Olympian Confesses – “I Was Terrified”

Posted August 1, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

The photo above clearly depicts a happy, beautiful young woman. Her engagement ring gleaming, it’s clear she is content and in love. If you don’t recognize her, let me refresh your memory. This is what she looked like 16 years ago when she was just 15 years old – the same year she won a gold medal as the youngest member of the “Magnificent Seven” at the 1996 Summer Olympics.

It’s fitting that as this year’s Summer Olympics kick off, Dominique Moceanu’s book (published in June) is gaining great acclaim and some controversy. In it, she chronicles the life of a child dealing with incredibly adult issues. She talks openly of her relationship with famed coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi and admits she was “terrified” of them, feeling “trapped” and “in a straitjacket.”

Many of us have been in similar shoes, though with much less pressure on the line than an Olympic gold medal. I personally have been harassed and abused by a boss whose tactics were so inappropriate, it left me with months of nightmares. But no matter the severity, everyone has dealt with a bad boss – or coach, in Ms. Moceanu’s case.

It provides an incredible amount of perspective, doesn’t it? Ask yourself:

  • What lengths would an athlete go to in order to earn a gold medal? And is mental suffering worth that prize?
  • What lengths would you go to in order to rise to the top of your company? Or your field? Is mental suffering worth that prize?

I think we all have to ask when and how much is OK to go through, to deal with, to make our goals reality. What is your level of sacrifice or commitment?

Moceanu’s book is an enlightening look at Olympic gymnastics, and a thought-provoking piece on coaching, leading, and following. Click here to learn more about her book and buy it online.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."

One Comment


    I purchased the book a month ago but still haven’t read it – I guess I know what I’m doing tonight. My roommate, however, read this book and said Ms. Moceanu’s story is incredible. You present some very thought provoking questions in this post. Lately I’ve taken on some tasks at my job that are outside of my area focus (ie: library land) and I’ve had to learn a lot about the non-library world of higher education in a very short amount of time. My supervisor, along with my family, keep telling me that I am gaining great experience (and logically, I can’t argue with their point) but it has been a lot to deal with and sometimes I wonder – mentally and physically – how much longer I can continue down this road. In my library, there are not many places I can “move up” the ladder because the structure of the organization is not built that way. However, collaboration, teamwork, a willingness to accept new responsibilities, etc. are part of my annual evaluation. So it is hard to say “no” or “enough is enough” because I can not deal with things anymore. And with my blunt nature, I’m not sure it would sound very professional either.

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