In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss lessons of success from Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps.
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Now let’s talk about the lessons that can be learned from the success of Michael Phelps.
Michael Phelps has won 14 career Olympic gold medals in swimming, the most by any Olympian. Phelps also holds seven world records in swimming.
If you analyze Michael Phelps’ life, career and strategies, you will see how they fit in with every principle of success.
I teach that the keys to success are simple – not easy maybe, but simple:
- Get clear about what you want
- Believe you deserve to have what you want
- Visualize and emotionalize it
- Set specific goals -Take action
- Give back – service, contribution to others, add value to others
Michael became clear at a very young age about what he wanted. The breakup of his parents’ marriage helped push him into the pool. “I started swimming around the time my dad was leaving us. I was 7 and I didn’t understand what was going on. One day I got in the water and I just felt at home. My troubles slipped away; it was as if I disappeared,” he told London’s Evening Standard just last week. “Taking up swimming gave me a sense of focus that transformed my life.”
Michael Phelps decided he wanted to become a swimmer. With the help of his coach and trainer, Bob Bowman, Phelps set specific goals. He didn’t just say, “Oh, I want to go to the Olympics.” No. He decided in clear cut terms what he wanted to achieve and attain at the Olympics and in which categories. Phelps’ goals were like a missile, he knew exactly what times he needed to break the world records.
The setting of those goals helped him to visualize what he intended to create. Again, Phelps was specific about what he focused on.
Also, as a youth, Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.) Interestingly, as I have elaborated in past Newsletters and supported by studies by Dr Peter Breggin MD, author of “Medication Madness”, sufferers of ADHD usually have problems stemming from an absent father or a lack of attention from dad. Even today, Phelps is still distant from his father and it seems that his trainer and coach Bob Bowman was able to fill the capacity of a male role model and someone who helped and pushed Phelps to gain focus and to be disciplined. Bowman helped guide Phelps in business and it’s Phelps’ mother and Bowman who instilled much of Phelps’ belief in himself.
Many proponents of the Law of Attraction mistakenly fall into the trap of thinking that all that is required for happiness and success is to visualize and focus upon the goal or desired outcome. But unless you take action, you will never turn the dream into reality, it will simply remain a fantasy. Phelps took action, massive action. Phelps didn’t just wake up one morning at age 23 to be an Olympic champion swimmer. He has been training with coach Bob Bowman since he was 9 years old.
Phelps trained every day of the year; yes, seven days a week. Most Olympic athletes take off one day a week but Phelps didn’t do that. Phelps also trained over six hours a day. He woke up at 4 AM daily – with the help of coach Bob Bowman, of course. Phelps says he hates waking up early, but like most successful people he delayed instant gratification for greater rewards.
With the help of Bowman, Phelps stuck to his vision and his plan. And this is another point most people miss: you must and I use the word “must” surround yourself with people who want you to succeed, who believe in you and whom support you. If you choose to hang out with the negative people who tell you “you can’t do that” then you will become like them – someone who can’t.
In my life, I have cut people off who told me “it’s not possible…it can’t be done, etc.” Some of those people are fellow colleagues, therapists and professionals who rather than find ways to build and empower their clients, they find ways to tear them down.
The final, and I believe the most important lesson, from Michael Phelps goes against most of what we are taught in today’s materialistic society. Too many of us spend too much time focused on “what can you do for me?” rather than “how can I help you?” Too many of us focus on taking but not giving back. Deep satisfaction and fulfillment comes from adding value to other people’s lives, to serving others. When you learn to turn your attention to also contributing others, you will be filled with feelings of exquisite inner satisfaction knowing that you have helped even one other person to breathe easier.
So, yes, Michael Phelps announced on NBC’s Today show that he will donate the $1million Olympic bonus he received from Speedo to a foundation he has created to promote water safety and youth swimming. “This is a way for me to really help grow the sport,” Phelps said in explaining why he gave the prize to the newly created Michael Phelps Foundation.
This is what makes someone a success, someone who becomes such a larger human being than just a world record breaker.
If you want to learn more about the principles of success use my book, “Get what you want”, (www.patrickwanis.com/GetWhatYouWantAudioBook.asp ):
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist