Obstacle Courses Teach Life Lessons: Kacy Catanzaro at TEDxBirmingham (Transcript)

Kacy Catanzaro – American professional wrestler

When you think of a Ninja Warrior, chances are you probably don’t picture a five-foot tall woman. But I wasn’t going to let the vision of what people thought was normal or possible, keep me from achieving my goals.

And it all started from me when I was about 5 years old. I was put into gymnastics, which undoubtedly shaped me into the person I am today. I learned self-discipline, and time management, determination, sacrifice, and so much more. But three main lessons from my gymnastics years have stuck with me throughout life. Find your own way, improvise, and use your failure to make you stronger.

So when I finished my collegiate gymnastics career, I needed something new and exciting to put all of my time and energy into. I had watched American Ninja Warrior on TV and I thought to myself, I really want to try that. So with the helping guidance of others and some research, I was able to get my shot at the course.

Now, going into the competition I knew that no woman had ever completed a course before. Many talented women have tried, but all failed. This just lit my fire a little bit harder, because I knew I was capable of completing it. So throughout my training and preparation, I leaned back on those three lessons. And I learned how much they translated into running obstacles on the course, but also overcoming obstacles in life. Sometimes, you just have to find your own way.

I am five feet tall, which most people would say it’s pretty short – I am used to it, that’s all I’ve ever known – so going through life, I have learned to approach things a little bit differently, whether it’s something simple like reaching the top shelf, or something a little bit more difficult, like getting up a 14-foot warped wall. But either way, I have learned to make it happen. And I just try and think about it in simpler terms.

ALSO READ:   Johanna Blakely: Lessons from fashion's free culture (Transcript)

If I was thirsty and I walked into the kitchen, and the glass was on the top shelf, I am not just going to say to myself: I don’t think I can reach that glass, I’m probably just going to go thirsty. Of course not. I am going to figure a way to get what I want. And it was the same way on the course. Even though the 14-foot warped wall was almost three times my height, I knew that I could make it happen, that’s what I wanted to go after, and I made sure to do it.

And the thing is, even though I was the first woman to do that – I was the first woman to get up that wall, first woman to complete the course – after I had done it, two more women in other cities after mine also got up the warped wall. And it just shows us that, we may think that something is unattainable, but it’s all in our head. And the thing is we have to keep chasing after our dreams for ourselves, but also to show others keep breaking those barriers so that others can follow you.

Now, improvising. Learn to improvise, and learn to love it. No matter how hard you plan for something, or how prepared you think you are, nothing is ever going to go exactly how you plan, ever. That’s just how it is. And I have learned to improvise. You know, we improvise as second nature all the time without even realizing it. If you’re driving down the street and something pops up in the road, automatically you swerve off. But do you just stay off the road and keep driving on the sideline? You swerve back on the road as soon as possible, and you get back in between those lines. And that’s how we have to think about it.

ALSO READ:   Simple English for Everyone: Yukiko Nakayama @ TEDxKyotoUniversity (Transcript)

Even if you get off track, and you have a minor setback, that’s OK, don’t let it keep you off the road. And that happened to me on the course a few times, I have seen the obstacles, I knew how I wanted them to go, and I knew how I wanted to get through it, but it doesn’t always happen that way. One time my hand slipped and I was hanging there by one arm, and I was thinking to myself, this is definitely not how I wanted this to go. But instead of just letting go, I learned to improvise. I told myself, you are OK, keep going. I got my hand back on, finished that obstacle, and completed the course. So the key is not to not make mistakes. That’s OK. It’s as long as you swerve off that road, you get back between those lines.

Pages: First |1 | ... | | Last | View Full Transcript

Scroll to Top