‘We must live, not only exist.’ Tasha Danvers – Olympic athletes interviewed Episode 89
Tasha Danvers, double Olympian and Olympic bronze medalist shares how she suffered from depression for a long time in her professional career, how she overcame the depression through her own strength, and how she learned to use the ‘mental gym’ to her advantage.
Tasha outlines the number one trait of champions, why she believes she dragged her career on for just a bit too long, and her motivation to help other people.
Furthermore, we discuss
- Her darkest moment
- How she discovered she was pregnant just before the Athens Olympic Games 2004, where she was a contender for the Olympic title, and decided to become the child and got criticized for that decision
- Her best moment
- Her advice to a younger Tasha Danvers
- How she retired one month out of her home Olympic Games, the London 2012 Olympics
- How to use the mental gym to create a virtuous cycle
- Her success habits
- Her take on professionalism
- Her morning routine
- How to prepare for important moments
- How to overcome setbacks
- Her role model
- The best advice she received
- A typical training day in the life of an Olympic 400-meter hurdler
- Her interview nomination
- What’s going on in Tasha Danvers life at this moment in time
- The importance of knowing what you really want
- The two things that hold most people back from achieving their vision and dreams
- Where can you find Tasha Danvers
Christian: In this interview, I’m joined by Tasha Danvers. Tasha is a double Olympian who has reached three Olympics finals in total and last, but certainly not least, a bronze medalist at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Tasha: Hello. How are you? Thank you for the invitation.
Christian: Tasha, you competed in the 400-meter hurdles in track and field. The 400-meters is considered one of the most grueling events. So how much more grueling is it if you put hurdles in the way?
Tasha: It’s tough. It is really a tough event because not only does it require you to navigate these hurdles, you’ve got to do it at speed. So, a lot of events where you have to go over barriers, the pace is a little slower, so you can kind of figure it out.
The speed that you have to go to navigate these barriers is quite fast. So you have to be able to think, and you have to be able to react quickly.
Christian: I believe that.
Her darkest moment
Christian: Tasha, in your life as an athlete, what was your darkest moment?
Tasha: After the Olympics, I started to suffer from depression. My life was just going all over the place and that was a very trying time because as a sportsperson, a lot of people see you as a superhero.
So not only is it difficult for you to speak up for yourself and ask for help, but it’s also hard for people to take you seriously when you do speak up. A lot of times I would put my feelers out to see if people would understand what I was going through with the depression. However, they’d tell me that I am Tasha Danvers, so I’ll be fine.
At that same time, I was doing motivational speaking, like in schools, so people brushed it off. So when you are going through depression, it’s hard to speak up.
It’s even harder when somebody tells you not to worry about it. So you tell yourself that you’re not going to speak. So that was probably the most difficult time during my career.
When you are going through depression, it’s hard to speak up. It’s even harder when people brush it off and tell you not to worry about it.
Christian: And that was after the 2008 Olympic Games?
Tasha: Yes. I don’t remember the beginning because depression has a way of sort of sneaking in the back door. And so I think it was probably around 2010 to around 2011.
Christian: And then there was another thing I just wanted to touch on. You were a contender for the title at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. Just before that, you discovered you were pregnant and you decided to have the child and let the Olympic Games go, and later you were criticized for that decision.
Tell us about that?
How she discovered she was pregnant just before the Athens Olympic Games 2004, where she was a contender for the Olympic title, and decided to become the child and got criticized for that decision
Tasha: That was certainly not a lot of fun. In 2004, I was probably number six in the world. In 2003, I was number one in my country, so there was an expectation that I was going to at the very minimum, be a finalist at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and a very high possibility of being a medalist on the podium in Athens.
So for certain people they thought that it was ridiculous that this was happening. And for me, it was ridiculous and crazy, but it was what it was. And so there was a lot of pushback and criticism, mainly from people who were at the Federation level. These were not friends or other athletes because they understand that this is sports, after all, and life is life.
In fact, one of the journalists told me one fellow said some bad things about my being pregnant that he couldn’t even print it. So it was really hurtful because I am a human being. I do have feelings, so to know that people were looking at me like that and questioning my integrity and whether or not I cared about the sport was a difficult pill to swallow.
I am a human being. I do have feelings, so to know that people were questioning my integrity and whether or not I cared about the sport was a difficult pill to swallow.
However, at the end of the day, I know my heart. God knows my heart, so I just had to put my big girl underwear on and pick myself up and keep going.
Her best moment
Christian: What was your best moment?
Tasha: The medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics was huge for me because I had had a very difficult and unproductive season in terms of the results that I’d gotten that year. There was nothing about my season that suggested that I was great and would be in the final. Nothing about my season said that.
