30 Critical Life Lessons from 10 Great Women

30 Critical Life Lessons from 10 Great Women
Presented by Spartan Training®

In a Spartan salute to International Women's Day, we've rounded up 10 of our favorite interviews from the Spartan Up Podcast. (For the full playlist, go here.)

They share their personal lessons on how to succeed in athletics, business, helping others and life.

Gracie Van der Byl’s Bliss

Gracie van der Byl finds her bliss by swimming in competitions that are the aquatic equivalent of the Tour de France. It is in the midst of these undertakings when she feels like she is her best, most authentic self. Her swims are an exercise in Zen, focusing on the now and surrendering to not knowing. Even her philosophy on shark hazards reads like a koan: “It's not the shark you see that's the problem; it's the shark you don't.” That's little comfort to Joe De Sena, who is afraid of something after all. Who knew?

1. During life tackle things one stroke at a time.
2. Don’t overly project into the future; live in the now.
3. Boredom comes from not setting good enough goals. Always find new ways to grow.

Robyn Benincasa’s Passion

Not one to merely dip her toes in the water, adventure race champion Robyn Benincasa delved into her paddling passion by entering and excelling in a kayak ultra-endurance race several hundred miles long. Several world records and hip replacements later, she is still going strong. Her core philosophy that once you find something that you’re good at, pursue it with every ounce of your being. Since she’s channeled much of her boundless energy into her foundation, Project Athena, that helps women who’ve survived medical setbacks, this is great news for them. Benincasa will describe the transformative power of adventure and persistence in this episode.

4. Make the effort to find your strengths and continue down that path.
5. To bypass the victim mentality, always be working towards a big goal.
6. Success is driven, not by money, but the desire to fully realize what you’re capable of.

Katrin Davidsdottir’s Work Ethic

Two-time CrossFit world champion Icelandic born Katrin Davidsdottir is happiest when she is working. She loves work—whether making progress or failing then moving forward again. How has she achieved so much so young? The attitude and the mindset that nurtured throughout her life. Kristin’s secret may be that she has no secret at all. Her methods are straightforward and that they work so well is surely due to her indomitable consistency and drive. Lessons: 1. Extreme success requires extreme sacrifice. 2. Hard work brings joy and reward. 3. Use your abilities and talents to build something that goes beyond your ego.

7. Extreme success requires extreme sacrifice.
8. Hard work brings joy and reward.
9. Use your abilities and talents to build something that goes beyond your ego.

Demali Elliott’s Resilience-Building

Demali Elliott mentors young women in challenging situations through creative and introspective activities to redirect their stories onto a positive trajectory with her program Petals-N-Belles. It is a rigorous program designed to help those ready to receive that help, 68 young women at last count. The organization, largely staffed by volunteers, utilizes physical and mental challenges like rock climbing, trapeze and yoga to build emotional wellness and resilience. In this podcast Elliott describes three qualities she’s seen in the girls that have most inspired her own success.

10. Model energy that will energize those around you.
11. Bounce back. Be inspired by the ability of children, they fall and get up every day.
12. Dream big, you can fill in the details later.

 Winter Vanicki’s Boundlessness

A marathon finisher on seven continents, an aerial skiing Olympic hopeful, head of a prostate cancer awareness foundation, and she’s just 15. That's just how Winter Vinecki rolls. She already holds a world record and she is nowhere close to her prime. She nurtures a healthy positivity that covers all eventualities. Should anything go awry, she's still on track to go to Stanford and perhaps try a little skydiving. Winter leaves little doubt that she'll succeed no matter her path.

13. A worthy cause is a great motivator.
14. Active and supportive parents are great role models.
15. Have a good backup plan.

 Juliet Starrett’s Best Defense

Unwittingly paddling into hippo-infested waters on the Zambezi was the perfect, if unintentional, predictor of later success for Juliet Starrett who co-owns the San Francisco Crossfit with her husband Kelly. After the most lethal mammal to man upended her canoe, she was already strategizing her plan to survive midair. This is the perfect metaphor for making it in business: Peril will gauge a sneak attack at the most inconvenient times and you have to summon up the fortitude and flexibility to adjust your strategy when suspended at the height of danger.

16. Taking risks in your day to day life helps prepare you for the risks in business.
17. Be or recruit someone who is highly organized as an essential member of your team.
18. To retain quality staff, create enough space for them in the company to diversify and grow.

Amelia Boone’s Automation of Success

When Amelia Boone isn’t pulling I-beams out of frigid Vermont rivers for the Death Race or winning Spartan Races, she working as a highly competitive attorney. Every day she’s up at 4:07, running trails at 5 and at her desk by 7. Has she always been that way? Yes. As a child, in what must have seemed odd to observers, her family was encouraging her to relax and not take things so seriously. She believes perseverance and drive can be a habit, don’t let them lapse. It’s harder to start or start again than just keep going.

19. Make success part of your routine as regular as brushing your teeth, not allowing yourself to opt out.
20. The difficult path is where the growth happens. Choose it often.
21. Make one small change a day and let it build into something great.

Masha Gordon’s High-Value Decision-Making

Masha Gordon, a mountaineer who completed the seven summits and both poles in record time, ventured to take lessons in grit from the boardroom to the most challenging terrain on earth. Thirty minutes from the summit of Everest she was faced with an executive decision: should she risk getting caught in a storm and possibly putting her life in peril or divest and live to see another day? Luckily the risk was worth taking, but the tough mindedness she earned in business made her decision a sound one. Learn how doing great things has taught Gordon how little it actually takes to be happy and successful.

22. Even when you invested a large amount in an experience the smartest thing could be to divest if it means living to see another day.
23. Move counter to stereotypes so that they no longer define you.
24. Let a healthy fear and respect complement the excitement of your expeditions.

Kris Halenga’s Step-By-Step Grit

How did Kris Halenga, diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at 23, with no business experience, manage to become such an admired and inspirational charity CEO? Her version of grit was a mix of passion and taking small steps that eventually added up to something spectacular. She was kind to herself along the way and is now extending that kindness to others by raising breast cancer awareness. Just as compelling is the story of how she was able to take a potentially devastating condition and use it as a foundation to build a life she loves.

25. Passion and a willingness to learn along the way can stand in for business skills in entrepreneurship.
26. Don't let a challenging situation consume you but change it into something good that can help others.
27. Achieving small things each day can make you happy and will soon build into a big thing.

 Shannon Galpin’s Magnificent Obsession

Explorer and mountain biker Shannon Galpin brings cycling to Afghan women. The 2014 National Geographic Explorer believes bicycles are a vehicle for transformation in a society where this simple freedom and pleasure is denied to women and girls. This simple act, easily taken for granted in the West, provides them with a stronger voice so vital in what often appears like an insurmountable obstacle—positioning Afghan women in a place of greater equality.

28. Simply doing something right can a powerful form of activism since it will inspire others to mirror you.
29. Hope and change prevail over fear.
30. Don’t take even the simplest things for granted.


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