009 - The Cycle of Success with Maureen Manley

This week we're back in the studio and are joined by speaker, life coach, and consultant Maureen Manley. She shares her journey and encourages with some tips on how you can handle life's difficulties with "grit and grace."

About Maureen Manley

Maureen Manley-Headshot,.jpg

Maureen’s exceptionalism first came to international attention as a world class cyclist.  She had no preconceived limits on what she could accomplish as a member of the US Cycling Team.  She won a National Championship, set a national record, earned a silver and bronze medals at the national level.  She won a silver medal in the World Championships and had her eye on the 1992 Olympics.  

 At the height of her cycling career, her dreams came to an abrupt halt. While racing in the Tour de France, her vision blurred and she crashed – she learned it was a result of the onset of multiple sclerosis. The headlines read, “Manley’s Olympic dream is dashed.”  The journey down one road ended.  Another began.  A journey filled with compelling life lessons that strengthened her understanding and belief in the power of the human spirit.

The courage, determination and resourcefulness that had fueled her amazing athleticism became instrumental in her healing process.  She did not let her physical setback stop her from living the life she desired. She began to understand and develop effective ways to deepening and broadening her knowledge and application of holistic high-performance strategies that would help produce the outcomes she desired.  Maureen has been able return to her cherished sport of cycling– a testament to the practical effectiveness of her methods.  

Her journey led her to become a creative force.  Maureen’s passion for excellence and her authentically captivating presence have led her to inspire and empower audiences from coast to coast. She has the ability to deliver material that motivates, educates, inspires and entertains. Her energy, insight and great sense of humor create a massive impact whenever she is on stage.

TEL 009 Transcription.mp3

Good afternoon everyone welcome to The Efficient Life I'm your host Stacy

I'm David Nelson.

And we have

Good afternoon. Great to see you both.

What kind of day is it Eric?

It's a is a glorious day.

Literally you're having to pass that word around. I am I am.

But it's literally like picture perfect Pacific Northwest weather today. Yes yeah. This is the days that I love living in Seattle.

Forget why you were complaining in December,.

Don't ask me and on January 14th I do not like living here at that point. So anyway we typically actually run a bit of an update on our Eff bucket challenges but we're going to keep you guys hanging and wait until next week on that one because we have a very special guest in the studio with us today Maureen Manley.

Hi there. And Maureen's story is incredible. It's so inspirational motivational and we really want to make sure that we have enough time. Just know that we'll just be scratching the surface so we want to be able to get into that as soon as possible so with that actually. I would love to actually just have you chat about how the journey that you have taken to where you are today. And then after we take a quick break we'll actually get into the meat of what we had to talk about today. So why don't you take our viewers on a quick journey or a quick cycle.

Cycle right. Well it's a good thing. I love speed. I love to go fast. Oh I'm so so briefly. You know when I was a little girl I loved to ride a bike and then I had a vision of wanting to be one of the best cyclists in the world and I really went after it and was on the U.S. cycling team live in my dreams. I'm really excited about going after being the best cyclist in the world. And then while racing in the women's Tour de France I lost my vision my climbing in the the mountains and crash pretty severely and I soon came to find out that I was that I had M.S. multiple sclerosis and this was 26 years ago when there was very little known about M.S. And it really turned what really was a head spin and it turned my life on a different trajectory a different life pursuit and that's the pursuit that I'm on now.

And I love it and we'll get into this a little bit further and if you get a chance to be in an event with Maureen or get a chance to see her speak just check out her videos actually we'll have links to Maureen's website on The Efficient Life dot show but just truly and I said this earlier a truly inspirational just to to work so hard and to be at the peak of what so many people work so hard for and then to be to be told something that is out of your control and you can't control. You can't train that away right you can't cycle that away.

You can't because I've tried it before.

Before we actually get into the meat of our conversation I want to actually touch on the fact that we were introduced to you by a dear colleague of mine and she presented. You have to talk to Maureen she is amazing and you're a speaker you're a part of the National Speaker Association. You're a life coach and you're a consultant so you actually spend your life helping others and motivating them to to be the best that they possibly can be as well. And I love that and using your story as as that platform in order for those people to go out and find out what what they capable That's right that's right.

The things that I've learned and the things that I've applied is really important for me to share that with other people so they can use it in all sorts of different aspects of their life and journeys.

Well and I love that you're willing to actually put yourself out there too right because that is it's a very personal story to and a very personal journey and to make yourself vulnerable enough for other people is incredible. Thank you so much for being here today. So what we're actually going to do going to do a quick take a really quick break but when we come back we're going to as I said we're going to get in the meat of it. I'm probably have to find a different term than meat because.

It is a nice day for a BBQ.

There we go but you're actually going to be talking about The Cycle of Success, Gaining the Winning Edge by harnessing the power of both grit and grace. Awesome. All right. We'll be right back.

