Welcome to Refinery29's Why I Do It, a series where we ask inspirational, successful people 29 questions about what fuels them on and off the clock. Because, let's face it: life is about so much more than chasing inbox zero.
It's kinda fitting that Jordan Chiles was named after Michael Jordan. They're both talented, determined, and serious about their craft — and, like MJ, Chiles is well on her way to becoming a GOAT. The 21-year-old gymnast reached elite status at just 11 years old, going on to compete at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, where she stepped in for Simone Biles, competed in the uneven bars and the balance beam, and helped Team USA to win silver. Now, she's a freshman on the gymnastics team at UCLA and was named Breakthrough Athlete Of The Year at the 2022 Name, Image and Likeness Awards. Here's why she does it.
What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up? Look at my phone.
What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed? I pray.
Power nap or power workout? Power naps. I love naps.
Early bird or night owl? Night owl.
How many unread emails do you have in your inbox right now? 105
Iced coffee or hot coffee? Iced.
What’s your favorite thing that you keep on your desk or work space? I have a mini globe — I look at all the place I've traveled.
When was the last time you felt like a success? Last week. I feel like every time I walk into the gym and accomplish my daily goals, that it is a successful day or moment. There are little goals that I give myself and if I accomplish those they are just as important as the big ones.
What do you do on those days when you don’t feel that confident? Remind myself of everything that I've accomplished and remember to give myself some grace.
What’s one thing you do every day, without fail? Gymnastics!
What’s something you wish you did every day? Drink more water.
What’s your favorite piece of advice that you’ve gotten? That I deserved to be here — a little piece of advice from my bestie, Simone Biles. We met and connected during Team USA camps, but in 2014 we started to become friends. Well, actually, more like sisters.
What’s your least-favorite piece of advice that you’ve gotten? I've never been given bad advice, just bad opinions.
Who inspires you the most? Every Black athlete that has come before me.
Who, if anyone, do you try to emulate? The Lord Jesus.
What’s something people ask you for advice about often? How to overcome difficulties in my sport. I tell them that difficulties will always be part of anything you do in life. In gymnastics, it is a daily thing. It could be that things are not going right or maybe your mind isn’t connected to what you are doing. I tell them that it is important to push beyond how you are feeling in that moment and to remember why you are doing it — never forget your why.
What’s a piece of advice you felt proud to give? I told Simone that it was okay. I said you have carried us this whole time, so now it's time for us to carry you. I said this to her after she was unable to continue team finals at the Olympics — she was sad and hurt that she was not able to continue, and I wanted her to know that she had been carrying us the whole time and to let us carry her through that moment.
What is your most-used app on your phone? TikTok.
Where do you put your phone while you’re sleeping? On the charger next to my bed.
What do you do when you feel yourself burning out? I relax and reset and then just continue on to the next day. I like to go through Pinterest and get inspired, I like to draw, but my favorite thing to do is go shopping. Taking time away from the sport is important.
What’s something you consider a secret weapon? My ability to push through when everything isn't going well.
Where are you, compared to where you thought you’d be at 12 years old? I'm exactly where I thought I would be.
If you could change one thing about your professional life, what would it be? Nothing, because even the messed-up parts pushed me to who I am today.
What’s been your biggest pieces of support, helping you get where you are? My family, my friends, and God.
What do you do to start your day? I get in the shower and close my eyes to wake myself up.
What do you do to end your workday? Relax with friends and my puppy, Chanel — CoCo for short. She is a toy poodle and I love her.
What’s the last song you listened to? "Wild Side" by Normani.
What’s the last photo in your favorites folder on your phone? Me holding 4s up in my UCLA leotard. It was created by an African-American football player who after scoring put the four fingers up to represent being a Bruin, and it just caught on from there.
If you could go back and do one thing differently in your career path, what would it be? Nothing. Every hard moment in your life reminds you of what it takes to get where you are now.