What It Takes to Be a Champion

Michael Phelps winning

What It Takes to Be a Champion

Reading time: ~2min.

In the documentary The Characteristics of Champions, Bob Bowman, Michael Phelp’s coach, focuses on the mental aspect of champions. He says the following are some of their common characteristics.

  1. Champions have a clear plan for success, where success can be defined by them achieving their goals which in turn are part of their dream and their passion (note that a dream is something emotional. No one would get out of bed to make 100m in 40s, now, on the other hand, to become the most decorated olympian of all time…);
  2. Champions welcome challenges as means to grow. A lot of becoming a champion is about failure. What we see on TV is  but the end product of a very long process filled with ups and downs;
  3. Champions produce normal and predictable performances in abnormal and unpredictable environments;
  4. Champions rehearse success on a daily basis;
  5. Champions value the process more than the outcome because the 1st is controllable. Play the game, don’t look at the scoreboard;

“No one can be the best ever if they don’t make the right decisions on a daily basis.”

Bowman says roughly how the planning goes. Starting from the dream, we set a number of goals from there back to the present. When we have those goals in place, we create a plan that makes it possible to achieve them from each goal from now leading up to the dream. He says the closer to the present, the more specific the goals and the plan should be. For example, Bowman was able to plan what to do everyday for up to a year into the future.

As an example Bowman had Phelps list near goals he wanted to achieve, and list 3 things he had to do for each one and have him put those things in a place where he could see them often (in his case the door of the refrigerator).

He compares himself to a GPS. “Turn right.” If they turn left then it shows “re-calibrating” and an alternative route to the same place. It’s how these plans go too.

“Visualizing success for a champion is the key thing in their repertoire. I can’t see anything more valuable than them seeing the picture of where they wanna go, set up the plan for how they wanna get there, and then on a daily basis rehearse that success, because to me that is what makes a champion.”

Link to the video: The Characteristics of Champions

Have you tried any of these? How have they helped?

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