on many a reporters’ lips: What about 2020 for Simone? Simone refuses to take the bait, reminding everyone that she will make that decision in time, but first she is going to have some fun, try some new things and spend time with family and friends.
Be happy for the accomplishments of others’. Being fiercely competitive and a loyal friend who is happy for others’ success are not mutually exclusive traits. Simone is a perfect role model of this concept—thrilled for her teammates as well as other gymnasts’ performances. Simone was “more proud” of Aly and “more happy for her” than for herself when Aly won the silver in the All Around.
You don’t have to engage with those who try to bring you down. When commentator Al Trautwig tweeted that Simone’s parents are not her parents (apparently because he doesn’t understand the concept of adoption…or much about gymnastics but I digress…). Her response was a perfect eight words: “My parents are my parents and that’s it.” When called the “next Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt,” her response was a simple “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.” And when a Brazilian reporter asked Simone for a kiss at the end of an interview, she “looked suitably horrified and walked off.”
Having strong relationships and being grateful for those people is the key to happiness. Simone is a happy person. She is also a grateful one. From crediting Marta Karolyi and Aimee Boorman to her teammates, parents, friends and fans. Simone is constantly giving credit to those who helped her in her journey. Even before she was an Olympian.
Simone, you may think that you are a role model to all the young girls who look up to you; but you are also a role model to all of us! Thank you!