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Jessica Clayton on staying strong no matter what obstacle you’re handed

The mom of three has faced challenges on and off the course.

John Parra/NBC

“All of this has not been in vain.”

That’s one of the powerful statements Jessica Clayton made in her application video for season 10 of American Ninja Warrior. The single mom of three kids is a member of the Army National Guard and, as we learned over the season, had been living in the car with her family.

What was most important to Jessica was showing her kids strength and perseverance. She’s done that both in life and on the Ninja Warrior course. Her first season on the show ended with a quick run in Daytona Beach during season nine. Jessica then took part in Ninja vs Ninja. Back for season 10, she honed in on the Miami course, making it all the way to the Slippery Summit and moving into the City Finals.

There, Jessica was one of the many victims of the Cannonball Drop, but her mark has been made. Her work has absolutely not been in vain.

Before her run in Miami, Jessica gave us a few minutes of her time to talk about the mental strength she uses on all the obstacles in her life.

“It’s given me confidence. Doing Ninja, you have good days and you have bad days. You have good runs. You have bad runs. But everybody is very encouraging. When you do something, when you accomplish something good, it gives you extra confidence. I try to take that into the rest of my life.

Don’t be afraid, or, even if you are afraid, do it anyway. I’m going to take a deep breath and push through it. Even though this might have been a bad day at work or whatever I’m dealing with, tomorrow is a new day. Try again. Shake it off and not worry so much.”

Jessica hasn’t been alone in her Ninja journey. She trains at NinjaQuest in Atlanta and credits the community with keep her motivated.

“I get a lot of inspiration (from other Ninjas), that’s the biggest part of why I still do this. They’re very welcoming. They teach. They tell you that you did a good job and it’s okay. Try this next time. From pretty much everybody.”

As someone who’s familiar with adversity, Jessica understands the importance creating a mental mindset that allows her to navigate whatever is thrown at her.

“You have to have the mental capacity to push past the physical limitations. If you’re too afraid to even try something, that’s the biggest killer. You get to something and you look and you’re like, ‘I’m going to do what? I’m going to jump and hang, and I’m going to fall.’ If you can’t get past that in your head, you can’t even physically try the obstacles.

I don’t think as a society we’re used to doing that. They have mindfulness. They have meditation. I’ve been trying to get into that. Yoga. Tai Chi. Meditation is very hard. It’s not a very easy thing to just sit and keep your mind blank. Tai Chi is more like a moving meditation, so I try to practice. Not as regularly as I would like to be. But those are the things I’m working on.”

Jessica’s not done with her Ninja career yet. She’s pushing herself to expand her skills and gain even more strength, setting herself up for success in everything she pursues.