Here’s the stuff we’ve shared this week: Michael Phelps. Kwame. Michael Phelps. Kwame. Michael Phelps. Kwa… It’s amazing how our attention is drawn to the HUGE – figuratively, and in this case, literally huge – characters in our world. Last week, I suggested we consciously reclaim our focus from our obsession with condemning fallen heroes and instead direct it to our own tendency to fail or fall. (And, by the way, your blogging was exceptionally good.) This week I invite you to learn from the Olympians – our modern-day athletic, Greek gods – about excellence and the thrill of victory. How do they do it? What can we learn?
Phelps, we were repeatedly told by the sportscasters, had a vision of greatness and pushed himself to extraordinary limits. What’s your gold? Where might you be in 10 or 15 or 20 years? Imagine the power that comes from having a clear picture of success, and claiming it, now! And can you imagine emulating this aspect of Phelps’ behavior: he took the newspaper stories in which people criticized or doubted him, and he put them up in his locker – to remind him, to inspire and challenge him. He’d show them. How cool is that? Often a negative opinion can drag you down, generate self-doubt, or even lead you to give up? How awesome to take your opponent or adversary or critic and put ‘em right in front of you to motivate you. Bring it on!!!!
A change in Olympic practice also echoes through the professional world: using the power of a personal coach. If you want to excel like a Phelps, get yourself a Bob Bowman!
Or be for others like Bowman, Phelps’ dedicated coach, is for Michael. As a coach you can make all the difference in the world. Many of us may do much more good being a Bowman than a Phelps. And every supervisor should see development of their people’s talent as one of the central purposes of their existence (and I don’t even mean just work existence!). Being a great coach is a high calling. And here’s the central art: a constant balancing of challenge on the one hand, with loving encouragement on the other. Whether it’s in the Beijing National Indoor Stadium, the Water Cube, or the Bird’s Nest, great coaches believe in and challenge, support and push, embrace and drive their athletes to greatness. Get out there – set great goals, hold their feet to the fire of their commitments, and let them know you’re committed to their success.
Work like Mike or coach like Bob to
Lead with your best self!