Then to surprise everyone, it was more of a surprise for everyone else than it was for me because I knew how much I had worked. I knew the effort and the foundation that I had created prior to all the injuries and things that had set me back.
It was more of a surprise for everyone else than it was for me because I knew how much I had worked. I knew the effort and the foundation that I had created.
I surprised people and not only got out of the heats because people didn’t even think I would get out of the heats. I tell this story a lot, but the Head Coach of the British team, when the team list came out to the media, he got 42 texts within one hour asking why I was on the team.
So it wasn’t something that people approved of me being there. And to go from that and people not expecting me to get out the heat and people not expecting me to get out of the semifinal, to then be standing on the podium was huge.
It was the first time I got a medal at the Olympic Games. To do it after I had my son was just a super fantastic accomplishment for me. I’m very proud of that moment.
Christian: I actually saw that story with the text messages that your coach received. What was his reasoning or how do I have to understand it? So there was an Olympic team of X people who could potentially go and then he picked the ones who were supposed to go?
Tasha: Absolutely! The challenge that the team selectors and team management had was that there was me, who was a more experienced athlete, but then there was a young up and coming, and very talented athlete. She had actually broken my junior record.
She was on her way, marching up, and potentially if she went, it would be a huge experience for her. She was performing well that year. In fact, she was performing, on paper, better than me.
But the way the selection works, they can select within a certain timeframe, which includes the previous year and my previous year’s time was faster than hers. My current year’s time was not good at all. So people were comparing this young whippersnapper coming up and me, the older athlete who was not doing anything.
So their thought was why not pick the young, up-and-coming and give her an opportunity to fly? But my understanding of why they selected me is because I had a history of no matter what happened, whether the chips were down, I would always somehow rise to the occasion and perform well.
I had a history of no matter what happened, I would always somehow rise to the occasion and perform well.
I’d had food poisoning before, all night long throwing up a lot, and then the next day I had won the European cup. All sorts of things I’ve been through and so they decided to go with the experience and I’m blessed with that decision.
Christian: And in the end, the coach proved himself, right?
Tasha: He really needed me to perform well on that one. But people were very happy for me, of course. People always jump on the bandwagon at the end when everything’s done. But there were a lot of people that we’re happy for me because they had seen what I’d gone through to get to that point.
There were a lot of people that were actually happy for me. There’s a big training facility in London and it’s called the High-Performance Center and they were showing the Olympics at the center. One of the people there told me that when Christine [Ohuruogu], the 400-meter runner got the gold medal everyone was excited.
But he said that when I got the bronze medal, the roof went off the place. I think there was just so much excitement because it was such a surprise and I’m a nice person, so there’s a lot of people who wanted me to do well and had seen what I had been through.
So it was a happy time. There were only four of us in the entire team that medaled in track and field. It was a big deal for me to be able to get that.
Her advice to a younger Tasha Danvers
Christian: If you could travel back in time, 10, 15, 20 years, what advice would you give a younger you?
Tasha: If I could travel back in time, I would say, go with your gut. I made a lot of choices because of fear in the past. When I wanted to retire or what I wanted to compete in, or when I wanted to compete or when I wanted to take a break. Outside of having my son, I competed non-stop. I competed non-stop for 20 years.
- Also check out the interview ‘I was 2 points short of achieving all my goals.’ with 1987 Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash, who outlines the importance of trusting your gut.
Even when I was pregnant, I was training. There were times when I wanted to rest, but I was too afraid to put the spikes down for a second. And I believe I missed out on that time to recoup and rejuvenate so that the end of my career became very stressful mentally because I just never let up off the gas.
Even your car, you just can’t keep driving and driving and driving and driving and driving it for 20 years. So, I would tell myself to go with your gut instinct. Don’t be afraid, but be fearless. If you need a break, take a break, and when you want to stop, it’s okay.
You’re talented in other areas, so things will figure themselves out. At certain points, I felt trapped in my own life because I didn’t know what I would do outside of sports. So I just thought that I got to keep doing this thing.
I got to stay on this treadmill because I don’t know what else I would do. I didn’t know who I am. So I would also learn to discover who and what you could do and build outside of your almost persona or your career as a sportsperson.
At certain points, I felt trapped in my own life because I didn’t know what I would do outside of sports. I didn’t know who I am.
Christian: Do you have the feeling that you went on for a little bit too long in your career?
Tasha: I think so. In retrospect, the best decision for me would have been if I ran one more year after Beijing 2008 and then retired and explored other things. I was just ready at that point. Maybe if I had taken some breaks prior to 2008, it wouldn’t have been such pressure and wearing down of my body and my brain at that point.
