Advertising

Great Achievers Do Not Come From A Smooth Path

Advertising
Great Achievers Do Not Come From A Smooth Path

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

Advertising

Michael Phelps 2

    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

    Advertising

    Michael Phelps 7

      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

      Advertising

      Michael Phelps 6

        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

        Advertising

        Joseph Schooling and Michael Phelps

          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.

          Advertising

          More by this author

          Jenny Marchal

          A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

          How to Celebrate Small Wins to Achieve Big Goals Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations For Goal Setting To Reach Your Goals, Start With Planning For The Worst Why Setting Intrinsic Goals Can Make You Happier

          Trending in Communication

          1 10 Signs You Are in a Codependent Relationship (And What To Do About It) 2 I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness 3 13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently 4 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People 5 What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on July 20, 2021

          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

          Advertising
          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

          You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

          Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

          Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

          Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

          1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

          According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

          “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

          Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

          Warming up

          If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

          If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

          Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

          Advertising

          1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
          2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
          3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

          Stay hydrated

          Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

          To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

          Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

          Meditate

          Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

          Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

          Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

          Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

          2. Focus on your goal

          One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

          Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

          Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

          Advertising

          Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

          If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

          3. Convert negativity to positivity

          There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

          ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

          It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

          Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

          Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

          Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

          4. Understand your content

          Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

          Advertising

          However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

          “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

          Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

          Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

          One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

          5. Practice makes perfect

          Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

          In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

          Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

          6. Be authentic

          There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

          Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

          Advertising

          Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

          To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

          With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

          Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

          7. Post speech evaluation

          Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

          Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

          We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

          You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

          Improve your next speech

          As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

          Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

          Advertising

          • How did I do?
          • Are there any areas for improvement?
          • Did I sound or look stressed?
          • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
          • Was I saying “um” too often?
          • How was the flow of the speech?

          Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

          If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

          Reference

          Read Next