I was reminded this morning (yet again) of the power of our work, the power of persistence, and the power of setting goals.
Far better than a cup of coffee, this morning I was fortunate enough to have an amazing conversation and coaching session with an inspirational person and my new hero: Wang JiaChao.
Wang JiaChao was born in a small village in Yunnan province here in China. At the age of five, he suffered an accident at the site of a local power transformer that left him without the use of his left arm. His arm was removed from his body and to this day he only has his right arm.
As a boy, he joined the swim team, and quickly became one of the best swimmers in Yunnan. He rose to become among the top para-Olympic swimmers in the country and won bronze medals at the Athens, Beijing, and London Olympics. Not satisfied, he decided to try his hand at triathlons - after training for years he won the Chinese open triathlon competition (for able- bodied people!) and also was named Champion of the Asian Para-Olympic Triathlon.
During the time of his training and Olympic competitions, he also graduated from university and completed his graduate studies.
Working with him this morning on refining his pitch and narrative structure, I was reminded yet again at the power of our storytelling and of our work at LearningLeaders. The power of storytelling is necessary for JiaChao to raise money to continue his training and eventually make it to Tokyo in 2020.
Of course, there were many lessons to be learned and gleaned from his experiences, such as the necessity of hard work and discipline to become a champion at anything, the willingness to fight back once you face challenges, and the value of support and encouragement from friends, families, and coaches.
More striking for me, though, was a focus on setting higher and higher goals throughout his journey: first to become active, then to become a national swimmer, then to go to the Olympics, then to medal, then to medal higher, then to try a new event, and eventually win the gold medal in the triathlon at the Para-Olympics, his current goal.
The cliche is so true: watching someone who wasn’t given the same opportunities as you, or someone who had something ripped away from them, be successful - it is radically inspiring.