Welcome back to The Efficient Life. Today we're here with Maureen Manley. Maureen is a speaker a life coach and consultant. A former member of the U.S. national cycling team with an incredible story to be able to share but one of the things that Maureen and I had actually spoken about in our preproduction meeting was you know you've got so many incredible stories to share and and ways in order for people to be able to better you know grow and develop. You really wanted to focus today on what you call the cycle of success gain the Winning Edge by harnessing the power of both grit and grace.

And I love that and I'm super curious because especially towards the towards the end of that that that title is grit and grace because I think we all understand grit especially when you're trying to achieve something and perform at at your very best. But how do you do that with grace and how do you balance the two. You know that seems kind of tough.

That's right. That's right. Oftentimes when we talk about peak performance and living into our potential and mastering our potential and all that kind of stuff it gets very gritty. It's like you know we think about a mental our mental capacity or physical capacity in that we just have to kind of Will our way into what it is that we want. And as I joked about earlier is if if I could do that I would have been and I tried that approach and you know that approach served me very well to become a world class athlete. I had a strong will and a strong mind and 26 years ago when I had was diagnosed with M.S. and really really really wanted to keep racing. I was diagnosed during an Olympic year. I'd been doing really well and I really wanted to keep riding because I had so much of my identity wrapped up in it and it was not only my identity it was my passion. I had worked so hard for. And so when I was diagnosed with M.S. and there wasn't any known cause or cure or even treatments at that time I thought you know if anyone can fix this I can if I can become a world class athlete I can throw all that I. All that sort of will and brawn at this condition and dominate it somehow figure out how I can dominate it. And I put a lot of domination towards it in really trying to overpower it or overthink it or overwhelm it. And it wasn't working within a year and a half time of my diagnosis of M.S. I couldn't walk unaided. I was using a cane and from going from one of the best cyclists in the world to really being challenged both with my walking ability and my sight. I was having a problem actually even seeing and it was at one point during that time I'd been doing a lot of reading and studying and really looking at what can I do to throw at this thing and what I was doing at the time. That approach was trying to overpower it and overwhelm it. And I got to a point where you know it's awful when you have to come to rock bottom when I real. When I went I got that. Surrendering isn't giving up. Letting go isn't giving up. Those are two radically different energies. And Grace when I talk about grace it really is a surrender to something larger than ourselves. And you can say that you can say a higher power and sure I believe in all that. And it's also about infinite possibilities. It's like I could only work with what it is I knew how to work with. I needed to be open to looking at something different. And so my approach really began to expand and say OK I get that I'm not fixing this thing and I'm not going to get back on the bike any time soon. I just want to be happy and as well as I can be. And this is this is a powerful thing that I came to is surrendering having to fix it and and I could open myself to a broader understanding that I can have it and be happy and well. And a big thing too that I live from to this day and teach is you can have circumstances in your life they don't have to dominate you. So I've had multiple sclerosis for 26 years you would look at me and not know it because I don't live from that place. I still have health. I still can build health and continuing to not fight it not resist it. As we all know about what we resist it what doubles down.

Yeah it's it's and I'm a pretty strong force and it's like I was it was a strong force meeting a strong force and that it wasn't pretty. It wasn't pretty. And when I could stop resisting and saying OK I can accept M.S. it doesn't mean I have to like it. Right. Doesn't have to be my new identity but if I can let go of the idea that needs to be fixed I can move forward with a new vision for myself and begin to learn and apply that and move in a direction that I wanted instead of just being grumpy about having that condition and being focused on everything I've lost.

Wow. And you were young when you were diagnosed. So I would imagine you also didn't have a ton of people within your age group that were perhaps a part of a larger community.

Well no. It was I felt and it's also like how many people out there are at the height height height of you know a national champion and going after the Olympics that have that ripped away. Right. There's not a lot of people that can understand that there are people for sure. And it I just knew that I had to figure out my way with this.

Well and that that speaks volumes to how you got to be a national cyclist right? is the willingness to to work at what you needed to do. So you had mentioned earlier like the diagnosis put you on a different trajectory than what you had originally planned. Do you think that you would've. Do you think you would have taken a similar path from a speaker in a life coach perspective. I guess that's probably had to say just don't know.

It's hard to say but what I know for sure is I wouldn't know the depth of understanding and truly wisdom and understanding and wisdom are very different in my book. One comes from experience and that's wisdom. And there was a lot of people talk similar things is as I do but I don't I don't always think they really get it right.

You're living it. Yeah.

So I wouldn't have the content that I share nor the understanding of really how to apply it and work it and really understand what the realistic approach is and the terrain you really have to travel in order to achieve what it is that you want.

