• The Olympic Guide to Success: 9 Simple Tips

    ďWe all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.Ē
    - Jesse Owens

    Besides heaps and heaps of great entertainment there is also much that you can learn from all the superb athletes that have pushed the limits throughout the ages. Here is a handful of simple Ė but not always so easy Ė tips that can be applied in just about any part of life.

    1. Do what YOU love to do.

    ďThe first thing is to love your sport. Never do it to please someone else. It has to be yours.Ē
    - Peggy Fleming, figure skater, 1968 Winter Olympics

    To be motivated to keep going when people start falling by the wayside you have to love what you do. Sure, you can keep up the initial enthusiasm for something for perhaps three months. Or you may force yourself to keep going for a while longer.
    But if you donít love what you do then your motivation to keep going will run out. Willpower only works for a short while. Motivation from the outside works can work for some time. But can create conflicts within you as you no longer feel like continuing. And feeling bad within will make it very hard to achieve any outer results the represent you at your best. No matter how hard someone is cracking the whip at you.
    Love for what you do creates an internal motivation that is self-sustaining. Sure, you may have your ups and downs too. But you keep coming back while the otherís fall away or start looking for something else that may be the thing that they will love to do. That internal drive will help you achieve things that may surprise both you and others.
    The best practical advice to find what you love is perhaps just to experiment. To try many things out, even if you donít think you may like them. And then see what sticks.

    2. Climb out of the sea of negative voices.

    ďWhen anyone tells me I canít do anything, Iím just not listening any more.Ē
    - Florence Griffith Joyner, sprinter, 1988 Summer Olympics

    Itís easy to let other peopleís negative opinions slip into your mind. But remember, they are just opinions. Not fact. Even though the opinion may come from someone your look up to and respect. When faced with this problem ask yourself a few questions:
    Have they actually tried this or do they know something about this?
    Or are they just sharing their own pessimism?
    Or trying to keep everything as it always has been as change and the unknown can be scary?
    You may often realize that people are just voicing there own problems and identity. Rather than giving your accurate and experienced advice.
    Listen to what others have to say. If what theyíre saying makes sense, take it into account. But hold your own opinion in the highest regard. Make own decisions instead bouncing around like a pinball while reacting to what others tell you.

    3. Itís not always good to listen to positive expectations either.

    ďWhen youíre expected to win and you have the press saying that you are going to win the Olympic gold medal, and youíre the only sure thing in the Olympics, it can undermine your confidence.Ē
    - Scott Hamilton, figure skater, 1984 Winter Olympics

    Itís pretty obvious that not letting negative opinions into your mind can help helpful. But other peopleís positive expectations can also be damaging.
    It can put a lot of pressure on you. You may feel like you have to live up to their image of you, which can feel very constraining. But you donít have to. Your life is yours.
    It can be hard for other people to grasp this. They may feel they have a right to tell you what to do, perhaps because they have invested much time and energy into you.
    But as an adult you are your own wo/man. And the even harder part may be to grasp this yourself. To realize that you are responsible for your own life. And no matter how scary that may feel, it also means that you ultimately run your own life.
    Even if you give in to other people all day it is still you who are giving in. You are always in control.

    4. Allow yourself to be big. Donít limit yourself.

    ďIf you dream and you allow yourself to dream you can do anything. And thatís what this Olympic medal represents.Ē
    - Clara Hughes, cyclist/speedskater, 1996 Summer Olympics/2002 Winter Olympics

    Who is putting up obstacles in your life? 80-90 percent of the time itís probably you. You may rationalize it as someone else stopping you. But that is often just you taking someone elseís opinion about something too seriously and going along with that. It might be easier and more comfortable. But it is still your choice. And you can choose something else if you want to.
    Personal growth can become a struggle because on the one hand you learn and do and improve yourself.
    On the other hand you have beliefs that limit you and hold you back. You can grow within a certain limit. But sooner or later you have to change how you perceive yourself and your beliefs about your identity. Because otherwise youíll be continually sabotaging your progress to keep yourself in line with you own image of who you are.
    At some point you really understand this deep down. That you are creating internal barriers to success. That you have to be the one who decides who you really are. Not other people. Not some past image of who you were five or ten years ago.
    You have to decide who you are now.
    And then you have to open up and give yourself permission to be that person.
    Until your new way of thinking about yourself start to really stick.