But because the next Olympics were in London, I said, this is not a wise decision to quit right before your home games. What’s the chance that the games are not only going to be in your country, but they’re going to be in your country during a time when you are fit enough and within the age range to compete?
Not only that, they’re not just in your country, they’re in your home city. So as soon as I heard that it was announced, it was like bliss and sorrow at the same time. It was like I was rejoicing that London has the Games and then I was not happy that it was happening.
How she retired one month out of her home Olympic Games, the London 2012 Olympics
Christian: I’ve also noted that down for a later point, but it fits in very well here. You just outlined, the Olympic Games 2012 were in London in your home city and you had to retire one month out of that. What goes on in someone’s mind if that happens?
Tasha: I mentioned, I was going through depression up to that point and so everything was just not connecting as it should. During training sessions, I was on antidepressants. Things were happening with my body. I could not figure it out.
I kept wondering if this was me, if I was getting old or if it was the medication. It was just a mess. And sometimes I didn’t even go out of the house other than to get food and go to the track.
Everything was just not connecting, I was on antidepressants. Things were happening with my body. I could not figure it out. I kept wondering if this was me, if I was getting old or if it was the medication. It was just a mess.
So it was just not the right environment for me to perform well. And so I’m not a person who is happy to just be a part of a team so I can say I had the shirt. I want to know that I have a chance of performing at my best.
When we got that close to the Games, and I just didn’t feel that I was going to be able to perform at my best, I probably could have made the team, but that’s not what I was trying to achieve. I’m not trying to just make teams. I’m trying to make a difference and make an impact.
I like to perform at my best. To me, it makes more sense to let somebody else go who can really do the team justice. So I just made the decision at that point to retire prior to the trials.
I felt it was good as well for the media sakes because I felt if I retired before the trials, there would be a bit of excitement and disbelief. Then as soon as the trials and the new team came out, they’d forget about me. So that’s what I wanted them to do, rather than it dragging on and on and on about why I was retiring then.
Christian: And then these emotional ups and downs that you just said, how long did they continue until they kind of flattened out?
Tasha: I can’t even remember when it all began. I think it had been creeping up bit by bit from 2009 onwards. I was on antidepressants and I think they had changed my prescription or whatever it was too many times within a short space of time.
I didn’t know that that was a bad thing, but I read later that that’s not a good thing to switch antidepressants like that. So anyway, I was at training one day and I was having a great session. Everything was going well.
Then on the way home, I just started crying like crazy from nowhere. I didn’t even know why I was crying or what was going on. Then I just decided that I’d had enough. If I can’t have a good day, when I’m having a good day, then I just don’t want to bother.
I was at training one day and I was having a great session. Everything was going well. Then on the way home, I just started crying like crazy from nowhere. I didn’t even know why I was crying or what was going on. Then I just decided that I’d had enough. If I can’t have a good day, when I’m having a good day, then I just don’t want to bother.
It’s fine if I’m having a bad day to feel this way, but to be having a good day and still be crying like this, I don’t want to live like this. And I’m sure people don’t understand why people want to take their own life. But when you are in that state of mind, you’re not thinking like your normal self. If you were, you wouldn’t say something like that.
But your mind is in a different place that you don’t really have control over. And so I just said that I did not want to live like this. They had given me sleeping pills as well because I had insomnia at the time.
So when I got home, I just took everything and then woke up in the hospital and all that kind of stuff. That was the tipping point for me. I had to wonder who I had become.
When I went on antidepressants, I had already said it wasn’t something that was going to be a part of my life forever. I was going to use it to help me just get my feet under me and then get off. But at that moment I vowed that I would not take any more of this stuff. It was making me crazy.
I know I was not like that, so I just made a decision. I was not going to be on this stuff anymore. I had to figure out how to change things through nutrition, physical activity, and mental work.
People don’t go into the mental gym as much as they go into the physical gym, but it’s as important probably if not more important. So doing exercises and thinking this all matters. And so I just went into almost like a boot camp for my mind and then I was able to shift from there.
I was on antidepressants, they had given me sleeping pills, so when I got home, I just took everything and then woke up in the hospital. That was the tipping point for me. I had to wonder who I had become. So I just made a decision, that I was not going to be on this stuff anymore. I had to figure out how to change things through nutrition, physical activity, and mental work.
And now that I know what depression looks like and how sneaky it can be, it just creeps up on you. usually by how you’re thinking. Some people, of course, have chemical and biological things going on, but a lot of people, the reason is where they’re focusing. At that time, I was focusing on how terrible the world was and how my life and everything was not perfect.
