By Brent Moore, CSCS
Olympic athletes are known for their physical prowess, their superhuman physiques, and an incredible ability to focus on their task amid extraordinary distractions. The unique thing about Olympians is that they not only have to focus on the immediate task, but they have to prepare for long periods of time, in some cases their entire lives to achieve their goals. Olympians have to remain focused for four years in order to improve on their previous Olympic achievements. Most people have a hard time focusing on goals just a few months or even weeks away. Four years is a long time to remain focused. The mindset that it takes to be an Olympian is one of delayed gratification, perseverance, and constant renewing of the mind, body, and spirit.
One of the greatest personality traits of Olympic athletes is their willingness to change and be coached. As you watch Olympic events there are coaches, friends, and family in the stands and sidelines cheering them on. These people are invested in these athletes and often have a great influence upon their performance and drive. When an athlete makes a mistake throughout their years of training, the learn from it and work with their coaches to improve. Coaches help them with their technique, their mindset, and their physical limitations. Olympic athletes utilize their support system to achieve the great results that they show every four years. They are not willing to make mistakes and instead choose to see them as an opportunity to improve. They handle the criticism of their peers and coaches in a way that allows them to improve. Olympic athletes are willing to take advice and change their ways in order to improve themselves.
Olympians are not only willing to listen to others and change things, they are also willing to put in an extraordinary amount of work in order to see the change take place. Olympic athletes will get up early for a good workout. They will measure out their food if necessary. They will work until they are physically and emotionally depleted. They will then get some rest and do it all again the next day. In 2012 Michael Phelps was training in the pool for six hours a day, six days a week. This is after he had already been the dominant swimmer at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Andre Agassi once said “Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work.” After recovering from a foot surgery, Usain Bolt began two a day workouts in order to speed his recovery to near peak performance just so that he could put forth a good showing for his fans.
Olympic athletes incredible work ethic comes from their love of competition and desire be their best. They do not settle for anything less than their own best. They view themselves as their greatest competition and revel in the challenges presented to them. Gabby Douglas, two-time Olympic gold medalist, said “Hard days are the best because that’s where champions are made. So if you push through the hard days you can get through anything.” Many people look at challenges and tough days as setbacks, but the individual’s perseverance and performance on the tough days is what sets them apart from everybody else. Tough days are always going to come, responding to them with courage and drive will make a person successful.
There are countless lessons that can be learned from Olympic athletes, likely enough to write an entire book without ever digging too deep into the implications and examples that the mindsets of these athletes create. The lessons to be learned from an Olympic athlete’s mindset can and should be applied to every individual’s personal, work, and fitness journey. You should be willing to change and learn from your mistakes. You should be willing to listen to the advice of others. You do not have all the answers or you would never make mistakes or struggle. Chances are that somebody can tell you something that you may not know and help you improve. You should embrace your challenges and you should give everything that you do your best effort. Do not be satisfied with good enough. Good enough never made a champion. Good enough never created success. If you can take one tenth of the work ethic of Olympians and apply it to your own workouts, you will see a great improvement in your progress. Go for the gold in your life.
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