Be an Extraordinary Achiever – Tips from Michael Phelps’s Coach

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QUOTE 16, AUGUST 2016

 

There is no doubt that Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, and he’s maybe the greatest athlete of all time.  Behind all great achievers is an amazing coach and today’s inspiration comes from his life long coach, Bob Bowman, who has coached Phelps for 20 years. Back in August 1997, he told his parents, Debbie and Fred Phelps that their son has a chance to make the Olympic team in 2000, and absolutely will make it with a chance to earn medals in 2004. Debbie Phelps looked at him and said, “You’re crazy, Bowman.”

He was crazy. He underestimated Phelps! But Bowman told Phelps’ parents that a plan had to be put in place right then, when Michael was 11. He needed to stop playing baseball and lacrosse, and transfer “to a school where his teachers would support his swimming efforts.” And he needed to attend every practice, both in the mornings and afternoons. It was a lot to ask, but Phelps trusted in Bob and the rest is history. Here are some golden tips for us all from an Extraordinary Coach, Bob Bowman.

 
SET A BIG VISION
Push yourself to create goals that stretch you and push your boundaries. In his words, “Being a bit out there – suspending belief – is necessary when setting a vision for yourself.  You want to establish a ‘reach’, then figure out a way to reach it.” Bowman is also a huge believer in mentally visualising performing well, daily.
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GET PUMPED UP ABOUT THE PURSUIT
As Bob says, “Achieving excellence should not be drudgery. It should excite you.”
 
 
REALISE THAT THE BEST MOMENTS OF OUR LIVES ARE BUILT AROUND ACHIEVING EVERYDAY AND LONG LASTING EXCELLENCE
Achievement should be part of your daily mission. There is little satisfaction in performing any task at a sub-optimal level. 
 
 
ADOPT AN ‘ALL IN’ ATTITUDE
If you’re going to do something, go into it full on, with maximum effort and commitment. Be positively enthusiastic, even when times are tough. As one of his swimmers, Jessica Long, the Paralympian puts it,  “The only disability in life is a negative attitude.”
 
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YOU GROW BY TAKING CHANCES, AND YOU REACH YOUR DREAMS BY TAKING THEM TOO
Or in Bob’s words, “The magnitude of an achievement will be limited by your aversion to risk.” You must be okay with uncertainty.
 
SHORT TERM GOALS LEAD TO LONG TERM SUCCESS
Use a series of short term, definable markers or targets. “Make goal setting something you can’t hide from.”....
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DO YOUR ROUTINES DAILY
“Success becomes routine when you have a routine.”
You need to make a schedule and stick to it....

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FOCUS ON THE PROCESS
Bowman’s strategy is to help his athletes focus on the process, not the outcome. You can’t control or predict who will win a medal in any given race, “but if you’re fast enough, the outcome will take care of itself.” Medals are tangible rewards, but Bowman believes that it’s more important to pursue excellence every day and to remind yourself of the ultimate vision. This daily habit will result in long-term greatness.

 
REVIEW EVERY DAY, EVALUATING YOUR PERFORMANCE FOR IMPROVEMENT
Think, consider, review, make notes. Every day.

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BUILD UP A SUPPORT TEAM THAT WILL HELP YOU
Find the like-minded to pull you through the toughest moments.
 

INSPIRE WITH IMMEDIATE, NOT DELAYED, FEEDBACK
Be honest and be quick with constructive, clear feedback.
 

IN THE DARK DAYS MAINTAIN YOUR FOCUS
Bad times are inevitable and customary. Keep returning to your vision.
 

ADVERSITY WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER
A quote from Bowman: “Practice being uncomfortable.”
 

WHEN THE TIME COMES, PERFORM WITH CONFIDENCE
The best performance usually comes when you enjoy the moment.
 

 
 Be an Extraordinary Achiever

To your quintessential success

Ann

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