20 August 2008

Lessons from an Olympic Hero

I've spent the past few nights trying to catch up on some much needed sleep. For the past week, I've been staying up late to watch Olympic swimming, along with most other Americans. Yes, I got caught up in the Michael Phelps quest and I'm glad that I did. This man has completely charmed me, with his crooked grin, his pokey out ears and his sparkling eyes. As I have watched him, I have learned or noticed some pretty cool things. So, in an effort to remember those lessons, I've decided to write about them.

1. Dreams - Michael Phelps has dreamed of being an Olympic champion since he was a kid. He did everything in his power to make those dreams come true. Those around him also provided him with all of the tools and support to achieve those dreams. He surrounded himself with those who believed in him. He believed his dreams and believed in himself.

2. Focus - Michael Phelps is one of the most focused athletes that I've ever seen. His ability to mentally prepare himself for his races is incredible. His ability to know what works for him before the race and then to follow through with it is awesome. I was so impressed with his ability to know exactly what he had to do to win the race and then to carry out his plan.

3. Teamwork - While swimming seems to be an individual sport, Michael Phelps is a phenomenal team player. When I learned that he had given up his relay spot to a teammate in Athens, I was so impressed. When I watched him cheer his relay teams on, I was pleasantly surprised at the intensity he maintained. He surrounds himself with successful people and then encourages them to be even more successful.

4. Class - Michael Phelps continually surprised me with the amount of poise and class he showed in the midst of his Olympic glory. His smile was so charming and sincere and he went out of his way to downplay what he was trying to accomplish. He was modest and confident and carried himself with alot of class and maturity.

5. Heart - This man has incredible heart. His desire to achieve never overshadowed his own integrity. His relationship with his mother is so touching. His smiles and exuberance when he won were so inspiring. He recognized that he was changing history, but never let that change himself.

There were many other things that I noticed during the swims, things like mechanics and technique, but the thing that stands out to me the most was watching Michael Phelps smile on the podium. What an incredible athlete! I hope that I can carry myself with as much grace and class as he does.