The majority of us will never wear the title ‘The Greatest Ever’, however, it doesn’t stop us from understanding what it takes to reach that level. In fact, being aware of the space between where you are and the highest level that has ever been reached in your career can be surprisingly gratifying. With the 2016 Rio Olympics currently winding to a close, let’s consider the story of the greatest swimmer in Olympic history.
Before we dig into the case of American Swimmer Michael Phelps, it’s worth noting South Africa is having arguably its best Olympic Showing since being readmitted to International Olympic competition in 1992. Due to the International Olympic Committee’s position on Apartheid, South Africa was barred from competing from 1964 to 1988. Minus a twenty four year track record to draw upon this Country’s athletic prowess and mastery is fairly new to the global stage. From Wayde van Niekerk’s World Record Breaking 400m run to Chad le Clos to Caster Semenya, the medal count being accumulated tells a story about the identity of a nation. SA has won more medals in Rio than any other Olympics since 1952. At the time of going to print, with 4 days remaining in this year’s Olympics, SA has already won seven medals, which means, if Semenya wins the 800m, she would put a stamp on 2016 being South Africa’s greatest Olympics since Democracy began.
Sports is a wonderful resource for the workplace to learn from. The greatest companies in the world and the greatest athletes have much in common- the success patterns are strikingly similar. Hard work, commitment and team work are all apart of the path to medal winning and achieving organizational success.
Sports writers the world over are in awe of Michael Phelps. As Phelps depart’s Rio, he’ll leave as the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 28 total medals (with a record 23 Gold Medals), which began in Athens 12years ago. Phelps is statistically the greatest athlete in Olympic history, so what can the workplace learn from this great Champion? Here are three Key Lessons from the life of Michael Phelps. Firstly, adversity will always be there. At nine years old, his parents divorced, creating a major identity challenge. In 2004, at the ripe athletic age of 19, he was arrested for drunk driving. After being sentenced to probation, he was inspired to prove to everyone he let down that he can rebuild himself and contribute back to society, which he did. Returning better and stronger while inspiring youth across the world. Instead of asking why me when adversity hits, ask, why not me and grow from it.
Secondly, tough leadership is good for you. Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman was known to have a military drill sergeant style. When asked about Bowman’s punishing training style, Phelps’ noted, “Training with Bob is the smartest thing I’ve ever done … I’m not going to swim for anyone else.” And lastly, work harder than your competition. Phelps’ workout are the stuff of legend. He is known to have worked out the entire year not taking time off, believing if everyone took one day off, he would have a 52workout advantage. Many trainers believe the body needs recovery time but perhaps Phelps trained his mind otherwise. Either way, if you as an employee or your team adopt the mindset of being the best by working harder and smarter than the rest, it’s bound to pay off.
The gap between where you are and being the best is probably not as wide as you may think. Do the research and measure the distance and then go for gold.
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