It just spirals downwards. So now that I knew what that looks like, anytime I feel the sense of this trying to creep up, I can just cut it immediately. So I’ve never had any issues really with depression since then because I already recognize it and I just start immediately into any steps to refocus my mind and get back on track.
How to use the mental gym to create a virtuous cycle
Christian: I like the expression of a mental gym, and you just mentioned the vicious cycle of a downward spiral. You think through the use of a mental gym, you can also create a virtual cycle, so an upward spiral?
Tasha: Absolutely. The spiral can go up. The spiral can down. We actually can choose which way we want our spiral to go. But it takes work just like in order for me to create muscles and toughness with my body, I have to work out.
The spiral can go up. The spiral can down. We actually can choose which way we want our spiral to go.
I can’t just sit here like and think that if the one thing comes along, we’ll see if I’m fit enough. I have to get up and do some work and it’s the same with the mind. You cannot just show up for the event and think that the toughness is just going to arrive. Or when things happen in your life, you think you’re just going to be able to handle them just because you’re alive.
You need to be prepared. You need to create this type of toughness. So mentally and sometimes it could be like calming yourself down. Some people exercise and do things that they need to relax a little.
Don’t be so high-strung. You’re in a high-performance situation all the time. You can’t be like this. You have to meditate. You have to do gratitude exercises. You have to visualize and you have to see yourself there.
How will you respond if this happens? Always try to finish with the outcome that you want. So there are lots of modalities that you can use to create mental toughness to focus on your mind and to relax your mind, whatever it is you may need.
It may be tapping emotional freedom technique or all sorts of things that you can use to put yourself in a good position to be successful mentally, but you have to work on it. It is work and it is often non-stop work because life is always happening and something new is always happening.
So when those experiences happen, you have a reaction and sometimes it’s not good. Sometimes you’re like, “ah”, but then you work on it. So those are the opportunities that you have to keep creating mental toughness. And it’s not just about “ugh!” That is not necessarily mental toughness.
Sometimes poise is mental toughness too. So it’s just finding the right balance and doing the right exercises to keep yourself in balance wherever you are, especially as a sportsperson, you’re under extreme pressure from yourself internally and also externally to perform well. And that’s the difficult place to be year after year after year.
Her success habits
Christian: What are the habits that make you a successful athlete and person?
Tasha: The habits that make me a successful athlete and person is I don’t really give up too easily. Once I’m really excited and decide I want something I will put in all the effort I can. I’m also very clear.
I don’t really give up too easily. Once I’m really excited and decide I want something I will put in all the effort I can.
To me, I believe everything starts in the mind. Once you have the mental foundation you can build from there. But I do believe even in life and in sports, whatever arena you’re talking about, you have to set a great mental foundation.
People can give you all the support, all the training, all the books, all the videos, all the webinars or the seminars in the world. However, if you don’t have the right mindset, if you don’t have that foundation, it’s just like pouring good information into a black hole or into a bottomless pit.
When you have the right mental foundation, not only do you know how to use that information and that wisdom, you can also navigate challenges and setbacks and in order to be a champion, in order to do really well, those are things you have to be able to do.
The difference between the champions and the almost champions or the everyday person is the ability to still be poised and successful under pressure.
You have to be able to handle setbacks. You have to be able to handle yourself under pressure, all sorts of things like that. And I think that’s the difference between the champions and the almost champions or the everyday person is that ability to still be poised and successful under pressure.
Her take on professionalism
Christian: I also saw when I did my research about you, that now since you have transitioned out of sports into a new career, you also took lessons to be a better public speaker to be a better communicator. So professionalism is in your blood?
Tasha: Yes, I’ve taken classes like Toastmasters, I attended Toastmasters meetings and things like that. I’m a serial learner.
I feel that if you are not learning, you are probably dead. You should be learning constantly because life is always throwing us new experiences and new things and we should be paying attention.
Even when we’re doing this interview, and my brain will be thinking, “What could I learn from this?” Or “How can we learn from this?” And so I always want to learn more.
I’ve studied life coaching. I’m a Certified Health Consultant. I’m always wanting to learn. I study Jack Canfield’s success principles. I look into the passion test, all sorts of different things out there. I just study, study, study because I know my job as a human being and as an athlete is to help other people and inspire other people.
I feel like the more I know, the more I can help other people because all things don’t work with everybody. I might tell someone that they should try visualization and it’s just not working for them. So I may tell them to try tapping or something like that.
I know my job as a human being and as an athlete is to help other people and inspire other people. The more I know, the more I can help other people.
So the more I can have the knowledge, the more I can choose and see what might work for other people that maybe they didn’t know about. When I was competing, in fact, in 2003, like I said, I was number six in the world and number one in my country and the motivation to continue in the sport just was not there. I just didn’t want to do it anymore.
