Most of us will never know the heights—or depths—Marion Jones has traveled. At the peak of her career, the sprinter was going after five Olympic gold medals, making millions from endorsement deals and charming everyone with her irresistible smile. At rock bottom, she was an admitted liar, stripped of her medals and serving six months in prison.
Not to understate things, but she has packed a lot of living in her 41 years. “I suspect it’s made me a bit wiser than most people my age,” says Jones, who staged a short comeback as a professional athlete, playing for the WNBA several years ago. For her, sharing this hard-earned wisdom is the key to making sense of her missteps and redeeming them, and so she mentors girls through an empowerment group she founded as well as travels the country to speak, including this November 2, at the TX Conference for Women.
Here’s what Jones, co-author of On the Right Track: From Olympic Downfall to Finding Forgiveness and the Strength to Overcome and Succeed, wants you to know:
Don’t Rush a Tough Decision
“There are several moments when I wish I had stepped back and considered all the consequences of the choices in front of me. If I had, things probably would have turned out differently. That’s a big part of my message to people. When faced with a hard decision, whether it’s to cheat or about something that’s important, take a break before choosing.”
Courage Isn’t About Physical Strength
“Instead, it’s relative and depends on what you’re facing. I have seen that it can be walking into a new school on the first day—and it can be a woman in jail, seeing her children for the first time in 10 years, though she’s afraid they won’t recognize her. Both took a lot of courage.”
The People Around You Matter
“At some point, I let the people who were hard-nosed and who held me accountable for my actions become distanced from me. But those are the people who have your back and you want as your support network. They are the ones I’ll now ask for one word from, to help me get through a tough day.”
The Biggest Regret from Making a Bad Choice Isn’t What You Probably Think It Is
“More than anything, I am sorry for losing certain relationships. Though you tuck your tail between your legs, some people can be so disappointed that they can’t forgive or forget. The guilt of having let so many people down…it’s still a struggle for me at times. But I like to think that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”
Winning Is Really About Connecting with People
“For me, a winning journey is inspiring people with your story and doing something impactful. Happiness is not based on what you have or what you can get. It’s what you do to help other people.”
In addition to speaking at the 2017 TX Conference for Women, Marion Jones, who is a partner trainer at Camp Gladiator, will be leading a total body workout at 4 p.m.