Today’s guest is a world champion swimmer, three-time Pan America Champion, three-time world university games champion, former world record holder, and put a definitive exclamation point on her swimming career with a gold medal performance as part of the women’s 4 x 100-meter medley relay in the 2000 Olympic games. Her story as an athlete took her on an incredible 23-year journey that started when she was five and included a 12-year period when she was on every national team except the Olympic team on her way to the Sydney games. Perhaps even more awe-inspiring than the grit and determination it took her to continue pursuing her goal after so many close calls is the self-awareness she developed as an athlete and human being on the way.
Accomplishing what so many former professional athletes struggle to do, she translated that self-awareness around what made her a successful athlete into a plan and strategy for building a career and life she wanted when she retired. Now as a parent, executive, and advocate for kids being in sports the right way, she’s brimming with a desire to share and empower more young athletes, coaches and parents with the critical questions and perspectives that allowed her to succeed. It’s my pleasure to introduce to Omni Athlete, B.J. Bedford-Miller.
Today We’ll be Talking About:
What competition has meant to B.J. as an athlete and as she’s transitioned out fo her career as an athlete, what it means to her now (2:40).
“To me, competition is really about the team you surround yourself with and the way that you work together to help elevate [you]”
The perception that individual sports lack a sense of team camaraderie (4:55).
How B.J. struggled with negative self-narrative, and what she did to get out of her head (11:26).
“I was really scared that I might find something that might change who I know myself to be.”
The shift in mental balance that came from winning a gold medal in the Olympics (14:29).
The difficulty that comes from failure in the context of life-consuming goals (17:45).
The motivating forces that inspired B.J. to continue on and try out for the Olympic games in Sydney (20:12).
“I was so gunshy. I just couldn’t say, ‘I’m going to put all my eggs in that basket.’ again.”
Keeping perspective by parsing out big goals into smaller ones (24:12).
Cultivating the idea of parallels between competition in sport and achieving goals in life (26:24).
“Focus on doing the things right and learning your new job, cause you’re going to start at the bottom, which is also a really hard thing to wrap your head around. You were the best in the world, and nobody cares.”
Taking for granted the principles that make competition vital to life for an athlete (30:56).
How to deal with the struggles associated with the coach/athlete relationship (34:36).
The role of a coach in a young athlete’s life (36:36).
The dichotomy of being coachable vs. growing as a human being (39:56).
“As an athlete, we’re taught to never give up. Just one more practice. You’re only as good as your next meet.”
What it means to B.J. to be an Omni Athlete (45:12).