She Thinks She’s All That. Do You?

She Thinks She’s All That. Do You?

I have a daughter who loves gymnastics. She is always flipping and twisting and cartwheeling around our house.

Because of her interest, I have had a little more exposure to the world of gymnastics than I otherwise would have, which is why I have found myself thinking about the recent media attention surrounding Simone Biles.

Last month, at a qualifying meet for the U.S. gymnastics championships, Biles was spotted wearing a leotard with her name printed on the back. Though it is not unprecedented for gymnasts to wear their names on their leotards, it is unusual. At least for the women gymnasts. Some critics took this to mean that Biles was “cocky.” They criticized her, not for being great, but for thinking she was great.

So last week, as a fun way to “jab back” at the criticism, Biles warmed up for a training session wearing another leotard with her name on the back. This time there was also a picture of the head of a goat studded in crystals beneath her name. The GOAT, was there to symbolize the acronym “greatest of all time.”

Biles was telling her critics in a lighthearted way, “You want to know the truth? Not only do I think I’m great, I think I’m the greatest of all time.”

Nevermind that Biles has the wins to back up her claim. Simone Biles has won every meet she’s entered dating back to the U.S. championships in 2013. She won five medals at the recent Rio Olympics, four of which were gold, including the all-around title—which brought her medal total to 25.

Nevermind that Biles has more titles at the world championships meets than any other gymnast in history—male or female. She has gymnastics moves named after her on the balance beam, on the floor, and on the vault. Some of her moves are so difficult that U.S.A. Gymnastics has argued that a new judging tier needs to be created in order to code the points correctly. The truth is, Biles has been competing against only herself for a long time.

And nevermind, as reported by USA Today, that the team’s original plan was to have all the gymnasts’ names on all the leotards, only to realize that one gymnast’s name was too long and the plan was scrapped. But, Biles’ leotard was already done and so she wore it for a training session.

Nevermind all of that.

The point that I keep coming back to is what Biles said about the negative commentary she received, “You’ll go you whole entire career and everybody will tell you you’re great. But the minute…you say you’re good, (people are) like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re so cocky!’ ‘Cancel her,’ or this or that.”

Biles went on to say, “There should be times where we can celebrate whenever we do a good routine. Or if you’ve been on a winning streak for a year. Or so forth. I think it’s something you should have pride in. Not be cocky about it, but have pride in it.”

So, what is the line between acknowledging your own greatness but not being too proud of it? Can you even be too proud? Is there such a thing? Why can’t Biles not only be the greatest and also acknowledge truthfully that she is the greatest?

I think that this conundrum actually keeps some of us from pursing and achieving our goals. We don’t want to stand out too much. We’d almost rather be unqualified than acknowledge that we think we’re qualified. Just who do we think we are? We are taught to strive and set goals and work hard and be the best we can be, but then not get too excited about what we’ve done when we get there. There is an idea out there that somehow you can be a “poor winner.” In other words, we should all try to be great, but never believe we are great.

The trouble is, without really believing it, you can’t ever get there. In order to fuel the monumental effort our goals require, we have to believe first. We have to believe in our abilities and in our own greatness. That deep belief is the key to all our accomplishments in the first place.

Here’s what we forget: Believing in our own greatness doesn’t take away from anyone else and it doesn’t put any one else down. Arrogance is thinking that our accomplishments make us better people than someone else. It can be powerful to understand that we can achieve our goals and even be the best at whatever it is we are working towards and simultaneously acknowledge that this doesn’t make us better than any other person.

Achievement makes us good at what we do. It doesn’t make us good. We are already good. And so is everyone else.

Believing in ourselves and acknowledging our own power to achieve helps us have a vision of what we can do and be in our own lives. And I believe we cannot really achieve what we want without that powerful belief fueling all our actions.

Biles has to believe she is the best at what she does in order to achieve her lofty goals. And so do you. As Muhammad Ali said, “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.”

I actually think it’s not the world but ourselves that needs the most convincing. We are the ones that are skeptical. We are the ones that doubt our worth and our ability and our greatness. When we finally learn to believe deeply in our own greatness, the accomplishment of our goals becomes inevitable. It is not cockiness. It is not arrogance. It is the truth.

What do you think? How has believing in your own greatness allowed you to reach your big goals?