Why Athletes Understand Opportunity Better Than Anyone

By Abigail Gibbons

Throughout my time as a swimmer in college, I always remember walking over to my coach after completing a race where I did not perform my best and his look of frustration – “Each time you get out there to race, you have an opportunity. You need to take advantage of it.” 


Little did I know this advice would stick with me throughout the rest of my life, as I transition from an athlete to corporate-professional, and from a corporate-professional to entrepreneur. Opportunity, by definition, is a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.


Opportunity, I believe, is the single most important lesson we learn as competitive athletes that sets us apart from others. After years of training, learning hard work, dedication, leadership, and countless other traits, this lesson of taking advantage of opportunity stays with me the most. It reminds me to capitalize on the chances life presents to me each day. 


I hear it buzzing around in my head, on any day and at any moment, this word “opportunity.” I could be sitting at my desk surrounded by my coworkers and the noise of Manhattan, at a workout, out with friends, networking, and so on and this expression bounces around my head. 


I believe this is one of the most valuable lessons we, as female athletes, have gained from our career in elite sports. 


Especially being a female in the elite-athlete space, we have learned to never take opportunity for granted. I remember from my very first days as a swimmer to my last as a senior in college, my coaches would always tell me that I had one opportunity to go a best time, to improve, and after that race is over, so is the opportunity…until next time we are lucky enough to receive it. 


This lesson is true for not only swimming, but for every sport and not only for athletics, but for how we live and lead our everyday lives. 


We can take this unique self-awareness that we have learned along with our rare drive and energy to excel and be the best we can. We can carry this value into our jobs, our relationships and most importantly to encourage female empowerment around us. 


The value of opportunity is instilled in all of us as athletes, as female athletes, as strong women who have influence and voices around our communities and those we surround ourselves with, we should never shy away from taking advantage of our opportunity to empower ourselves and as a result all women together. 


This article was originally posted in Mpower Athlete.

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