Step Into Your Leadership

Are you allowing circumstances to define your future?


Kim Hamilton-Anthony was the first African-American woman to receive a gymnastics scholarship to UCLA, and later was inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame. Growing up, she faced many obstacles, including a drug-addicted father, financial struggles at home and constant negativity from gymnastics coaches who told her she didn’t have what it took to succeed in a “white girl’s sport.”

Watch this video to learn how Kim rose above the challenges she faced and stepped into her leadership, with help from a key influencer in her life: her mother.

As an athlete, I had great role models in terms of leadership. But probably, the most important leader that I've ever met and who's been a part of my life is my mother. Now, she was forced to step into leadership in my home with the absence of my father, and she did a tremendous job. It was like fighting an uphill battle on roller skates for her. She did not let it deter her though. She knew how to turn adversity into adventure. There were times when we were in situations that seemed hopeless, literally hopeless, and she turned it around somehow.

For instance, there was one Christmas she didn't have money to buy Christmas gifts for me. I was a teenager. I think I was about 16 or 17. And instead of having a bare tree, she still had a bunch of presents wrapped underneath that tree. And they were beautifully wrapped. And in each one of those boxes, she put a small note. And on that note was written what she would have gotten me if she had the money to do so. And we literally sat on that floor that Christmas morning, and we pulled out these pieces of paper. And the majority of it was clothing, sweaters, pants, jeans, things like that, because as a teenager, that's what I wanted. And we matched the outfits. We matched shirts with pants and sweaters and jackets and things like that. And we literally turned what could have been a hopeless situation into this wonderful adventure. And what that did for me was that made me understand the importance of patience. It helped me to know how much my mother loved me and cared for me. And probably, the biggest lesson was that I didn't have to let my current circumstances define my future. There would always be hope.

So I was able to take that lesson of not allowing your current circumstances to define your future and apply it to my days at UCLA. When I first set up foot on campus, I looked around and I didn't see very many people who looked like me at all. Even though I had trained among white gymnasts, I grew up in an environment that was predominantly black. My high school maybe had a couple of people of other ethnicities in there. And I step into UCLA, and I think, "Where am I? And how in the world am I going to fit in?" I wanted to go home right away. I called my mom. I said, "You know what? I don't think I can make it here." And she always told me, "You have to crawl before you can walk, Kim. You can do this."

And if I would have allowed those circumstances of me setting foot on that campus and being so intimidated by all those people who didn't look like me and who came from socioeconomic backgrounds that were far different from where I was, I would have lost out on a lot of opportunities. But instead, I didn't allow those circumstances to define my future. I instead tackled them. I moved forward, and I remained at UCLA. I carried out my four-year career and experienced some amazing things.

A leader is a person who can help you see beyond the obstacles that are right there in front of you and into a future of hope and of purpose. If you're able to do that with your team, then they will follow you wherever you want to lead them.

Kim Hamilton-Anthony

Kim Hamilton-Anthony was the first African-American woman to receive a gymnastics scholarship to UCLA, and later was inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame. Kim is a four-time U.S. National Champion, and today serves as chaplain for the ...

Take Action

Complete the following Action Items to put the insights in this video into practice,
and share them with your team to continue your leadership growth.

Perfect your new leadership skills every day with these exclusive Leadercast exercises, available to Subscribers! Click here to become a Subscriber.

Liquid error: No such template 'platform/programs/search-modal'