On Sunday night, Simone Biles became the first female gymnast to land a triple-twisting double somersault in a floor exercise competition. She also won her sixth national title, a feat that has only been accomplished one other time. 

The triple-double is so difficult it arguably is off the current judging scale. Gymnastics rates skills on a scale of "A" to "I" (i), but many feel the triple-double should be rated a "J."  

According to Tom Forster, the U.S. team's high performance coordinator, "The U.S. opinion...our whole coaching community, and judging community, believe it's a 'J.'

But why take his word for it? See for yourself:

While certainly ground-breaking, the triple-double won't be named after Biles. And other athletes will someday perform the same skill.

But she does have one skill named after her: The "Biles," a double layout with a half-twist and a blind landing. According to many, the half-turn at the end is the most difficult part since she has to stop her body on a half instead of a full turn.

The "Biles" was actually a creative solution to a problem: After she tore her calf muscle during a full-turn landing, her coach suggested trying a half-turn to put less stress on her calf. 

In the process, turning a weakness into a strength.

Which is what every successful person does. 

But every successful person also turns their strengths into greater strengths.

Simone is incredibly agile, incredibly graceful, incredibly powerful... notice in the video how high she soars above the mat. Yet in 2015 she admittedly focused less on adding new skills and more on perfecting current skills; she won some competitions over opponents with more difficult routines by out-executing them. (A perfectly performed but slightly less difficult routines scores more points than a more difficult, yet slightly "off" routine.)

Until fairly recently, when she decided to tap into her athleticism and find new motivation in performing unprecedented beam, vault, and floor skills.

Last year at the world championships, Biles' routines involved 2.7 more points of difficulty than any other gymnast. At the recent U.S. championships her routines averaged almost 2 points more in "start value" than anyone else.

That gives her an advantage over her competition.

And also plays to her strengths. Biles excels at pushing limits. At pushing boundaries. Art pushing herself.

That's her strength.

And while she's certainly focused on improving her weaknesses... what she really focuses on is leveraging her skills.

As Adam Grant notes in the WorkLife episode When Strength Becomes Weakness:

A strength is more than a skill--a technical proficiency like working with numbers or using a certain kind of tool. A strength is a broader aptitude you have (or build) for solving problems, getting things done, influencing people, or building relationships... 

We should play to our strengths--and manage around our weaknesses.

Exercising your strengths, tapping into those strengths... doing what you do well makes you feel good.

Which makes you want to get even better. 

Biles managed around one weakness to create a signature skill.

But in large part, she plays to her strengths.

Which not only helped her win her sixth national title... but arguably be the greatest female gymnast of all time.

Published on: Aug 12, 2019
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