Over the past few days, I have had the distinct pleasure of attending my younger sister’s graduation from Yale University’s prestigious School of Drama Graduate Program.  I am incredibly proud of my sister, and I have enjoyed every second of the commencement ceremonies for this Ivy League institution.

One takeaway that I found particularly valuable for everyday life occurred during the keynote address by ABC Correspondent Barbara Walters.  She was a powerful speaker, and had incredible presence as she told anecdotes about her history of interviewing the many famous personalities of her career.  During her discussion about former Prime Minister of England Margaret Thatcher, she said to the seniors: “If you have a failure, you will rise; you will be fine; you will work your way back.  Do not sink into ‘Why?  Woe is me!  It’s not my fault!”

Although deep down I know that this is true, it helps to hear these words once in a while from a successful third party.  It also reminded me of a quote from the keynote address at my own graduation: “If you’re not dead, get up!”  I know it’s a cliché concept, but it is good to be reminded of this once in a while… we are all fallible human beings, and learning lessons from failure is part of what makes us stronger and better people.

I found this concept to be particularly applicable as I research and write about a number of Olympians from the Southeast who will be making the trip to London to represent their country this July.  These people are not superhumans.  In most cases, their VO2 Maxes are not unattainable for us mortal athletes.  They have, however, separated themselves by working through their failures, and have risen from the depths of many disappointments to try again.  They are stubborn in their passion for their sports, and they have poured their hearts and souls into that passion.

Another concept that Walters touched on in her address was what she believes should be the ultimate goal in life – to be happy, or “find your bliss.”  When you reduce our existence down to that simple goal, it makes life seem less complicated, and more straightforward.

Love what you do, and don’t give up.

While some of these Olympic athletes that I am covering have the million dollar sponsorship deals and celebrity status across the country, others are scraping by with the support of parents, significant others, and their communities.  They are sacrificing everything in the pursuit of the simple goal of an Olympic medal, but they love what they do and they are not giving up!

I think that we can all learn something from these ideas, and I will certainly be working to integrate these concepts into my own existence moving forward.