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Best advice Olympian Shawn Johnson East received about facing fear


Shawn Johnson of the United States performs her gold-medal winning routine on the balance beam in individual apparatus finals on Tuesday, August 19, 2008, in the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing, China.

Getty Images | Sacramento Bee

Shawn Johnson of the United States performs her gold-medal winning routine on the balance beam in individual apparatus finals on Tuesday, August 19, 2008, in the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing, China.

“My head began to spin with disbelief, because in that instant my dream died,” the former gymnast and current judge on CNBC’s “Adventure Capitalists,” now Shawn Johnson East, writes in her book, “Winning Balance.” “I stood there feeling more hurt than I’d ever felt in my life. I couldn’t understand my low scores. I couldn’t understand how I could have worked my entire life for something only to see it come down to this.”

But there was still one final routine to perform, the floor exercise. Although she wanted to give up, she thought of advice her long-time coach Liang Chow gave repeatedly during training: “Finish what you start.”

She swallowed her fear of failure, faced the audience and finished the event. “In some strange way, once I knew the gold was out of reach, I was free to go out there and just be me, the natural competitor who nonetheless had stuck with gymnastics since age three for the pure joy of the sport,” she writes.

She took home a gold medal for the balance beam, and three silver medals in other events.

Now 25, Johnson East is still conquering her fears. And, she’s taking on a new domain: investing.

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