And I love what you said earlier about surrendering is not giving up letting go is not giving up. Because I think we're all just inherently afraid of being seen as someone that you know gives up right and no one really wants to give up and that surrendering is is it. It feels like a huge weight would be lifted to just be like I I. I'm I'm not going to fight this anymore. Right. To the death and work within it. And you know you would you would said M.S. doesn't is not your new identity. And at no point does it say Speaker life coach consultant M.S..

Yeah you know I don't give it the energy. Yeah yeah that's just it it. It definitely has it's time and space gets to be heard. And it has a voice you know I'd like to give it the space I don't try to push it away or deny it or anything like that. But it's not giving like the people that know me know I have it and I know that I'm not going to just argue continue to argue for my limitations or what hurts today or whatever because that's not the life I want to live. And sometimes it means that I don't always get to be understood. But I'm more passionate about the life that I want. If I was so busy trying to get everybody up to speed about how tired I am or how much pain I'm in. It's like no I just want to go have fun. Right. You know I'll take care of this and people that need to know. I'll let them know.

Yeah yeah. I love that. And you've mentioned this a couple of times like living the life that you want to live not based on someone else's definition or a diagnosis definition of what your life should be. Right. Right. I love that. Well and so I asked this earlier and we want to make sure that we actually share this with our listeners is You're actually back on the bike.

I am I have been for 15 years.

Yeah. That's incredible. So it was it was it was almost a decade or over a decade. Yeah. That you are that you were not on something that you would probably you probably cycle in your sleep.


You were at the height of your career.


That must have been. What was that like getting back on the bike for something that you loved and was are passionate about.

You know it was it was absolutely amazing. And what people need to understand is when I made the decision to really live my life forward doing everything I could do with what it is I could I had to work with which wasn't much I couldn't see well I couldn't walk well. But I just had to focus on what it is I could do and in it taking me in a direction that I wanted. It's important to have. And for me at the time my vision of what I wanted from myself was simply to be healthy and happy. And so what I do. And so I kept working out at the level that I could and I would ride a stationary bicycle. And my vision would blur. So I wasn't out on the road. And then as I started to get better and better and better I ten years into my diagnosis I decided to participate in a sprint triathlon because I was capable of and its participate. You know it's like yeah if I brace my ankle which is which is challenged. It flops when I work out too hard. And I can I can do this thing. But what I realize is I was pushing myself more and more my vision wasn't blurring any longer.


And it was in through challenging myself that I realized that wow I can ride better and better and better and then I realized Wow. Well I didn't realize I questioned myself could I race my bicycle again 12 years into my diagnosis. And I didn't have the answer. So I had to sit and say well do you want to. Can you imagine all the fears that popped up I'm like you know like well I would if I didn't have M.S. if I didn't have problems with my legs if I didn't have lesions in my spine that affect the amount of power I can get to the pedals then I'd do it. It's like well you know you don't. I don't get to have those answers right. And yeah I had my challenges but I was riding well and in the quest The answer the answer to my question could you I'd have to find out and I was willing to try and I did indeed race my bicycle Yeah.

You literally go back on the bike.

I got back on a bike in a bike race.

And that's great. And it sounds like it was. It was a journey of experimentation right. We really were experimenting as to what your body could do.


And I imagine there was a mental capacity obviously the mental capacity around that too.

Right. And the thing with the mental aspect of ourselves is is realizing that's part of the grit. But our mental capacity is is is seeing our our path as it's not a pass or fail. It's all like I have a formula it's called the path of a champion. We act you do something you reflect on it and then you adjust. Maybe it was too much and you adjust and then you act again because so often people see things as a pass or fail. I tried that. I hear that a lot. I tried that it's like oh I mean how are you going to move forward if if you've done something once and you didn't back down. And so it's what I call and other people have used the term course correct. You know that's how you course correct and continue to be unstoppable it's how you how you become unstoppable is. It's not a linear event like you have right. It's not linear that's not going to be perfect. And if you expect it to be you know that's that's the trouble. So you have to manage those expectations.

Well you're a living example of someone that took something that would potentially emotionally cripple a lot of people and physically to right. But you're making it your life's work to actually use that as a platform to be able to to inspire other people. I love it. Thank you so much. So we're going to take a quick break but when we come back let's talk about some top tips some things that our listeners can take away with them today. Get inspired and dig into that grit and grace that we all have. So we'll be right back.

Welcome back to The Efficient Life. We are here on a gorgeous day here in sunny Seattle sunny Seattle. Make notes. Yes. May 22nd. And we're joined in today in Studio by with Maureen Manley. Speaker life coach and consultant. And Maureen before we go before the break we talked about the cycle of success gaining the winning edge by harnessing the power of both grit and grace. And I love that I think is the epitome of grit and grace. I love your story but let's actually talk about some of the tips that some of our listeners can take away today that they can take action on or even just start considering.

