By now, everyone should be in the Olympic spirit, watching the athletes in Sochi demonstrate their super-human skills. But as you watch, you can’t help but wonder what it takes to be the best in the world at something. The dedication, the focus, the unrelenting hours of practice. It all adds up.
But the one thing that really hit me was when I am watching someone speed through the ice track or rocket down a ski hill for ten seconds, they actually started that journey FOUR or even EIGHT years before!
Think about that for a minute. To try and be a few seconds faster, someone is willing to go on a four year journey, to make sacrifice, and put everything else on hold. For one single goal. One small fraction of a second. Unbelievable.
That made me reflect on MY own past four years (since the Vancouver Olympics) and think about all the things I have accomplished, but more importantly, all the little steps I didn’t take. And not from a judgmental place, just as an observation. And that thought is the catalyst for asking myself, “What could I create in the NEXT four years?”
So ask yourself, what will the next four years hold in store for you? Do you want to make changes in your life? Have you envisioned the kind of life you would like to have, the type of person you want to be, and the relationships you develop?
Rather than looking for some big, drastic change, let’s take an Olympic approach and think long term instead. Apply these three rules to help you think about your long term success.
1) Focus on fundamentals
It’s easy to get caught in the hype of the “next big thing” or a trick, or technique that we think may give us an advantage. Check out this Men’s Health article for 10 Olympic training tips. I am going to take those awesome training tips and turn them into mindset tips that you can apply to your everyday life as well!
- Diet and Hydration: There is a ton of information out there on types of foods to eat, but keep it simple. Try not to eat processed foods, eat a ton of veggies, and drink a lot of water! Try and maintain balance in your life over the long term by not going on yoyo diets or bingeing.
- Sleep: How many hours of sleep are you getting each night? What are you averaging? Well, sleep plays a huge factor in your success. Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School says, “If they average four hours of sleep a night for four or five days, they develop the same level of cognitive impairment as if they’d been awake for 24 hours—equivalent to legal drunkenness.” Read more in this HBR Article of the effects of sleep deprivation . It’s easy to feel guilty about sleeping, when you feel you have so much to do. But when you totally know that sleep should be a priority, you will change your thinking. Start setting sleep goals just as you would other goals and create a better relationship with sleep. I also found this great article on napping from The Buddhist Vision. Also, check out Arianna Huffington’s TED Talk on Sleep. I saw her at a seminar live and loved her approach.
- UPDATE: I love when people email me to add their stuff to my posts, and this one from Health Ambition was AWESOME: Why is Sleep So Important to Your Physical and Mental Health? Super comprehensive,videos, and just solid content. Nice work. Thanks for reaching out, Helen!
- Warm up and Recovery: In our everyday life, we need to take control of the pace, rather than rushing around all day. How can you give yourself time between activities to contemplate what has just happened and mentally set yourself up for what is to come? Reflect on your last conversation. Set your intentions for your next meeting. With all that is happening around us, it is easy for days to turn into weeks, and months, etc. So take the time for warm up and recovery in ALL your daily activities. Make your life your own.
- Mental Preparation: Mindset is everything. What are you doing to cultivate yours? What was the last book you read? Have you gone to any workshops or done some personal development recently? What have you done to get mentally prepared for the changing world? Now, how have you actually applied those principles to your life? Todd Herman, who is a mindset and performance coach for high level athletes, gave me some great advice recently as it pertained to reading. He said that when you read, make sure you are doing it with “closed loops” and actually use the knowledge you read. How many books have you half-read, or maybe read them and didn’t apply the knowledge? Well, next time you read something, test it out, evaluate it, and work on improving yourself. Get your mental preparation game dialed in. Todd also has a number of his clients currently competing in Sochi, so best of luck to them!
- Hire a Coach: As Olympic athletes develop and grow in their sport, they work with new coaches that challenge them and take them to new heights. They learn new skills and look at their performance from different angles when they hit plateaus. Coaches help them see past plateaus, build confidence, and challenge true potential. In life, careers, and business, the same holds true. When you are hitting a plateau, ask yourself if you have the abilities, resources, or support to get to the next level on your own. Or would a coach be able to help you blast through barriers quickly and make a jump to the next level? Do you have limiting beliefs that affect your mindset and performance? Consulting with someone who has expertise and working with them through your challenges can dramatically improve your results. When I work with my clients, I usually ask them, “What effect does NOT changing have on your long term success?” What barriers are you trying to break through?
