Week two of the Olympics is coming to a close and we’ve just witnessed history, again. We’ve seen the world’s best athletes take the stage to dance a thrilling dance of athleticism, sportsmanship and skill. And once again, a 31-year-old swimmer from Maryland has caught the attention of the world.
With 23 gold medals, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. He’s won more gold medals than any other athlete in the history of the Olympic games. He’s a shining example of what it looks like to reach your fullest potential as a human being. And he’s not the only one. There is a long list of athletes from both the United States and beyond that continue to show us what greatness looks like.
You may not dream of becoming the world’s most decorated Olympian or even of becoming an Olympian at all, but chances are you have a dream too. Unlike Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and others like them, most people’s dreams – no matter the size – get pushed aside and forgotten about in pursuit of a more “attainable” life. But, why? What separates you and I from the Simone Biles and Michael Phelps of the world?
We all have the potential for greatness, but just how do we unleash it and turn our starry-eyed dreams into reality?
Your mindset is the established set of attitudes and thought processes that you live by. It’s often unrecognizable to you and can impact your life in ways that you don’t see. It’s the unconscious internal monologue inside your head that leads you through your life, influencing each choice you make. Olympic athletes, who fight the odds and reach their dreams, have a mindset geared for growth. They know that they can achieve anything with the right attitude, perseverance and ability to learn from their failures. They push themselves and work tirelessly for what they want, because they know that they have the power to control their own destiny. It’s not about your circumstances, your age, your gender, or your bank account; it’s only about you. The only thing that stands between you and your dreams is you. You have the power to change your life, by changing your mindset.
Despite what you may think, Michael Phelps wasn’t born being able to kick a 100 meter butterfly‘s ass. Simone Biles didn’t master gymnastics at birth. It took them years and years of practice, years of failure and years of defeat. They took it one step at a time, mastering each challenge they met along the way, keeping their ultimate dream in sight. Unfortunately, we live in a society full of instants. We want what we want and we want it now! We don’t want to work for it, we just want to push a button and make it happen. This kind of attitude will get you nowhere, fast. We have to remember that great things take time and we have to inch towards them, slowly. If we break our grandiose dreams up into smaller, more achievable chunks, we will be on our way to achieving our own version of greatness before we know it. This may seem obvious, but so few of us do it. We forget the importance of the feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from short-term success and how it can propel us into the future. So, think about your dreams and your goals and what you can do in the short term to get there, starting right now.
Be Bold –Take Chances
You’ve got to step out of your comfort zone, push the boundaries of your existence and explore the endless possibilities that await you. With an open mind and an optimistic disposition, you have the ability to do or be whatever or whomever you desire. The Michael Phelps of the world don’t sit around and wait for things to come to them, they go out and get them. The ability to take chances opens you up to new experiences and opportunities. You may learn something new or meet someone new that can lead you down a path that you never expected for yourself. Accept that failure is inevitable, sometimes painful and almost always temporary. There can be no success without failure and you are in control of how you handle the setbacks in life. Remember that with a positive mindset, you will have the ability to bounce back from anything. Take it from Thomas Jefferson, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done”.
Don’t Dream It, Be It
I’m not just talking about dreams that take you to the oval office, or to winning gold at the Olympics or becoming the first person to travel to Mars. I’m talking about every dream, no matter how big or how small. Whatever your heart screams out to you, whatever your definition of greatness may be, you can get there. Don’t push things aside because you don’t think you’re cut out for them and don’t watch other people accomplish things that you wish you could accomplish. Find a way to make them happen. Unleash your inner Olympian and don’t stop until you’ve won all the gold medals you can.
*This blog was also featured on Huffington Post. You can see it here.