Nastia Liukin on Always Finishing What You Start

So there she was, at the 2012 Olympic Trials for gymnastics.

Considering she had won the all-around gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, it seemed like a lock that she’d make the 2012 team.

There was a crowd of 20,000 in the arena, plus millions more watching at home all around the world.

And then, during her very best event, the uneven bars…

Nastia Liukin fell face-first on the mat.

I remember lying there, on the mat, and all of a sudden I remember thinking: You’re the reigning Olympic all-around champion, all these eyes are on you … and you just embarrassed yourself. You failed. And you’re not going to make this Olympic team.

But instead of calling it quits, instead of retreating to the locker room with her head held low, Nastia got up and got back on the uneven bars.

My parents always told me no matter what you do, you have to finish what you’ve started. And in the moment, I didn’t realize how big of a lesson that would be as I move on in my life. But I finished that routine. I landed on my feet. And for the first time in my entire career, I had a standing ovation. I had won the Olympic all-around gold medal and nobody was on their feet. And so when I had the worst routine of my entire career, 20 thousand people were on their feet.

Anyone else have goosebumps?

And that’s just one lesson that Nastia shared with us. This September, we’re pumped to announce that Nastia will be sharing her entire story at our first annual HYPERGROWTH Conference.

FYI: The first 50 people to use promo code NASTIA can get their tickets for $250 (general admission: $699)

In addition to being a 5-time Olympic medalist, Nastia is an entrepreneur. She and her fiancé are building an app called Grander that connects up-and-coming athletes with mentors.

During a recent podcast interview, Nastia shared life lessons that have helped her excel in both the world of Olympic competition and the business world.

Here are some of our favorite quotes from the interview.

On re-defining success:

My entire life, my mentality was always: People aren’t going to support you, people aren’t going to love you unless you win the gold medal and come out on top, unless you’re the best student and you make the most money — you know, success. What is success? And for me that was what I defined it as. But that moment for me [getting a standing ovation at the 2012 Olympic trials] has just really kind of proved to me that there are so many parts of success. Winning that medal, yes that was a piece of success, but you can have more pieces of success and you can move on from that. So that’s what I’m trying to do. When I’m 40, 50, 60 years old, I don’t want to think that the only thing that I did, while it was amazing, was win that gold medal at 18.

On why you should never quit on a bad day:

We’re all going to have bad days, whether it’s in gymnastics, business, whatever it is, and it’s so important to never quit on a bad day. I remember coming home from the gym and crying and being like, “I quit, I don’t want to do this anymore.” And my mom was always like, “You know, we’re not going to push you into this. So you can quit, but not today. You have to go back to the gym until you have a good day and after a good day you can quit.” And sometimes that would take me three days, five days, a week, and you know, moms know best. Because I’d come home after a good day and she’d be like, “Great, we’ll enroll you back into public school, find another activity that you like…” and I’d be like, “What the heck are you talking about? I never said I wanted to quit!”

On following your dream:

I see this all the time because my parents own a gymnastics school: The kids that burnout, most of the time it’s because of the parents pushing them too much. I truly believe it has to be your dream and your goal, and not just for a sport when you’re younger, but for anything in life. I always tell kids, one day when you’re going to have a job, you have to really love it, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time doing it. I trained seven hours a day, six days a week.

On making time for yourself in the morning: 

[My fiancé and I] always try to get in a morning workout because I feel like the day can get ahead of you. So if you’re not going to do it in the morning, it’s not happening. And I feel like it’s so important to take time for yourself in the mornings. So what we try to do is actually before we go on our morning chain of emails, we put our phones down, and we’ll have our coffee, and we’ll read whatever book we’re reading, whether we have 30 minutes that day or 5 to 10 minutes. Whatever it is, whether you’re reading a book, or you’re listening to a podcast, you need something to just kind of stimulate your brain a little bit instead of social media straight out.

You can listen to the full podcast episode below, subscribe on iTunes, or just search “Seeking Wisdom” on your favorite podcast app:

Buying HYPERGROWTH tickets? The first 50 people to use the promo code NASTIA will get their tickets for $250 (general admission: $699) — just click here and grab your tickets today.