How to Think Like an Olympian

Sometimes, you need to give yourself a good kick in the ass (or arse – ahem, excuse my language) for being such a downer. We all get those days, those days when we just can’t seem to get out of bed. The world seems like a cruel, dark place and hope has completely abandoned us. Pick yourself up and get back to work. Even if nobody believes in your dreams. Even if you are completely alone in this battle. The only thing that matters is that you’ve got you and you are not about to quit on yourself.

Athletes are great sources of inspiration to all of us – you won’t find more determined, goal-orientated and higher achievers than those guys. They don’t believe in good luck, they believe in merit. Remember, success is a byproduct of accumulated years of hard work and dedication. But your aim should not be to focus solely on an end goal. You should learn to enjoy the process, enjoy the work and the rest will follow. Athletes love what they do foremost, if they didn’t they wouldn’t train in the first place.

Here are the following principles most athletes abide by:

Impossible is nothing.

You set your own limits. If you believe that you can achieve something then by all means you’re going to do just that. Our minds have the ability to control what we think, how we feel, how we go about our day to day lives and ultimately how likely we are to succeed. If you reinforce positivity, you’re going to seek opportunities as opposed to being cowered by fear and ultimately you are going to triumph. Athletes believe in themselves. Full stop.

Do the walk, don’t talk the talk.

Dreams demand constant effort on your part. You can’t expect to get anywhere unless you are constantly putting yourself out there and undergoing tremendous risks. There is no easy road. Athletes are constantly working on building their dreams and polishing their craft. They practice day after day, week after week, giving it 100 percent every time. There is no room for laziness or carelessness. Your work has to be focused and consistently good. It’s practice after practice in order to be the best and beat the rest.

Be in the present. 

Don’t dwell on the past (it’s gone, let it go) or look too far ahead into the future. Yes, you should have goals and know where you are headed. But the key is to set smaller goals that you can focus on right now. This is the only moment you can control: The Now. Take hold of the present and do everything you can to get you closer to your dream.

The competition is you. 

It doesn’t matter what X has achieved or what Y might achieve tomorrow. Put aside any doubts or jealous thoughts that may arise. This is your moment to shine. The competition is between you and your former self, nobody else. Sure, athletes know that they’ll have to compete against other incredibly gifted competitors but they also know that the only true assailant is between the you of today and the you from yesterday. Be better than you were. You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone but yourself.

It’s the journey, not the destination, that counts. 

You should do the work because the work is the reward in itself. You’re lucky to be able to dream and to have a dream in the first place. If you don’t have this figured out, now is the time to discover what it is you want to do. From there onward, you can map out your goals for the month ahead. Be sure to savour it, it’s part of the adventure. Once you hit that mark, you can’t go any further. Is your life really worth living just to finally get to that destination? Imagine climbing a mountain. Are you simply doing it so you can get to the top or do you want to enjoy the march? Once you reach the peak and you look down, sure you would feel elated but then it would be over, there would be nothing left to do. Wouldn’t you wish you could go back and start again, so that you could appreciate the climb a little more the second time around? It’s the same principle – enjoy the walk because when you get to the top, that’ll be the end of your journey.

The sky is the limit. 

Push yourself beyond what you believe are your boundaries. Why be mediocre when you could be great? Why settle for normal when you could have incredible? Don’t limit yourself and don’t overlook your own abilities; you’ve got it in you to be extraordinary. Ask yourself if this is all you’ve got. If the answer is no, you know you’ve got more work to do. When you think you’re done, push yourself some more.

Failure is not the end, it’s just the beginning. 

Never give up, never surrender. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. The adage – mistakes are proof that you are trying – is true. If you want to live a life devoid of errors, that’s fine. Just don’t expect to get anywhere while you’re at it. However, if you want to lead a rich and fulfilling life, one where you get to live out your dream on a daily basis, then you will have to accept that failure is inevitably going to be a part of that equation. It’s simple math really. Failure x risk leads to success. So look failure in the eyeball and say, “Bring it on!”

Special thanks to my brother for his wise words, Nike motivational videos, athletes who have inspired me (and their stories) and articles I have read, including the following sources:

Thanks for reading. Now, get to work.



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