Which is part of the reason why I feel like, after 2008, I should’ve retired. But the reason was I couldn’t understand what’s the point in collecting medals. Just to walk around to say that I did that? What good is that? What’s the use of that?
That’s how my mind works. Now, other people, they want all the medals. They don’t care. But my brain isn’t wired like that. I need to see the point in doing it. So my motivation to compete was just so low.
Then I was at this learning seminar called Landmark and I was sitting there and this guy, he just kept on asking me what I do. I told him I was involved in the sports industry. But then he wanted to know what I did in the sports industry. I just told him that I competed a little bit.
I didn’t want to talk because I hate talking about sports at this time because I just felt people didn’t care about me. They cared about the sport. They don’t ask me how I am doing. They ask how training is going. So nobody ever wanted to know about me as a person.
I wanted to avoid all conversations about sports. But he asked what level I competed at. I was exasperated. I told him that I’d competed at the Olympics before. He prodded and asked what I placed.
When I told him I had an Olympic medal, he was amazed. Then from this moment, it’s like every word I said, every drip of every word, he was leaning into every word.
So it suddenly clicked in my head, when you compete high, when you have a high level of performance, people want to hear what you have to say right or wrong. It’s just the truth.
And then it suddenly clicked to me. The higher I can get in my sport, the more of a platform I will have to reach and touch other people to inspire them, to then do their best to follow their dreams. And then that’s when I then had re-invigorated that desire to compete again.
It wasn’t because I could do it. It was because I could see what it could do. And so that really changed things for me. So that’s how I think and that’s my motivation.
It suddenly clicked in my head. The higher I can get in my sport, the more of a platform I will have to reach and touch other people to inspire them, to then do their best to follow their dreams.
Christian: It’s a bit like this Mohammed Ali story, where he said he used sport as a platform to outline what he really believes is important to share with the world.
Tasha: Yes, exactly.
Her morning routine
Christian: Do you have a morning routine?
Tasha: I try to have a morning routine, but I am a very spontaneous spur of the moment person. So when I am on my routine, what I do is I wake up. I have certain things that I do.
I don’t always necessarily do them in the same order, but prayer is in there. Meditation is in there; visualization is in there; declarations/affirmations are in there and then just quiet time.
Prayer, meditation, visualization, and declarations/affirmations are in there and then just quiet time.
So it’s all almost like mental work. I start the day in the mental gym and then the rest of it hopefully flows well.
How to prepare for important moments
Christian: How do you prepare for important moments?
Tasha: How do I prepare for important moments? I think really, I put a lot of pressure on myself, whether it’s a speech or an event to really deliver the best I can. I will see what I need to do and then reverse engineer.
I will see what I need to do and then reverse engineer.
When do I need to have this and that done by? What do I want to get across? What do I think will help people? And so I work that way and I will just basically practice getting people’s feedback on how they think it is.
I ask them what they think. I don’t try to just go off on my own thoughts about stuff. I like to get influence and advice from other people as well because I think differently from everyone, but there’s always like two brains are better than one because there’s always something someone says is a great idea.
And so a lot of times when I’m trying to come up with a speech or a presentation, the initial idea, unless I talk to someone, it’s really hard sometimes for me to come up with what I actually want to speak on. This is so strange because otherwise, I have all the ideas for everybody else, but for myself, it’s different.
But yes, I would just sort of stay calm and just try and really think of what I think the other person wants to experience. I make it fun, interesting, and useful. If it’s something like a performance, I may also include visualization, like seeing myself delivering it well and everyone excited and stuff like that.
Christian: And if I take you back to that Olympic final in 2008. So you step up to the starting line and within less than 60 seconds, it’s either made or broken. How do you prepare for that?
Tasha: 2008 was a unique experience because I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So when I stepped to the line, I just was very relaxed. I told myself that all I have to do is execute, which was true.
Anytime you step to any line, most of the time you would have practiced, and unless some random thing happened that you ended up in a spot that you didn’t expect to be. But for a sports person, if you’re standing at a start line, you are more than likely expected that there was a possibility that you were going to be there.
And so really all you can do is execute. I think what a lot of people do when they get into a high pressure, performance situations they try to do and think differently from how they’ve practiced it the whole time.
So they start to talk themselves through it. “Okay, I’m here at the start line now. I’ve got to breathe. Calm down. Okay, think about – foot stay focus.” And this is not what they do in their training. When they’re training, they’re relaxed.
They step to the line and the gun goes, or the coaches say go and they go, and then now they haven’t visualized themselves in this high-pressure situation. So they’re doing all this stuff that they don’t normally do.
