Today it is our privilege to bring you an interview with Double Paralympic Gold Medallist, Danielle Brown. We discuss Danielle’s journey with Archery, her advice on tackling moments of demotivation, her suggestions on a practical approach in following what we are passionate about, and much more…
How did your passion for Archery begin and develop?
I started archery on my fifteenth birthday because I wanted a sport that I could do after becoming disabled. I’ve got a very painful condition called CRPS which made getting around really tough and many sports impossible. I figured I was down to archery or swimming and playing with bows and arrows seemed a lot more exciting. I was so rubbish when I first started. I couldn’t hit the target to save my life but being back outside was so much fun and it gave me space to escape from the realities of living with a disability. This was all about my ability, rather than what I couldn’t do. I kept working at it and made the Great Britain team three years later.
What are your personal stand-out moments from your career in Archery?
Winning my first Paralympic gold in Beijing 2008 was an awesome moment. Doing it a second time in London 2012 was incredible – winning in front of my family and friends made it so much more special. I was under so much pressure to win and to be able to cope with all those expectations, clinching the win on the very last arrow of the match is a moment I will never forget.
Making the team for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi was another stand-out moment. It was a really tough year – I was in my final year at University studying law and trying to balance it with training was exhausting. To become the first disabled athlete to compete as an able-bodied athlete and to come away with a gold medal in the team event was a huge highlight.
Can you tell us more about your role as a speaker, trainer and coach?
My life has been all about breaking through barriers and I want to help others be able to do the same. Being able to recognise your limitless potential, push through adversity and achieve more is about developing the right mindset, strategies and support team.
I started speaking after I won gold in Beijing and I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. Being on the stage terrified me, but it was exhilarating. For me, it’s all about passing on strategies and tools that make a real impact to people’s lives. I am also really passionate about working with underrepresented groups, helping them realise their potential and break through real and self-imposed limitations. I love the variety of what I do, from speeches to large audiences, to interactive workshops, to really getting to know people on an individual level in one-to-one coaching sessions.
What advice would you give to someone who is demotivated or doesn’t know where to start with getting into sport and fitness?
This starts with understanding your ‘why’. We can manufacture motivation, but you have to understand what drives you in order to create an environment that you can work with. I also find it super helpful to find a training partner who is about the same ability as you. Knowing that somebody else is depending on you to turn up can force you out, even on those days when you don’t want to go. They can also help give you advice on the areas you are struggling with and hold you accountable to your goals.
Are there any specific principles that you try and live by?
Say yes to opportunities. Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t compromise your values. Bring people on the journey with you. This is all underpinned by being authentic and living life on my terms. Being authentic was something I struggled with as an athlete. My mentality was to show no weakness and I found it quite hard to move away from this and open myself up to vulnerabilities. Living my life, the way I want to and being who I am rather than who people expect me to be has made me happier and more successful.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to take their passion for health and fitness, or anything else, and turn it into a successful business/ career?
If you can turn your passions into a success that’s awesome. My advice is to figure out your USPs and what makes you stand out. Stories are powerful so use them to engage. Connect and collaborate with others, because we deliver bigger results together.
Are there any people, books, or experiences that you would be willing to share with us, that have really helped shape your mentality?
My coach booked me onto an NLP practitioners’ course, and this was the best thing I have ever done. NLP helped me become more self-aware and completely overhauled my mindset, reframing negatives and opening the door to more opportunities. What I loved about NLP was that it was very outcome focused – NLP practitioners don’t care how you end up at a particular outcome just that you get the results you want. This really helped me develop a stronger mindset and I saw better results almost immediately.
What do you think are the most important characteristics to develop in order to pursue your ambitions?
Passion, because this drives you to put in the hard work and effort. Perseverance, because no goal happens without setbacks and challenges and you have to learn how to keep fighting through. Positivity, because how we choose to see the world shapes our ability to succeed. Authenticity, because we deliver better results if we do it as the best version of ourselves.
What are you goals and plans for the future?
The future is looking exciting and I have some big goals that I really want to deliver on. I’m currently growing my speaking and coaching business which is coming together really nicely. My first book is out in September – Be Your Best Self is a children’s self-development book that I have co-authored with a nine-year-old boy, Nathan Kai. There is absolutely nothing out there like it and we hope to have a huge impact on young people, so lots of exciting developments there.