    5. Donít make things harder, bigger or more complicated than they can be.

    ďAll Iíve done is run fast. I donít see why people should make much fuss about that.Ē
    - Fanny Blankers-Koen, athlete, 1948 Summer Olympics

    What an awesome quote. One of the things I have been focusing on the last few months is to not make a too big a deal out of things. Itís working well. On some days. Worse on other days.
    But itís a very helpful thing to keep in mind.
    Many movies or life-stories of successful people tell us stories of the underdog that struggles and struggles until s/he finds the success s/heís was dreaming of. Things often take time. Perhaps longer than one would hope for. And keeping yourself in underdog position can be motivating to keep soldiering on.
    It can also be a way to make things a lot harder for yourself than they need to be. Every bit of progress and action becomes a big struggle. Approaching things like youíre in some kind of battle may look cool on the movie screens. It may not be the most pleasant way to go about things.
    Your attitude towards things does to a large degree determine how you experience them. And how/if you take action. Now, things can be difficult. But making things harder than they need to be, to identify with an image of someone who makes progress inch by painstaking inch can make you feel important since your struggle is so epic. Itís a bit unnecessary though.
    If things are hard or difficult then it is most likely you who are creating much of that in your own head. So be good to yourself. Let that kind of thinking go and replace it with a less serious and heavy attitude. Youíll thank yourself later.

    6. Focus on what YOU are doing.

    ďWhen I go out on the ice, I just think about my skating. I forget it is a competition.Ē
    - Katarina Witt, figure skater, 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics

    To be able to work at your peak capacity you need to focus. A scattered focus Ė one where you worry about what may happen, if youíll win, what people may think or say Ė wonít help.
    Thinking about the competition can rattle your nerves. When you actually perform/blog/work etc. stay unattached to the outcome. Just focus on whatís in front of you. Things will become easier. Youíll create less inner anxiety and pressure for yourself. And you will perform better because you are focusing on whatís right in front of you and not weighing yourself down with a lot of self-created negativity.
    Afterwards you can analyze what went well and what you can improve. But when you are out there just stay in the present moment and focus on what you are doing.

    7. Accept that there will be days when things donít go your way.

    ďAnd then in life, you always have to try, and today, I may not have succeeded, but I am happy to have tried to beat my record.Ē
    - Noureddine Morceli, athlete, 1996 Summer Olympics

    You will fail. There will be bad days. There is no way to get around it except if you donít participate at all. But thatís even worse than failing.
    So you do. Sooner or later you fail or make a mistake. Take tip # 5 to heart. Donít make your failures or mistakes into an enormous deal. Realize that the sky wonít fall. Choose to take what you can learn from your mistakes or failures and keep moving forward instead of filling your life with imagined drama and difficulties.
    A funny thing about mistakes and failure is that you may imagine that they will crush you. And after one of them pop up in your life may feel like crap for a while. And then you wake up the next morning or the morning after that and you are still here, still intact. And you learn as time goes on that neither of them will kill you. They can actually help you in several important ways.

    8. Donít cling to heroes.

    ďIt took me time to realize that the men who won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon are just men, just like me.Ē
    Dan OíBrien, decathlete, 1996 Summer Olympics

    Sure, you may not be able to swim like Michael Phelps. But to put people you admire up on pedestals is to make things unnecessarily hard on yourself. Because everyone is human, no matter what that have accomplished. If you donít think that you can do anything similar then it will be very hard for you to do so.
    You wonít feel worthy to do so. Youíll feel that this or that person is so very different from you. And so youíll hinder or self-sabotage to keep yourself in line with your own expectations and self-image. Understanding that everyone is human can open you up to your own potential.
    And realizing that everyone fails and make mistakes can remove other mental blocks in your mind too. When you feel like everyone is human you feel more connected to people. Holding people to unreasonable standards will only create more unnecessary conflicts in your world and negativity within you.

    9. Put your work into a longer perspective.

    ďWhat I can tell them is the way you become an Olympic champion is to start working now. I tell them why itís always worth it to put the time and effort into something you want to be good at.Ē
    - Rafer Johnson, decathlete, 1960 Summer Games

    How do you become really, really good at something? The biggest part is the amount of work you put in. Sure, you can work smart too and save energy and effort. But the people that really fulfill their potential seem to put in years and years of hard work that most people just arenít willing to put in. Why? Well, I¬īd say:
    Because of the support from other people.
    Because they know that they need the challenge and canít stay in their comfort zone and just take it easy.
    But mostly I think itís because of the love of what they do.