Shannon Miller remains the Most Decorated Gymnast in American History. She is the only American to rank among the Top 10 All-Time gymnasts and is the only female athlete to be inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame – Twice! (Individual (2006) and Team (2008))
After retiring from Olympic competition, Shannon received her undergraduate degrees in marketing and entrepreneurship and her law degree from Boston College. She then moved from Olympic athlete to advocate for the health and wellness of women and children.
Shannon launched her company Shannon Miller Lifestyle: Health and Fitness for Women along with her series of fitness books, cookbooks and fitness DVD’s in July, 2010. In 2011, she launched the Shannon Miller Walk-Fit program: an online tracking and incentive program. She continues to travel the country as a highly sought after motivational speaker and advocate for the health and wellness of women and children. Shannon’s seeks to empower women to make their health a priority through education and awareness.
In January of 2011, Shannon was diagnosed with a malignant germ cell tumor, a rare form of ovarian cancer. She had the baseball sized tumor removed successfully and followed up with 9 weeks of chemotherapy. Shannon has remained open and public about her diagnosis and treatment and continues to empower women to make their health a priority through the media.
My Definition Of Success | For me, like many, success is about achieving my personal goals. That might be the perfect routine or the perfect landing. These days it’s providing for my children, building a business I can be proud of, and continuing to give back. My individual goals may have changed over the years but the idea of success has not. It’s never been about gold medals or money, it’s about that feeling that I’ve done my very best and given my all, every time out. My coach always told me to focus on my routines. If I hit the best routine I could then the score and the medals would come. When you focus on winning each day, all of the other things fall into place.
I Am Driven By | I have always been competitive. In gymnastics I was never the most talented, strongest, or most flexible. I was scrappy and learned early on that if I was going to be successful, I had to work hard and believe in myself. What drives me is the underdog mentality. I never think of myself as having “arrived”. I focus on the work and constantly remind myself of the long-term goals I want to accomplish. Then I get busy achieving the short-term goals that make that ultimate goal possible. Achieving a goal, no matter how small, keeps me motivated, drives me, to conquer the long-term dream.
My Highlights | My career has been amazing and while I’m very proud of the medals and accolade I’ve received, some of my most cherished highlights are those without the glitz and glamour. For example, overcoming a broken elbow 10 weeks prior to the 1992 Olympic Trials and winning the competition against all odds, solidifying my place on my first Olympic team… Another highlight was hitting 16 for 16 routines at that same Olympics! I’m proud of graduating high school on time with good grades even while training for the 1996 Olympic Games. Education has always been important to me, so the ability to continue on to college and then law school is something that I will always be proud of. I hope that it sets a good example for other young athletes and lets them know that the two can work hand in hand. You don’t have to give up one for the other.
There is also my survivorship of cancer and a multitude of other things that I feel I can appreciate. I’m excited to have built an incredible business, www.shannonmiller.com, and have the ability to help women make their health a priority. Of course, what I’m most proud of are my son and daughter. Being a mom is more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done in my life, and I cherish every day with them.
The Difference Between Good And Great | You must have a mission. When you are absolutely passionate about what you do, it’s not enough to do a good job, it has to be great! On the best days, you wake up consumed with ideas on how to do better. On the worst days, you wake up determined to find a solution. If you want to be great, you have to feel it. You have to have that fire in your belly, that spark, every step of the way.
The Characteristics Of Success | As I’ve mentioned, I’m competitive by nature. However, I am usually one who has to work very hard to get ahead. I never allow myself to rest on my laurels, to get too comfortable. Every day is an opportunity to further your goals; don’t let that slip away. I believe that no matter what your endeavor, you need to begin the day with at least 10 minutes of meditation. Be grateful for the wonderful things in your life. Find that peace within, and center yourself for the day ahead. I also believe in a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Fitness, good nutrition, sleep, and stress management all work together to give you that springboard for success. One of the best ways to take all of these components and find a way to work them into your lifestyle so that you can focus on the big picture is to hold a retreat. It can be as simple as getting a big pad of paper and inviting a mentor, business partner, or spouse to sit with you in a quiet space and begin plotting out the goals in each area of your life. This exercise forces you to set priorities. First, focus on big picture goals. Next, you will begin to find those small things you can do each day in order to achieve each of those dreams. Write it down, and look at it every day. You can hold these retreats yearly, quarterly, or even monthly to keep on track.