They’re jumping around and stretching and doing things that they don’t normally do. I think the best thing you can do is see yourself there, allow the emotions that would come up to come up if you were in that environment so that when you land there, it feels natural and normal and you don’t start doing things that you didn’t normally do.
So I just tell myself that all I have to do is execute. I’ve trained, I’ve done this over and over and over. There’s nothing different. The track didn’t become longer because I’m at the Olympic Games. They didn’t put more hurdles up because I’m at the Olympic Games, so just go out and execute and allow it to happen.
I remember when I was younger, I think I was still at university at the time. I was talking to Sally Gunnell, who’s the gold medalist from the 1996 Olympic Games in the 400-meter hurdles for Great Britain.
I asked her what she did to prepare. She said every day, twice a day, she would see herself in the race at the Olympics, from every lane twice. And sometimes she would be ahead, sometimes she’d be behind and she would see herself staying in control and getting in front of the other person.
- Also check out the interview ‘Your thinking creates your feelings, your feelings create your actions and your actions create your results.’ with 2002 Olympic Champion Jamie Salé, who explains the benefits of seeing yourself performing from start to end over and over again.outlines the importance of trusting your gut.
And so that’s when I realized how important the mental side. She said when she got to the actual games, it felt so normal that she could just perform. And so that’s it.
Christian: Talking about the mental gym again?
Tasha: Yes. Got to get in that mental gym folks.
How to overcome setbacks
Christian: How do you overcome setbacks?
Tasha: How I overcome setbacks really depends on the setback because some setbacks could be small and some can be tall. So I give myself room to be human, but I challenge myself to shift as quickly as possible.
To learn from it, to see it for what it is, and then move on. If you look and study very successful people, they pivot quickly. So they make a decision and they start acting on that decision.
If you look and study very successful people, they pivot quickly. They make a decision and they start acting on that decision.
So something comes up or some challenge gets in the way they don’t stay there, “Oh, I can’t believe this has happened. This is not how I want it to be. I was supposed to be able to buy that building, now I cannot buy that building. What am I going to do?”
You don’t see successful people doing that. They tell themselves that it sucks and while it is not how they planned it, they ask themselves what they can do now. So my goal is always to try to pivot quickly in challenging situations so that I can be productive and be successful in following the footsteps.
A lot of success is not about reinventing and there’s nothing new. A lot of it’s already out there. So if we just follow the blueprint of other people that have been successful before us.
It’s very easy to find ways to elevate ourselves. We only need a person who’s one level above us to follow in order for us to start up that ladder.
Christian: That’s really cool.
Her role model
Christian: Who’s your role model and why?
Tasha: That’s a good question. I’ve never really been a role model person, but I do admire people who had accomplishments and had not had it easy to get there.
I do admire people who had accomplishments and had not had it easy to get there.
I really admire people like Richard Branson, who was dyslexic and who was told that he couldn’t achieve anything. I remember reading his biography and when he started a business, he didn’t have an office, but he wanted people to think he had an office.
So he gave them the telephone number to a phone box and told them to call him at his office at a particular time. He would run to the phone box and wait there for the calls. I like that type of tenacity and that type of drive.
He was told that his magazine was going to fail. He was told that his record company would fail. He was told that it was ridiculous to even think about creating an airline. And now millions of people travel by Virgin Airlines every single day.
This is a guy who was dyslexic during a time when people didn’t even recognize what this dyslexia was. They just thought he was stupid. And now he owns an island and an airline and God knows what else. That is really amazing.
People like that, like Oprah Winfrey, somebody who was told that black women could not be on TV. They said she was crazy and absurd. They told her to go sweep something. Do you know what I mean? And now she owns her own network.
These things are astonishing and they’re amazing. And I just have a lot of respect for people like that and especially the type of people they are. They’re very giving. You can tell that they care a lot and I think that’s what makes them successful.
They do what I think human beings were designed to do, which is to give back to help others, to use their gifts and talents to allow other people to be in an environment where they can also succeed. So people like that are my role models.
In sports, I have a lot of admiration for people like Sally Gunnell who got a gold medal at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, or Edwin Moses, who was nine years, nine months, nine days of being undefeated. That’s very admirable.
Those that have come from nothing and have created amazing lives for themselves, but also use that life to really help others, those are the people I really admire.
The best advice she received
Christian: What is the best advice you received and who gave it to you?
Tasha: There are two best advices. So one was Sally Gunnell telling me about how she prepared mentally. That’s when I really realized, that the mental side was huge. But then also my coach said to me before every race “go have fun.”
