Michael Phelps won 5 more Olympic Gold medals in Rio. He is the most decorated Olympic athlete ever with 23 gold medals and a total of 28 Olympic medals over 5 appearances. How did he do it? There are a few simple practices Michael used to make history and you can apply the very same tools to help you succeed in life. Phelps learned to develop Grit and Mental Toughness by engaging in 3 specific principles which gave him an edge above his competitors.
- Create Simple Routines that Lead You to Success
When you create powerful routines (habits) in your life, you will drastically increase your chances of success. Habits channel your focus on the things that matter. Over time, you will experience incredible success from the power of these small wins.
Besides his workout habits, Michael Phelps engages in specific routines every time he prepares to race. He arrives at the pool exactly 2 hours before the event for very specific stretching exercises that are always the same. After 30 minutes, Michael gets into the pool for 45 minutes of warm up drills. Then he changes from his warm-ups to his racing swimsuit.
In the starting block he performs the exact same routine. He stands behind the starting block 4 minutes before the race. When the announcer calls his name he steps on the block, and then off of the block. He then swings his arms 3 times, steps back up and assumes his starting position.
This is the same routine for every race.
- Train Your Brain Philosophy
The U.S. Olympic swimming team has a “train your brain philosophy.” This is why I teach on the power of rewiring your brain. You teach your brain what results you want to create and you’re able to deliver them time and time again. It’s about confidence, focus, and creating the results you want.
I think that everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and you put the work and time into it. I think your mind really controls everything. ~ Michael Phelps
Phelps said when his goggles filled with water in the Beijing Olympics, he wouldn’t have won gold without mental strength. He knew exactly where he was and how many strokes he had left, all he had to do was count the strokes he rehearsed. He said, “Training your brain makes nerves a non-issue.”
- Focus on You
As a competitor, Michael Phelps is clear about what he wants. He is not focused on his nerves, what he didn’t do that morning, or any of the competitors. He is obsessively centered on getting the results that are important to him.
A great example of this was the 2012 Olympic semifinal race in London. Chad le Clos stood directly in front of Phelps before the race and stared him down. It was an obvious attempt by the South African to distract and intimidate Phelps. What le Clos didn’t realize was that he was making a fatal concentration error that would ultimately cost him a medal.
If you want to beat an opponent, you never focus on them. It fuels negativity and steals energy from resources you need to win. Focus on YOU and YOUR goals.
During the race le Clos even looked over at Phelps in the middle of the race, which is a huge performance “NO-NO” for swimmers that slows them down every time. Phelps never looked at le Close and even turned away from him before the finals.
In the end, Phelps won his 20th gold medal and le Close placed 4th, out of medal contention.
You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get. ~ Michael Phelps