Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the personal success versus business success contrasts, and the one thing I've realized is that in my personal life, I don't really have a manifesto. I've written one for every business plan I've ever created and yet, for my own plan, I have failed to create something solid that I can refer to when questioning my 'purpose'. Yesterday, someone sent me an image that struck me nearly speechless and inspired the following paragraphs; I was going to share it on Instagram but as it took shape, it was not only extremely long, but would be difficult to tie to any one image alone.
My life has been an exercise in sincerity... Even when I'm seemingly insincere. My personality is an illustration of inner authenticity, even at the cost of my ambition and commercial success, and despite the humor in my words or actions. As I've gotten older and have less patience and time for inefficiency, I've begun to realize that my bluntness isn't a shield, but the core of who I am. And it's a powerful core when combined with passion and the eternal spring of optimism.
When I say that women have a larger place in this world than as objects or placeholders or prizes, I mean it. When I speak about how female athletes have an obligation to be more than representative of a 'look', I speak with full conviction. When I expound upon the idea of companies promoting the health of an industry through equality and skill instead of a false idea of ownership and inferiority, I speak the truth. There is nothing in this world as valuable as building and creating and progressing in positive ways... And it is time to make that more than an idea and into the standard. We are the deciders. We are the creators of our fate and the builders of a future... Not just for athletes. But for women. For girls. For all those who dream of possibilities that aren't dictated by their gender or appearance, but their skill and effort and work ethic and passion. Those who insist on 'playing the game' are part of the problem, not the solution and prevent progress instead of pushing it. I may just ride a bike, but I'll be damned if my life and my career are summed up as such. There are plenty of remarkably accomplished but unremarkable cyclists out there, my friends, and none of this is about what I accomplish on the bike. It simply isn't. Race results are forgotten, photos are misremembered, teams crumble and careers fade away... All we have are the dreams we enable in those who come after us, the happiness we make for those around us and the gratitude we recognize in every day we're able to see. And my purpose is to do just that. To inspire that, to create that, to leave that... Even though I am so flawed and so human. My job is to build something not made of ego, but of kindness. Of hope. Of gratitude.
And I hope my legacy is filled with all of that, with enough emotion and failure and irreverence and reckless curiosity that it fills a ship. I hope that what I leave behind is bigger than my name; I hope that my legacy is so large that my name becomes forgotten in the midst of all of the laughter and thought and living that is done after I am gone. And I hope that this is possible because I pushed over a chair in the barroom of someone's mind and leveled a wall in another. I hope that the damage I cause is that of a whirling tornado: jagged and sharp and angry until it takes on a new shape as improvements are made and dreams are built again. I hope that those walls, those bridges, those ramparts... I hope they are the barriers of the past that has held us back for so long and that my collateral damage isn't that of other humans, but the relics of those hateful traditions which have limited humans thus far. My only hope is that my existence serves a purpose. That my life, in the blip that it is on the infinitesimal scale, will have made waves enough. And if it does, if I succeed in that one singular effort, it will have been a life well led. An existence worth existing for. A humanity unwasted.
May I be a building block in the beautiful, disheveled castle of human history. And may my existence inspire, upend, fortify, infuriate and fire up those around me until they too have dreams of being larger than themselves.