FROM:  Lex GilletteTrack and Field

If you've never seen me jump before, then here's a sample of how it goes.

My long jump caller, Wesley Williams, measures my running approach, which is 32.5 meters or approximately 106 feet. This is the distance that it takes for me to get from my initial step to the long jump takeoff board. 

Wesley aligns my body so I'll have the best chance to run straight down the runway. He'll then run down and position himself in front of the takeoff board so we can begin. I'll give the signal notifying him that I'm ready to go, and then he'll proceed to yell and clap. I focus on the sound and begin my running approach. Once I reach my sixteenth step, I propel myself into the air and land in the sand.

It's certainly much easier now, but did it start out this way? Absolutely not!

I remember it clearly. It was 2001 and I was an athlete at the Michigan Blind Athletic Association's annual sports camp. Each camper was required to participate in a number of activities, including swimming, wrestling, goal ball, and track and field. One of my chosen activities was running long jump.

Running long jump? Well, I knew I could stand in one location and jump really far, but how could someone like me run first and then jump? I'm blind. That's the sort of excuse that you give when you're afraid or uncertain. That's exactly how I felt when I jumped for the first time.

Often times, we tend to get these sorts of feelings, especially when daunting tasks lie in our paths. We may think things like, "What if I mess up?" or "What if people see me fail?" or "There's no way I can do this!"

John Wooden, the great UCLA men's basketball coach, has a quote that I really love. He says, "If you're not making mistakes, you're not doing anything." And I wasn't doing anything until I had a few mishaps in sports and in life. We live in a world where mistakes are viewed in a negative light, when in actuality, they are merely experiences that we should learn from. 

So if you make a mistake, you will now know what NOT to do when you're in that predicament again. Realizing this is the first and most important step. No successful person has ever made it to the top of the stairwell without taking that first step.

Don't be afraid.


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