There are many people in this world that we can look up to for their determination, success and ability to overcome obstacles to achieve greatness. As a source of inspiration for those who want to reach levels beyond our apparent capabilities, high-achievers seem sub-human; the lucky few who got their chances and worked hard for it.
But these people are just like you and me. They had their faults along the journey they set out on, they faced their challenges and overcame them. Despite how it looks, they struggled, worked hard and stuck with their beliefs that they could achieve their goals and dreams.
There’s no doubt about it – Michael Phelps is extraordinary. A 28-Olympic gold medal athlete who has dominated the swimming world for over ten years continuing, to stay at the top and beating all those who compete to emulate his unwavering success. But it hasn’t always been a smooth ride to the top and there are a few lessons we can learn from this great Olympic champion.
Limits Are There To Challenge You
Limitations can be the cause of many failed attempts at success. They give us the belief that what we want can’t be achieved or is too hard to overcome. But Michael Phelps is proof that his limitations weren’t there to get in his way, but instead guided him on a path that took him to his ultimate success.
At school, Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD, meaning he had huge problems concentrating in the classroom. Feeling frustrated and dejected, his mother encouraged him to start swimming as an alternative way to focus and his weekly swimming became a passion. He was finally able to channel his lack of focus in the classroom into swimming practice and finally found an outlet that allowed him to flourish.
Never use your ‘limitations’ as an excuse to give up on your dream and never let self-limitation be a hindrance to what you want to achieve – nothing is impossible.
It’s Okay To Make Mistakes. The Key Is To Learn From Them
Mistakes are an inevitable part of life. Phelps has made his fair share of them through his career, namely drink driving convictions and possession of marijuana, that led him to be banned from competitions for months at a time. While mistakes can understandably bring a lot of us down, the key is to learn from them and don’t let them get in your way of success.
“I’ll make a million mistakes in my life, but as long as I never make the same mistake again, then I’ve been able to learn and grow.”
Despite the mistakes he’s made, Phelps has managed to take stock and re-evaluate his direction showing us that, although we are human and mistakes are inevitable sometimes, it’s how you respond to them that propels you harder back onto your path. See mistakes as a honing device that redirects your focus and values. Its alright to fall, it’s more important that you get back up.
Motivation Is What Truly Drives You
You can’t succeed in anything without motivation and Michael Phelps used his endless hard work in the pool and love of the sport to spur him on to get better and better. The Australian champion, Ian Thorpe was Phelps’ idol growing up and when Thorpe claimed that he didn’t think it was possible for Phelps to win eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Phelps used these remarks as motivation. He stuck Thorpe’s words on the inside of his locker as a reminder that he was going to do everything to prove him wrong.
“I’m really proud of him not just because he won eight golds. Rather, it’s how much he has grown up and matured into a great human being. Never in my life have I been so happy to have been proved wrong.” – Ian Thorpe on Phelps winning gold in 2008.
Motivation sparks determination and is the number one element to achieving any goal in life. Motivation allows consistency and it’s this consistency that builds up your dream and makes it a reality.
Be A Great Achiever, But Be An Even Greater Inspiration
For anyone who watched this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, you will have seen Singapore’s Joseph Schooling win gold against Phelps in the 100m butterfly final and it was a humbling picture of the young Schooling standing beside his hero that showed just how much Phelps has been an inspiration to young swimmers.
“If it wasn’t for Michael, I don’t think I could have gotten to this point. I wanted to be like him as a kid. I think a lot of this is because of Michael. He is the reason why I wanted to be a better swimmer.” – Joseph Schooling
“I’m proud of Joe. I wanted to change the sport of swimming. With the people we have in the sport now, I think you are seeing it.” [I want to teach kids] to believe in themselves, to not be afraid to know that the sky is the limit.”
Phelps demonstrates that real success isn’t just about personal achievements, but by how much we can influence others. True achievers are the ones that inspire others to be better.