Lessons to Learn from Olympic Athletes

Every four years, we get to see the best of the best of the best compete. The Olympics is so interesting, because the athletes have few chances to win medals in their lifetime. In almost every other sport, you get a new season each year, but in the Olympics, it’s do or die. Lose and wait close to a half-decade for your next opportunity.

Every year I cry with those athletes who break down on the podium while holding their gold medals.

Image from Google. From Left: Emese Szasz, Ryan Held and Sarah Sjostrom

And I also cry with them who were not able to make it this year.

Image from Google. Jaqueline Endres

And then I wonder, what sort of training could have possibly made them so emotionally strong, what motivates them to train like crazy for years and shed their last drop of blood in a competition like this. I was determined to find out all about their ‘mind secrets’ and wanted to know if there is any tricks that we could learn and implement in our daily lives. Fortunately, I found ten.

Today I will share those lessons that we can learn from the world’s greatest athletes in the world’s greatest athletic showcase.

Love the work for the sake of the work

For every Michael Phelps, there are hundreds of Olympic athletes who don’t make sizable incomes. Olympic athletes train and compete for love of their sport. It’s why they’re so endearing.

We all want to make a full time living from what we love. But that might not always turn out to be the case. There’s none of the pretentiousness you see with professional athletes. The Olympics represent sport in its purest form. If  you want to be a writer, write for joy. Write to make a difference and get ideas you believe in to spread. Don’t write just so you can create a course or get a book deal. People can tell if you’re being sincere or not.

Work, Work, Work

Imagining practicing your craft for 4 long years every day and night. That’s what it’s like to train for the Olympics.

Sure, there’s world championships in between, but reaching the podium is the holy grail Olympic athletes are really shooting for. The medalists get there by incessant practice — shaving milliseconds off their start, jumping a half an inch higher, repeating routines until they’re woven into their muscle memory. Many of these athletes dedicate their entire existence to practice and do little else.

Each time I feel like complaining about my lack of ‘speedy success’ in my craft, I remind myself how much practice and time it takes. I guarantee you there is always room to practice more than you are right now. Make your effort match your aspirations.

Get Obsessed with your goals

We’ve all heard the stories how Olympic athletes literally eat, breathe and sleep their sport. Life is focused on one thing: becoming the world’s best at that sport. Obsession is part of achieving goals. As average performers begin to forget what their goals are because of a lack of exposure to them, the pros are imbedding their goals deep into their subconscious minds daily. Their minds are like guided missiles, always adjusting and correcting to maintain accuracy toward the target.

Have a sense of Emergency

Most of us operate like there is an endless amount of time in a day, week, month, year and life. Olympic athletes are extremely sensitive to time. They have a sense of urgency because they are operating at a level of awareness that constantly reminds them the present moment is all they really have. They’re on a mission to fulfill the dream of winning the medal, and they know the clock is ticking.

An Olympian gets one shot every four years, and can realistically compete for two or three Winter Games. Life is short, and if you’re going to make something happen, now is the time.

Take Care of Your Body

Olympic athletes keep strict diets to keep their body in peak condition for competition. You can’t eat fast food 3 times a week and win a gold medal. Sure, most of us are not athletes, but productivity and health are greatly tied to each other.

In our daily lives we’re consumed with both personal and professional stressors. Time off and life balance are key factors in performance cycles, as are massive influxes of effort. Getting more sleep, eating healthier, working out regularly, taking care of the mind are extremely crucial to produce quality work.

Believe in Yourself

Ask any Olympic athlete from any country competing in the games how they expect to place in their competition, and every one of them will tell you they expect to win the gold. That’s because faith has always been a hallmark of world-class performers – most notably the faith performers have in themselves.

It’s so difficult to see yourself in a place of success when you’re nowhere near reaching it. Mastering your mindset is just as important, if not more, as mastering the craft. Olympians have an extremely high-level of trust even when they are failing or going through a slump. This faith in self may stem from being raised in a positive environment, or from performers talking themselves into it. Muhammad Ali admits he told the world he was the greatest before he truly was as a way to bolster his faith in his own skills.

The difference is champions like Olympic athletes have faith in their goals and dreams while most people are often deathly afraid of believing in something that may or may not happen.

Have Patience

To be successful in any career you need to work hard and practice, but the most important trait anyone can have is patience. Building a career is a marathon, and most of us burn ourselves out (way) before we even succeed.

Multiply the length of time you think it will take you to succeed in your career times ten. It’s hard.

I haven’t yet mastered patience, but I keep trying, because I know there’s no other way. I have to remind myself to stay steady and avoid burning out — every.single.day.

Compete With Yourself Only

I like the fact that the Olympics includes so many individual sports. Individual athletes compete with themselves only. In sports like swimming and track and field, you aren’t trying to penetrate your opponents defense. You’re just doing the best you can, and the best wins. It’s pure.

You’re the solitary athlete. You train constantly to prepare for your next big shot. Each blog post or book you write is an attempt at reaching your “personal record,” for quality, craftsmanship, and excellence.

If you look in the other lanes during the race, it’ll slow you down. Keep your eyes forward and run to the finish line.

Invest and get a Coach

Some people scoff at hiring a coach or taking a paid course because they think it’s just as easy to find helpful information online for free. This comes from a scarcity mindset.

Are we so gifted that we can’t benefit from training or coaching?

Do we know something the world’s most successful people who use coaches don’t?

You can spend endless hours, months, maybe even years of your life trying to figure everything out on your own, or you could get help.

Olympic athletes work with the best trainers.

Internet marketing draws its share of seedy characters, but there are coaches and training programs with honest intentions to help you. I’ve paid for membership websites to help me improve my craft on a regular basis.

You’re smart. Do your due diligence, and invest in yourself.

When you watch the games this week, think of the dedication, time, and energy these athletes put into preparing for their events. Think of the mindset it takes to train four years for a race that lasts ten seconds.

I am sure that If we work even half as hard as an Olympic athlete, we’ll make it till the finish line.


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I am a Software Engineer by profession. I'm ever curious to find the latest technology in the field and put it to good use. Quite a bit of my free time goes to learn different tools and technology.I enjoy development for Linux, building/leading teams, and contributing to different open source projects. Even though I have a very wide range of interests when it comes to build software, my current focus is on Frontend development. I am thrilled to work with HTML,CSS,JS, JQuery and Ajax like concepts. I also love to read, write, travel and cook.

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