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Michael Phelps' 8 golds at Beijing 2008
Kris Heap in Habits , Persistence , Vision July 21, 7 Comments 16, Views The summer Olympics are almost upon us and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on one of my favorite moments in recent Olympic history. We all remember the scenes from 4 years ago when Michael Phelps broke just about every Olympic swimming record there was. He won 8 gold medals in Beijing in dramatic fashion. But the race that I found the most impressive was the meter butterfly. In this race, Phelps was going for the 10th gold medal of his career, making him the winningest Olympian of all time. Phelps already held the world record in this event and was looking to improve on his previous time. All indications were that he would win by a comfortable margin. As soon as he dove in, his goggles slowly started filling with water. But he continued on. He looks comfortable as he swings his arms in perfect motion. With a few meters to go he makes one last stroke and then stretches out for the wall at the perfect distance, not being able to see if it was even there. When he looked up at the clock he had not only won the gold medal, but broken the world record. I was just hoping I was winning. At the most elite level of competition, Michael Phelps overcame an obstacle that would ruin the chances of many others. How did he do it? The answer partly resides in a habit that Phelps performs before every race. Shortly before the race begins, Phelps has the habit of closing his eyes and envisioning the entire race, stroke by stroke, from start to finish. He pictures himself making the perfect stroke every time. He sees exactly how many strokes he will need to get from one wall to the next. And when an obstacle came up, he could deal with it because he knew he could perform even without seeing the wall in front of him. He knew how many strokes it would take, when to take breaths, and when to stretch for the finish. Here is how you do it: Set aside anywhere from minutes. Close your eyes and picture the ideal life. The more detail the better. Focus on how it feels to have accomplished these things. Repeat the same exercise every day. Within a matter of days you will feel more confident and focused than you ever have. This is the equivalent of what Michael Phelps does before a race. It is a practice to develop your vision of where you are going in life. Your big problems will seem to shrink into smaller obstacles. Take the time to develop and strengthen your vision and you too will be able to meet your own goals, break your own records, and win your personal gold medal. See you in the pool!
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