Emily Gray, guest speaker at the Gauteng Certificate Award Ceremony
Embrace challenges and love what you do is what gets one through setbacks. Over power a setback, instead of a setback over powering you. The difference between good and great is to use disappointment and setbacks as a way forward and never settle for mediocrity.
These were the inspiring words of paralympic swimmer, Emily Gray, as guest speaker at the 2015 certificate ceremony of USB Executive Development (USB-ED) in Johannesburg. Held on Wednesday, 9 December 2015 some 270 participants received their certificates for the SMDP, MDP, NMDP and Executive HR programmes presented this year by USB-ED in Gauteng.
“It felt like my confidence was ‘cut off’ when losing my leg. In the swimming pool there was freedom and stability and to move from A to B with no crutches. Water gave me the tool to do so.”
She had a vision to represent her country at the highest level and she wanted to make it happen. “Having a vision is like having internal guidance and purpose. This came with support from family, friends and from coaches,” she said.
For her there is a parallel between sport and business. Quoting Dr Cobus Oosthuizen on the seven practices of highly effective MBA students, this is clarity of purpose, dedication, responsibility, self-discipline, honesty, team centeredness and inquisitiveness.
She used her setback as a catapult to inspire others. She had nothing to lose, so went for it head first. There was no shortage of good ideas. Goals look good from far but it's far from good to get there.
“It is the people who hold on to their perseverance to achieve their goals that is the true leaders and not just to be the CEO or the president.”
Emily has not reached her dream yet as she wants to win a medal in swimming for South Africa. She hopes to do that in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. “Nothing in life is ever detrimental and we don't have to look too far for it to find a leader such as Nelson Mandela and the perseverance he shown. It always seems impossible until it's done.”
Emily recently completed her BSport Science at the University of Pretoria. She overcame bone cancer at age 11 and had her right leg amputated as a result. Since then she has swam in two Paralympics, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, as well as in a number of high-profile international events such as the World Championships, representing South Africa as a Springbok Athlete.
She is Brand Ambassador for Nedbank, South African Sports Association for the Disabled and for SASCOC.