On July 14th, 2014, Kacy Catanzaro made history for absolutely crushing it on American Ninja Warrior (ANW) as the first woman in the show’s history to qualify for national finals in Las Vegas. Ever since, the world has been watching on repeat, my family included.
Last night, as my mom and I watched it for perhaps the 10th time, we actually began to tear up. Having been a former extreme sports athlete and fitness coach, my mom now suffers from a little-known neurological condition called “Leukodystrophy” which has resigned her to a wheelchair. Even so, she still does whatever possible to exercise almost daily. So, it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about the importance of heart in sport – and, really, that’s sort of the incredible appeal about Kacy. Kacy gracefully encompasses an extreme capacity for physical and mental perseverance while still coming across as relatable; her excitement and inner drive are palpable to her fans.
Here are a few things we could ALL learn from America’s New-Age Sweetheart:
1. Leverage Your Resources
Coming in at 5’ 0” and 100 pounds, Kacy had some serious disadvantages in terms of reach with some of the obstacles – but, I’m sure that’s not how she saw it. By leveraging her lower center of gravity and compact strength, Kacy swung and jumped her way to the finish line, seemingly flying where there were no other options. An honest assessment of one’s circumstances, a little strategic planning, and a huge leap of faith can go a long way in life.
2. Visualize Success
According to this morning’s HuffPost article, whenever Kacy “faces an unfamiliar challenge she closes her eyes and pictures herself conquering it.” While this may sound like the most overplayed advice out there, I ask you to stop for a moment and answer genuinely: have you ever tried it? Whether it’s for a faster race time or a smoother speech at work, mentally envisioning your success coming to fruition is key. And, like anything else, visualization takes practice and consistency. After all if you don’t believe you can do it, how can you?
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Reinvent Yourself
Once a D-1 gymnast at Towson University, Kacy eventually graduated into the so-called “real world” just like the rest of us. While we may not know the precise details of her journey yet, we do know that she didn’t let the end of her college career signify the end of her athletic career. Instead, Kacy began working for the Alpha Warrior gym and took to the ANW stage. Needless to say, the transition was a good choice. By positively embracing the discomfort that often accompanies change, we just may encounter new and exciting opportunities in life.
4. Stand Up For What You Believe
Budweiser shamelessly tweeted an ad of a woman, implicitly meant to portray Kacy, reaching for a bud light while hanging from the Warped Wall. Kacy quipped back at them: “@Budlight Absolutely NOT what I would do when I reach the top of the warped wall. Can’t believe they used my name for this add. #NotPleased.” Taking a hands-on approach to controlling her personal brand will be essential to keeping a loyal fan base. The lesson here? Never compromise yourself or your values and don’t let anyone else, either.
I mean, come on. At least not for a shitty bud light. (Like, perhaps for a Guinness, but who am I to say?)
5. Encourage Others
This is hands down the most important lesson of all. After kicking ass, Kacy has taken to the mic to encourage other women to come out for ANW, noting that maybe after seeing her success, they will think “okay, I can do that.” To inspire others to believe in themselves is one of the greatest gifts on earth, and for that, she truly is #MightyKacy. So, next time you celebrate a little victory for yourself, try paying it forward.
You may just be amazed at all you can do.