Critical Skills I Develop | You’ll find that I often go back to goal setting. When you are able to set long and short-term goals, you stay motivated to succeed when faced with even the most difficult challenges. I also believe an attitude of finding solutions is important. Anyone can tell you why something won’t work; I want to be the person that finds why or how it will work. And those are also the type of people I want on my team. One area I had to work very hard on improving was micromanaging. If I wanted my business to grow, I had to trust my team. I had to be able to give them a task and let them run with it. I also found that by giving them more autonomy they began bringing me new ideas and challenging me in new and exciting ways. You can’t be everything to everyone. Do what you do best and form a team that can help you with the rest.
How I Use My Mind | In gymnastics, I did quite a bit of visualization. I would lay in bed the night before the competition and go through my entire routine on each of the four apparatus. I would see myself hitting each routine perfectly. And the next day throughout the competition, I would continue to fend off any negative thoughts and allow in only positive thoughts. It is this way with business, as well. When I allow those negative thoughts in, things don’t feel as good. All of a sudden, I’m not as motivated or inspired. But if I change my thought process and focus on the positive aspects, visualize myself making progress; I suddenly see a solution or new angles that keep me energized to succeed.
Lessons I Have Learnt | I feel somewhat repetitive but much of my success comes down to 1) Set goals, short-term and long-term 2) Never set limits on your ability (but be willing to work hard if you want to succeed) and 3) Have fun! This third one is critical because you simply can’t be successful at something you don’t enjoy. That’s why it’s so important to find something that inspires you. Then set a goal and work hard to make it a success.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | I was meeting with a friend several years ago after just launching my company. I was looking to him for some advice. We were growing so fast and it seemed as if everyone wanted a piece of my time and effort. And while I am by nature a workaholic, I realized something had to give; we just couldn’t do everything. I realized I didn’t want our quality to suffer or for our message to get watered down. This friend, who runs a very high level company, said something to me that I will never forget. First, he asked “What is it that wakes you up in the morning raring to go? What is your passion?” I explained that I wanted to help women make their health a priority. I went on to share my frustration that this broad goal can be accomplished through so many different avenues, products, programs, events, website, articles, etc. that it can be difficult to know where to stop. He explained that the details will be okay as long as you keep the primary message at the forefront every single day. If something falls outside of that focus, don’t do it. At the end of the day, your most important goal….your mission….is to help women make their health a priority. He was able to quickly take this concern of overextending myself and our product lines that had been building for some time and boil it down to one truth. “My mission was to help one woman focus on her health today.” It didn’t matter how I did it as long as it got done. Sometimes we have to simplify our message so we don’t get lost and off track. Focus on your primary goal and everything else falls into place.
I Am Inspired By | I am fortunate to have had many people in my life that inspire me. In gymnastics, it was the older girls in the gym. I saw how hard they worked, and I noticed when they brought home trophies. In business, I have a handful of mentors that also serve as wonderful role models. I look to those success stories of people who built themselves and their companies from scratch because that’s something that speaks to me. It’s a good reminder that you can make the impossible, possible. However, my most important role model has been my mother. She is intelligent, active and never backs down from a challenge. She is a strong woman who was not only an inspiration to me growing up but she remains so today. This is a woman who faced down cancer through surgery, chemo, and radiation, and not just survive but thrive. At the age of about 65 she ran her first marathon!! She is an incredible woman and will always be my hero.