That really allowed me to take the pressure off and put things in perspective. This is a sport; it’s fun. It might be a career, but it should be fun. So that allowed me to just go out there and have fun.
My coach said to me before every race “go have fun.” That really allowed me to take the pressure off and put things in perspective.
Because I like fun. Fun is my middle name. So that was something I think the best advice. It really, really helped me go out and perform. So even in high-pressure situations or if you’re giving a speech, I think always a good thing to say is to go have fun.
Yes, you want to perform well. Yes, but at the end of the day, you’re a human being. You probably won’t do it perfectly. Everyone will still love you. Everything’s going to be okay, just go have fun. And people could feel that energy from you. So it makes a difference.
I like fun. Fun is my middle name.
Christian: Yes, really cool. What’s the name of the coach to give him some credit?
Tasha: It was actually Darrell Smith, who was actually my husband at the time. We’re not married now, but he knew how I was and so he understood that to tell me to just go have fun would really be significantly helpful.
A typical training day in the life of an Olympic 400-meter hurdler
Christian: Back in the days, how did a typical training day look like?
Tasha: I felt like there was no real typical training day because we’re a 400-meter hurdler. You have so many elements to your training. You could be having weights or you could be lifting in the gym or it could be a running session.
It could be a sprint session. It could be a long session. It could be a hurdle practice drills. It could be a long-distance drill session because it could be any number of things. But normally you spend about an hour and a half to two hours in the gym and an hour and a half to two hours on the track.
And then any other thing that you might do, as I would often do the salt bath, like the floatation tank, those types of things and physiotherapy, doctors, anything like that that you might need to do. And then any mental work that you need to do.
Her interview nomination
Christian: Do you want to nominate someone to be interviewed?
Tasha: Oh yes. Maybe Edwin Moses might like to talk.
Christian: Wow. That would be really cool. I’ve actually spoken to Kevin Young, so hearing Edwin Moses would be cool as well.
Tasha: Yes. So you can ask him or I’ll ask him.
What’s going on in Tasha Danvers life at this moment in time
Christian: What’s going on in Tasha’s life at this moment in time?
Tasha: I’m a Certified Health Consultant and so I just want people to have a healthy heart, a healthy mind, and a healthy body. So I give people and your viewers as well, if they’d want to get in touch, I do a health assessment.
I want people to have a healthy heart, a healthy mind, and a healthy body.
I can do a free health assessment for your viewers, where we kind of dig down because sometimes we think we want certain things in life, but when we really tuck into it, it’s not what we really want.
So we have to get clear about what it is we say we want, what it’s going to take to get there, and then figure out is that what we really want? And if it’s not, then what should we do and what steps to take?
A lot of people don’t do well when they’re trying to achieve stuff because they don’t know how to implement new habits. They say the first of the year, I’m going to get in shape and then by February, just eat potato chips and everything’s back to normal.
It’s not because there’s something wrong with them. It’s because people don’t know how to create new habits. And so what I help people do is step by step at their own pace in their own time, give them the tools that they need to start actually making a change that will last. And that’s really what I’m up to now; helping others to achieve their goals.
The importance of knowing what you really want
Christian: And I think it’s really important what you say about, sometimes people think they want something, but if you dig a bit deeper, it’s not. There’s the saying, “be careful what you wish for.” So people sometimes wish for something, then they get it and then they realize that it’s not what they signed up for.
Tasha: Yes. And I think also we have so much outside pressure of what life is supposed to look like, but that’s not for everybody. Everybody thinks that you should go to college, go to university, get married, have a few kids, stay in a good job, work 40 hours a week, retire, then die.
For a lot of people, this is the ideal life. But it’s not for everybody. Imagine if Richard Branson stuck to that. The world would lose out on a lot because that’s not what he was called to do. He’s called to do what he did.
You even, you’re here doing your interviews. This is not a regular nine to five, but you’re making a difference with what you do because people hear all these perspectives of people who have achieved and it helps them and it inspires them.
So there is no thing that we’re supposed to do. I think what happens to a lot of people is they squash their dreams because they feel like it doesn’t fit into this box that their family or their friends approve of.
They say that so much talent is in the graveyard or cemetery because people die with the thing that they were supposed to do because they’re busy living a life that other people approve of. It’s not the way to live. We must live, not just exist.
People are busy living a life that other people approve of. It’s not the way to live. We must live, not just exist.
Christian: Yes, for sure. And that actually keeps me thinking because I saw you on your YouTube channel, currently, you are having every other day, you give a motivational message.
Tasha: Yes, so what I’ve started doing and what I try to do consistently is Monday through Friday, I do what’s called ‘A Daily Dose of Danvers’. I don’t have any right here with me, but I might have a card deck or something like this and I’ll just read one and I don’t really look at it before.
