After (and during) my most recent international experience in Spala, Poland, where I went 0-2 at the Memorial Ziółkowski Open, I started to reflect. While I was reflecting, I was looking over my journey and pondering about progress. I was thinking about what it is and what it really means. After this post, I hope you will have a better understanding of it because I believe that it is truly important to my success, as well as yours.
I've been wrestling for what will be 18 years in December. I'm not sure when was the last time I went to a tournament and didn't win a match, let alone two tournaments in 6 months where I didn't win a match (Alexander Medved 0-1, Ziółkowski 0-2). Then I thought about my other tournaments this year where I didn't place (NYAC 1-2, Olympic Trials 2-2). Next, I looked at my lone Senior Level tournament this year where I placed with a 4-1 record, which was the 2016 Olympic Trials Qualifier in Las Vegas. I added all that up and what I have right now as a wrestler on the Senior Level International Circuit is a record of 7-8. Most important, I have a whole lot of experience and learned lessons about what doesn't win on this new level. To me, this is PROGRESS.
The word progress is a late Middle English word from Latin prōgressus a going forward, from prōgredī to go forth, from prō forward + gradī to go, according to Merriam Webster. In other words, PROGRESS simply means *to go forward*.
Now, some people might look at a 7-8 record, and ask “PROGRESS. How is that progress?” Well, it's PROGRESS because just a year ago, at this point, I wasn't sure I was ever going to wrestle again. I had won an NCAA Title and I could have rode off into the sunset knowing how I finished my collegiate career would probably go down in history and that nobody could take away my NCAA Title (which, by the way, was in one heck of a bracket that now has a World Champ, Two 2016 US Olympians and Two 2016 University World Team members. Not a shabby bracket, at all.) The bracket is sitting in my house somewhere. The trophy is in a container in the basement with my other stuff. The point though, is when I committed to continuing my wrestling journey, I reset my goals to being the "BEST IN THE WORLD!" Thus, I've made progress towards that goal simply because I am wrestling and challenging myself to be better than I was yesterday. Although this year has been extremely tough, frustrating and uncomfortable for me, I have grown so much in this year because I decided to go and catch my dream of becoming an Olympic and World Champion. And although I didn't make the 2016 Olympic Team, I've made progress toward making the next World team, and the next one and more.
After the Memorial Ziółkowski tournament, Joey McKenna, who became a NCAA All-American this year at Stanford as a true freshman and Bronze medalist in Poland, told me, "Fail forward Gadson!" I appreciate those words because he was telling me to keep pushing, and do not allow setbacks to deter me from my goal. He was also saying, "Keep making progress Gadson!" So, what is progress? Progress is the ability to #BeRARE. Progress is the ability to overcome obstacles. Progress is the ability to get uncomfortable and push through that feeling, and grow and learn from your experiences.
As I finish, I want you to think about this: Quitting is the best shortcut to losing and NEVER accomplishing your goals. Some people QUIT due to slow progress. They haven’t grasped that slow progress is still PROGRESS! It might be a slow process but quitting won't speed it up! Always push through! #BeRARE
• Gadson Strong, LLC. • Cyclone Wrestling Club Athlete• Sunkist Kids Wrestler •
Senior Level Athlete • World and Olympic Hopeful •