There are certain moments in an athlete’s life which they will remember forever or be haunted by forever.  On February 21, 2018 Jessie Diggins, a United States Olympic cross-country skier, was faced with such a moment.  She and teammate Kikkan Randall were competing in the women’s team sprint freestyle event of the 2018 Winter Olympics at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre in Pyeongchang, South Korea.  The race consisted of six 1.25 km laps split between the two teammates, alternating turns, with Kikkan Randall starting the race and Jessie Diggins finishing the race.  As Randall came into the exchange area to hand off to Diggins for the final time, the duo was in third place, trailing the Norwegian team by 0.75 seconds and the Swedish team by 0.40 seconds.

During the final lap, Diggins overcame the two skiers in front of her to take the lead charging up a hill, seemingly taking control of the race; however, as she rounded the corner to enter the stadium for the final portion of the lap, she found herself once again trailing the other two skiers in third place.

With only a few hundred meters left in the race, Diggins was faced with her moment.  She had a chance to make history.  Whether she finished first, second, or third, the United States women would win their first ever Olympic cross-country skiing medal.  The only question was what color would it be?  The answer was up to Diggins.  The Norwegian skier was in first place but quickly fell off of the pace as the Swedish skier took the lead with Diggins trailing closely behind her.

Only one skier was left.

Would the color of the medal be gold or silver?  The answer was still up to Diggins.

As the two skiers approached the finish line, they matched each other stride for stride, push for push; but you could see Diggins begin to push just a little bit harder and ski just a little bit faster.  This was her moment, and in it she chose to push forward without regret and take control of the race with everything she had, crossing the finish line 0.19 seconds ahead of the Swedish skier to win not only the United States’ women’s first ever Olympic cross-country skiing medal, but also the United States’ first ever Olympic cross-country skiing gold medal for men or women.  Diggins could have easily given in to the fatigue she was surely feeling, conceded that second was good enough, or thought that she couldn’t overtake the Swedish skier.  Instead, she seized her moment, made history, and led the United States duo to victory.

We all have moments in our lives which we will remember forever or be haunted by forever.  The choice is always ours to either give up or give it everything we have.  When we give it our all, we not only ensure we will remember that moment forever, we also show others it is possible!  We inspire them, the true telltale sign of a leader.  True leaders inspire us because they don’t give up.  They lead by example and strive just as hard, if not harder, to reach the goals we share.  They make us want to be a part of something greater which goes beyond ourselves.  What can you do to inspire someone, your team, and/or your organization today?

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