I just speak from the heart to whatever comes and just say something from my own mind about what I think about this topic. And just hope that even a little inspiration or a little word that I say may inspire someone to be their best selves.
The two things that hold most people back from achieving their vision and dreams
Christian: And then one thing that just came into my mind when I was watching some of the videos today is like, often you see people they know, or at least, think they know what they want. They have dreams, but then making the step to put the dream into action tends to be a bit difficult. What do you think holds most people back? The vision seems to be clear, but then they don’t know what to do next.
Tasha: I think it’s fear, number one, and confusion, number two. They’re afraid. What if I do this and it fails? And okay, this is what I want to do, but I have no idea where to start.
Fear and confusion are what holds most people back.
If we’re really honest with ourselves, there’s not a lack of information in the world. You can click on Google and you can answer pretty much any question on the face of the planet at this point. It’s what to do with the information that you have.
So you can have all the information in the world, but some guy says that eggs are good for you and another guy says eggs are bad for you. Who do I listen to?
I remember reading a story that Jack Canfield had mentioned in his training and he said that there was a guy who somebody was telling him that he should be vegan. He told them that that was ridiculous and he was not going to do that.
He suddenly realized that he knew nothing about being a vegan so why should he be against it. And so the guy made the decision that anything in his life that somebody said was good or this or that, he would try for 30 days. And then he would make a decision about whether or not he was going to continue with it.
So he tried it for 30 days and he said that he felt a lot better with living and eating that way. So this man who went from “this ridiculous vegan! Just get out of here right now”, all of a sudden he’s like, “Yes, Mr. Vegan.”
So sometimes we just need to clear our own thoughts about stuff and just maybe try something on. And the only way, if you read a book called “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers, it just talks about this.
It talks about how you’re going to have fear, even in things where you’re super talented, but you have to do it anyway because it’s in the doing that you start to build that confidence of what’s the next step and who you should talk to. People would not believe this, but I am a shy person by nature.
You see me now, you would say that you don’t believe me. But it’s true. I was so shy. I didn’t talk to anyone when I was 14 unless I knew you very well. But when I was 14 years old, I don’t know what clicked in my little brain but I suddenly realized that I was missing out on so much by being shy.
I didn’t get to meet people. I didn’t get invited to stuff. I didn’t have access to conversations and stuff like that because I’m in the corner in the back. And I just decided, you know what, I’m not going to be that way. But in terms of building that confidence, I was shy.
And so I was asked to speak at my school assembly and I had a piece of paper in my hand and the paper was shaking like crazy. So I had this paper shaking in hand and I’m trying to talk and I can’t read this thing at all. You know, you’re a kid you want to be cool. You want people to like you.
The whole front row starts seeing the paper shaking and they’re snickering and so that laughter starts to spread. And the more they’re laughing, the more I’m shaking. But I did not say that I am never going to speak again. I said just the opposite that I’m going to try again.
So next time I put my words on cardboard because I said that can’t shake. The cardboard was like shaking. I couldn’t see it. I wondered what was wrong with me. And then I said that I was still not going to give up.
So next time I tried to remember. I told myself that I was going to remember because my brain can’t shake. But then when I got up to the stage, I forgot what I was going to say because you know the nerves, but I still didn’t give up.
I just kept learning how to do it. That’s why most of the time when people see me speak now, I don’t usually use PowerPoint or any of this stuff. Because I have been doing it since I was a teenager, just speaking from memory.
There’s not a lack of information in the world. It’s what to do with the information that you have.
I just say all that to say, in the beginning, even someone, me, who’s spoken all over the place to thousands of people, in the beginning, I couldn’t say a sentence without shaking to death. But I decided this is what I want to do. So I’ll just keep working until I get there.
So you have to feel the fear and do it anyway. Another good book to look at is called “The Five-Second Rule” by Mel Robbins. It really tells you, “Listen, sometimes you just got to go for it.” Don’t give your brain time to question it because the brain is designed to help you survive.
And so if the brain tells you things like if you go on stage, they’re going to laugh at you, it’s going to be terrible and you’re going to be embarrassed, you’re going to talk yourself out of it. So you five, four, three, two, one, and you go.
Where can you find Tasha Danvers
Christian: Tasha, where can people find you?
Tasha: Best place to find me is Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, as my social media hubs and you can find me on my website. It’s been re-done, but that’s where you’ll find. So whichever medium you want to stay connected, that’s where you find the links.
Tasha Danvers’ social profiles
Christian: That’s pretty cool, Tasha, thanks a lot for your time. It was awesome.
Tasha: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.