Four-time Olympic medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings delivered a powerful message to middle schoolers at a special assembly on Monday, January 22, sharing the hard-won wisdom that propelled her to the top of the Olympic podium. During the assembly, five student council members led an interview with Kerri, asking a series of questions aimed at obtaining Kerri’s expertise on the importance of daily effort, finding one’s purpose, and conquering self-doubt.

Kerri’s message resonated with raw vulnerability and practical wisdom. Debunking the myth of overnight success, Kerri highlighted the crucial role of consistent effort and a positive attitude. “The greats make people uncomfortable because they show up every single day,” Kerri declared, urging students to embrace dedication and consistency in the face of challenge.

But showing up isn’t enough. Finding a personal “why” became the anchor of Kerri’s message. She shared a powerful self-reflective video that was created for her during a period of doubt, reminding her that without purpose, goals crumble under pressure. “Goals without purpose are like a house of cards,” Kerri warned, emphasizing the transformative power of a dream that fuels perseverance through setbacks.

Kerri also tackled the common middle school struggle with self-doubt and social comparison. Her solution? “Don’t compare yourself to others; be inspired by them.” Mistakes and challenges are not failures, but stepping stones on the path to growth. Channeling Dr. Jordan Peterson’s wisdom, Kerri shared, “It’s not about becoming fearless, it’s about becoming braver.” It is imperative for students to choose encouragement over self-criticism and allow themselves to be led by inspiration rather than fear of failure.

Beyond the gold, Kerri celebrated the joy of the process and the importance of a strong support system. Every day is a chance to improve, even amidst the tedious fundamentals. Lean on a network of loved ones, and as Kerri exclaimed, “Don’t forget that you’re human and don’t forget to have fun!”

This wasn’t just a talk about an Olympian; it was a roadmap for success. Kerri’s message aimed to equip young minds with the tools to navigate their own journeys – whether in athletics, the arts, or academically – showing them that excellence isn’t built overnight, but with heart, purpose, and the unwavering belief that each new day brings an opportunity to grow.

Forget shortcuts and trophies; Kerri’s message resonated with a deeper truth: success begins with showing up, every single day, even when it’s hard. If nothing else, let us all be inspired by this piece of wisdom.