Gymnast Nastia Liukin Gets Back Up When She Falls

"It's about more than just the Olympic Gold medals, it's about the journey."

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Sarah Jacobs/ONE37pm

Before Nastia Liukin was a professional gymnast (and a five-time Olympic medalist), an entrepreneur (launching her own gymnastics competition and an innovative app) and Dancing With the Stars contestant, she was a two-year-old Russian immigrant from Moscow.

The impressive athlete joins ONE37pm's Kal Elsebai to discuss career milestones, forging a path as an entrepreneur, surrounding yourself with an A-team, and how to get back up when the little voices in your head get you down.

As the new toddler in Parker, Texas, Liukin felt out of place carrying traditional beet salads to the lunchroom. She fell in love with gymnastics on the sidelines, watching her mom and dad run a gym. Her gymnast coach parents couldn't afford babysitters, so they brought their waddling daughter to the gym. The rest is history. 

After training her whole life and winning a string of National Championship titles, Liukin entered the Olympic trials as an all-around champion in 2012. She had a fall on the uneven bars, landing face first on the ground. She recalls being embarrassed, mortified and doubting her rigorous training. Instead of collapsing under the pressure, she got back up and finished her routine. And, she stuck the landing to raucous applause. The worst moment of her career became the largest standing ovation she has received to date.

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"You can only control your performance, your job, or your company. You can't control the competition," she tells us. Whether it is a competitive business raising money or another gymnast on the balance beam, Liukin eloquently states, "You can only control the controllable."

So that's exactly what she did. On a regular day since the age of six, Liukin would train from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., attend school from noon to 3:30 pm and practice again from 4 to 7 pm. She'd travel home, finish up homework, complete physical therapy, ice her aching muscles and fall asleep, only to repeat it all the next day.

"What you do outside the gym is almost as important as what you do in training," Liukin says. Just like the life of a serial entrepreneur, your routine on the competition floor is only aided by your hard work off the mat.

"If you love what you do, the sacrifices are worth it. I chose to be home by 9 pm the night of my senior prom. The Olympics were [the] next year! I understood that I would have plenty of nights to stay up late and go to parties."

So what does it feel like to go to the Olympics and bring home a medal? Liukin tells us that it is surreal. But as with any high-stakes scenario, there may be naysayers both at the gym and in your head.

To silence the monster voice inside and amplify the cheerleader, Liukin suggests believing you can have the best routine of your life. Business is a thoughtful process of positively visualizing how you want to see growth; gymnastics is no different.

Her number one tip for hushing the negative is to guide yourself through a routine with keywords. Replace "What if I fail?" with "What do I need to do in order to win?"

Listen to the full Nastia podcast on: AppleSpotify | Google | iHeartStitcher | TuneIn

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