Hall of Fame Triathlete. Thirteen-time World Cup Champion. Wife, author, speaker, coach, philanthropist. There isn’t much that Siri Lindley can’t do. But, if there is one thing Lindley struggled with, it was her quest to accept she was gay and love herself regardless of her sexuality. Lindley’s path was riddled with anxiety and doubt. Through her voyage of self-discovery, she was able to embrace her sexuality and tackle her biggest obstacles: literally and metaphorically. The Boulder, Colorado-based triathlete is channeling her experiences and sharing her insight with Connect on Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 9:45 a.m. as part of the speaker showcase. Here’s a sneak peek.
You say you are the most unlikely person to become a Triathlon World Champion. Why’s that?
I was a three-sport athlete in college. After I graduated, I discovered the sport of triathlonand fell in love. But I was 23 years old and didn’t know how to swim! Triathlon at the highest levels is made up of former Olympic swimmers, bikers and runners, so this dream definitely seemed impossible. Seeing all different ages, sizes, ability levels of people all pushing themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of and finding themselves through the challenge of the swim, the bike and the run was inspiring. I knew this sport would be the vehicle through which I would find myself, which I really needed at that time.
What made you so passionate about becoming a triathlete?
I was struggling to overcome massive anxiety and self-doubt. I was terrified in my own skin and desperate to find love and appreciation for myself. This sport presented itself as a way to discover my strength, discover who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life. It was this massive challenge that, if I could bust through my fear and disempowering stories, would give me the confidence to believe in me and my ability to create something I could be proud of in the world.
You were an alternative for the 2000 Olympics. Was that bittersweet or is there a different way you would describe it?
It was devastating, but also the greatest learning experience of my life. The gift from that failure was learning more about who I was and what I needed to succeed at the highest level. I had lost sight of the ‘why’ behind what I was doing. I was so caught up in making the team and being able to make a living that I had lost touch with what really mattered: pushing myself to all new levels physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and celebrating how far I had come, rather than thinking about how far I still had to go. Trade your expectations for appreciation and see your whole world change in an instant!
Why retire on top of your game to start coaching?
I had found what I was looking for and that was, finally, a love, appreciation and respect for myself. I wanted to share what I had learned with athletes who had dreams like mine and to help free others from the stories that held them back. I wanted to empower them to believe in themselves and learn the tools and the strategies to tap into their fullest potential and make their dreams come true.
What spearheaded your road to self-discovery and how did that affect your training life as a triathlete?
The darkest time in my life was when I was a student at Brown University. Overwhelmed with fear and anxiety, I developed a case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I was seriously considering ending things when Tony Robbins book, “Unlimited Power” caught my attention. This book saved my life. I, then, realized that my experience was up to me. We can change our lives by changing what we focus on, the meaning we give things, and what we choose to do about it all. It woke me up.
How did you learn to channel your self-doubt, fear and anxiety into a force for change?
Fear, I realize, is that which mobilizes all our strength, our focus—it is a great thing. Everything amazing in life is on the other side of our fear. If you are afraid but do it anyway, that is courage. You must be willing to fail. It is through our failures that we learn the most and grow the most: both things that move us closer to that ultimate success.
It appears our society is now, more than ever, more accepting about being gay. Do you feel that’s true and does that make it easier to come out?
I am so deeply grateful that being gay is so much more accepted now and that I can speak on stages being my authentic self. I am able to give confidence to other gay people that, maybe, have not come out yet. Love is love.
What inspired you to take your story and become a speaker?
I wrote a book, “Surfacing: From the Depths of Self-Doubt to Winning Big and Living Fearlessly.” Although I didn’t do any mass promotion of the book, I got so many letters saying how impactful and needed it was. This filled my heart with gratitude knowing that I could, through sharing my story, help others become free of their suffering, or find love for themselves, or find the courage to believe in their dreams. I can’t imagine a greater gift than knowing that somehow my story has helped change someone’s life for the better.