Over 1,000 students from 19 schools across Australia today joined Ardoch’s mega Zoom for Project Magnify. Students from grades 4-8 listened as Paralympian Emily Petricola and Olympian Matt Ryan talk about their journeys to success.
Both Emily and Matt found what they were truly passionate about – in a roundabout way. Their friendship and partnership was important in helping both of them find their dreams.
Matt, who has a silver medal in rowing, began the sport so that he would stay fit for football. But in the end, it was not rowing or football that turned out to be Matt’s passion; it was coaching and helping others to succeed. Emily on the other hand, started out as a rower and had a successful business. But following a diagnosis of MS (Multiple Sclerosis), her life changed course and along the way she found her passion – being a cyclist and winning.
Emily and Matt spoke about key things that make all the difference to succeeding – hard work, failure, goal setting, planning, and surrounding yourself with people who believe in you.
Matt became very aware that with rowing he could clearly see that the harder he worked the more he achieved and felt like that applies much more broadly. “In life, you get rewarded for the work you put in – whether that is academically or on the sporting field,” he said.
Emily is no stranger to hard work. Following her diagnosis of MS, Emily was regularly sick and couldn’t exercise. She went from being a fit and healthy, independent person, to someone who struggled to get out of bed. Emily and Matt worked together. They started small, but before long, they had a huge goal – to make the Paralympian Team. The path was by no means easy.
The pair spoke about things not going to plan and noted that it’s good to go through some setbacks and disappointments. “It’s part of the journey to who you are. It’s important to push yourself, and make the most of every journey and failure is an important part of your life journey.” Emily shared with the students that: “You will fail and that’s OK. Failure or perceived failure helps you learn a lot.”
When asked if he ever felt like giving up, Matt responded by saying: “There were plenty of times I felt like giving up. If you don’t sometimes feel like giving up, you probably aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. You need to focus on what inspires you and strive for a performance outcome. Motivation can get you out of the funk and keep you moving forward.”
Goal setting is one of the things that can help motivate and inspire you. Matt noted that: “Even if you don’t get there you set yourself up for a good life.” Emily shared the sentiment but added: “You have to set a goal – and plan. If you have a goal but don’t have a plan you won’t go very far.”
Both Emily and Matt have also been fortunate and surrounded themselves with people who supported them. It made a big difference and helped each other find their “calling”.
Matt’s parents encouraged him and gave him a whole range of skills, how to train properly, to try everything and give everything a go. Emily too played a special role in Matt’s life. “I loved rowing, love the sport, but I love helping other people and am passionate about helping others succeed. Em helped me transition from athlete to coach and being the best version of myself.”
Emily credits Matt with helping her reach her dreams. At first Emily didn’t think she could possibly be good enough to reach the heights she has achieved – a world record holder and gold medallist. But the belief and confidence of Matt and Shane Kelly (an Australian Olympian in Cycling) helped build her inspiration, motivation and drive.
“The confidence of other people made a big difference,” Emily told the students. “These are the key things that will help you go far in life. You have to set a goal – and plan. If you have a goal but don’t have a plan you won’t go very far. And surround yourself with positive people who believe you can succeed. Share your goals and let the people around you help you achieve your goals.”
To this Matt added: “Never measure your success against others, just be the best you can be.”
The call was the first ever Project Magnify – a new program by Ardoch to inspire children to magnify their own dreams.
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