- Use an Assortment of Dynamic exercises: “If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got.” Change it up. Try new things. Test them. Challenge yourself. Ask questions.
- Lift Heavy: Yah, get out of your comfort zone. The only way to do more is to challenge yourself a bit more each day. Take the biggest obstacle currently in your way, and tackle it today. Have you been putting off a new project, because you are scared? Well, make the leap. Go for it! In business, rather than thinking about getting a 20% increase or even doubling your revenue, ask yourself what it would take to create TEN TIMES your current revenue. What would have to change? Attitudes, skills, people. Lift heavy my friends.
- Pull up Power: This refers to an exercise, but I want to say “Pull up Power” is your ability to deal with adversity like a champ. Life is tough and challenges come at you fast, but how quickly can you pull yourself back up? Will you wallow in defeat for a week, a month, a year? Or will you accept that life throws crap at us all the time? How can you be happy and grateful, even when it seems like life is at its lowest? The faster you learn to pull yourself up, the faster you can get to the things that matter. And make a difference for other people as well. Read my post on How Leaders Deal With Challenges
- Train Early in the Day: I talk about this a lot. One of the best habits I have developed is getting up early and claiming my calendar for myself. How many times do you hit snooze, snooze, snooze, and then rush to get ready to head out the door? Then we complain that life is busy and there are never enough hours in the day. Blah, blah, blah. Get up early. And do what you need to do. Work out, read, write or whatever you want.
- Train with a Partner or in a Group: Find an accountability partner and discuss goals. Create or join a mastermind group. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, motivate you, and challenge you? Remember that you are the average of the five people you hang around the most with. So who is in your life now that can help you push through the plateaus as they arrive? And who do you want to attract in your life that fits your long term vision? Sometimes you also have to separate from people in your life who are no longer on the same path as you. And that is okay. Surround yourself with successful people and you will be successful too.
2) Repetition is The Key
You don’t shave one-hundredth of a second off your best time by winging it. We’ve all heard that practice makes perfect. Well that’s not totally true. The real mantra is:
Perfect practice makes perfect.
Think about those crazy people who ski moguls. It looks like their legs are going to snap on every mogul. But they have worked on repeating over and over until it looks like second nature. And if you watch them warm up, you can see they are mentally and physically repeating their run before it happens. Because they have practiced so many times. They created an Olympic mindset.
And what about a REPEAT gold medal? What kind of repetition and practice does it take to stay this focused for eight years? After his win last week, Alex Bilodeau said that the gold medal run he made four years ago wouldn’t have been enough this time. The competition is always growing. Are you?
How can you treat your life like a mogul run? What are your daily habits that are non-negotiable? Focusing on one good habit each day for four years is WAY better than doing ten new things for a month and stopping. So learn the value of consistency and the power of repetition.
Work on testing everything you do and don’t get stuck repeating mistakes. Work on building a solid routine that fits into your overall goal and follow through with your plan. Stick to a schedule and make sure you don’t skip steps. It may seem tedious at first, but once you build a series of repeatable, best-practices into your life, growth comes very quickly.
[Tweet “Perfect practice makes perfect.”]
3) Work on Small Increments over Time
This is the grand-daddy of all tips. I write a bit about this in my New Year’s Resolution post. Create a long term goal, and learn to work it back all the way to the things you need to do each day to succeed. Once you have created an action plan that you can schedule and execute, then forget about your goal! It’s too easy to start trying to see if we are on track or off track and then we derail ourselves. So once you have set your plan, stick to it long enough to see it through. 90 days minimum.
The problem today is that we are always looking for a quick fix. Well, in life there is no quick fix. It is consistent work on good habits daily over time that lead to real success.
Hope that helps you build an Olympic mindset for the next four years!
Let me know how I can help you with YOUR goals. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org