Olympians are one of a kind.
They are extremely fit, determined and talented. Their training and physical regimes extend through countless hours of practice, preparation and then performance – all part of the blood-sweat-and-tears package.
Many have dedicated several years of intense training and preparation just for a shot at the world stage.
And we haven’t even talked about the immensity of the sacrifices they make on the path to success.
At this point of writing, the top 10 countries for the 2016 Rio Olympics have already bagged a total of 79 gold medals, 66 silver medals and 80 bronze medals.
While the average person might not be competing on the global stage with other world-class athletes, there are many things we can learn from them to attain success and peak performance in our own fields.
1. Be willing to put in the hard, hard work
There’s a price to pay for success.
How far are you willing to go to succeed? How hard are you willing to push? Are you willing to do whatever it takes?
Coaches and trainers say that it is common for athletes to invest 4-8 years to train for a sport even before they are able to make it into a team.
2. Be comfortable being uncomfortable
For instance, runners train hard not only to reach a certain performance standard but also to build up lung capacity, heart strength and lactic tolerance (the body’s ability to sustain performance even when the muscles are saturated with lactic acid).
Katie Ledecky, a five-time Olympic gold medallist and a nine-time world champion, sleeps at 9.15-9.30pm to start her training day when the clock hits 4am.
3. Set goals
Having a dream is good, but without the actions, habits and systems in place, nothing much is going to eventuate from it.
According to a study conducted by Gail Matthews in Dominican University, individuals who wrote down their goals accomplished much more than those who didn’t write them down.
4. Get a coach or mentor
Behind every superstar athlete is a coach who believe that he/she is way more capable than what he/she is right now.
Average people learn from their own mistakes. Smart people learn from the mistakes of others.
Having a coach/mentor would not only allow you to be accountable and responsible for your actions or inactions, but also shave off a considerable amount of time from the learning process.
For example, if you could learn the insights and lessons from a professional with over 40 years of business experience, would you do it? Or would you rather go out and explore the world yourself and “waste” time making those mistakes yourself?
5. Never give up
Olympians and world-class athletes never say die. In fact, they don’t even consider or entertain the thought of giving up because they are so focused on what they want to achieve.
Even the boxing legend Muhammad Ali said “I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that’s when I start counting, because that’s when it really counts.”
Champions don’t stop when they are tired. They stop when they are done.
6. Avoid the crowds
Many athletes leave home to immerse themselves in a conducive environment for maximum impact and performance. They understand that one’s environment plays a significant role in affecting his/her performance outcomes.
It’s similar to networking – you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
If you spend enough time with champions, you would become one. If you spend enough time with sluggards and couch potatoes, you would eventually become one.
7. Failure is not final
Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone learns from them.
With the right attitude and mindset, failure is neither final nor fatal.
In fact, mistakes and failures present excellent opportunities for learning and improvement.
Dean Smith, one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, who led the United States basketball team to a gold medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympics said “What to do with a mistake – recognise it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”
Now it’s your turn to shine and go for gold!