Yeah, I would love to will part of my cycle of success is. Well the first part is to have an inspired vision and for yourself a direction that you want to go and you can say I have a vision for this and this and my life and I to amplify your vision. I call it an inspired vision because I think when you look at any aspect of your life and that you want more of you want to have something you don't have yet and you want more you want more of it is to inspire it. And how do we do that. And that is to look at why it is you want this and what are the payoffs because that will give you passion and purpose and that will help you through this non-literary linear event called life and it will make you unstoppable. But you have to keep coming back to your why-s why do I want this for me. Once upon a time. Why do I want to be healthy and well I want to keep living my life and I want to be happy and I want to be productive and I want to you know unfold and fold into something bigger than just being a bike racer. And so you know answering those questions and big inspired visions don't come overnight you just start. Like I started small my inspired vision for my life now is a whole lot bigger. But you have to not be overwhelmed by just saying what you want and break it down and then look at why. Why is it that you wanted. And those are the things I'm not just just not not just the what but the whys are really important. So have an inspired vision and the next thing that I mean naturally what happens and this is where the Grace part comes and naturally what happens when we have something that's outside of our comfort zone or are you whether you call it your psyche or ego or whatever your fears start popping in. You can't do that. You're not smart enough you're not good enough you're not worthy enough you know whatever you're not competent enough you don't know how to do that and they can shut you down if you're not careful. So the second is to challenge your assumptions and your assumptions. Are your doubts your beliefs the stories you have and what I say in my workshops and in my keynotes is you know our brain. We have thoughts were not our thoughts and they're there to protect us and sometimes we need to slow down in order to speed up. So we need to slow down. I told you earlier I love to go fast in this world with all this technology we're moving so fast we don't slow down enough to look. And I've done trainings at pretty big tech technology companies and they don't like to slow down and look at this stuff. Your stories and your assumptions and your fears and your doubts it's like ahh.

Very uncomfortable.

Yeah it's uncomfortable but you're controlled by them. If you don't you can't expand into your grade or yet to be. You can't move into more of your potential if you are into peak performance. If you don't slow down and look and challenge those assumptions because your story line your narrative you need to listen to what's controlling you and sometimes if you pay attention. Sometimes all the time if you pay attention it's giving you really good information. It's telling you about really about your competency and if you don't know enough go learn to love that. Go learn. It doesn't mean that you can't. It's telling you about what it is you need in part and then sometimes when if it's telling you that you're it's too scary or you're not good enough. I mean it's scary it's like well what about that you have to dig a little deeper so challenge your assumptions because there's there's not. There really isn't anything that that can't be surpassed even if you don't let your circumstances control your help.

And don't let it cloud or roadblock your inspired vision.

Right. Yeah right. And if you're inspired vision I mean that's what happens often time you have an inspired vision that gets shut down so quickly because of the fears and the assumptions and the doubts that show up but just take a deep breath give yourself a hug bring in the friends that hug or whatever get that kind of support that you need and challenge those challenge those assumptions because sometimes it's we're letting our circumstances predict our capabilities. And it's not that's that's not how things work.

And we are often our own worst enemy. Right. And that we listen to that voice that that you're not good enough not you know it's a pass or fail.

Yes. Pass or fail. And what happens with a lot of people as they say I didn't want that anyways you know because it was so darn comfortable outside their comfort zone because it is. It is. It's but nothing new can happen if you're not willing to stretch outside of it doesn't mean you have to make camp. Doesn't mean you have to live outside of your comfort zone. You go out and that's my third thing is you don't you don't have to stay out there. You don't have to be and overwhelm all the time. You want to take actions in addressing what it is you want and even addressing your fear. So you break it down into what's one simple doable. And I'm going to say scheduleable thing that you can do to move forward with your inspired vision.

Great one simple doable schedule-able action I can take.

Then schedule because the research shows I mean I went and got a masters degree. I got to throw in some science. If you schedule it you're going to be a whole lot more likely to do it. I mean a whole lot more likely like 80 percent more likely put it on the calendar. Yeah. All right that becomes a try. People are just saying well I tried. And that just means you thought about it. Yeah. Schedule it gets comfortable get it done because you prioritize it that way.

That's awesome. OK. Well I love this. Well actually I've taken a ton of notes during a conversation Maureen and we'll have more information on The Efficient Life dot show really quick. Folks can actually learn more about you and your incredible story at Maureen Manley dot com.

That's correct.

Great, and we'll actually have all the links on how you can contact Maureen. Get inspired take Maureen's story and apply it to how you want to live your life. And don't be defined defined by something or someone else.

That's right.

I love that.

Don't do it.

Awesome Cycle of Success. I love that. All right. Well thanks Maureen and listeners we'll check you next Tuesday at 4:00.

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