Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to speak to five hundred high school student-athletes, their parents, teachers and coaches in Big Rapids, MI. I was there to share the lessons learned from my experience at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. Once I arrived, for a brief moment I felt like a fish out of water, confronted with a generation I suddenly felt out of touch with. It had been over 30 years since I was last in high school…ugh!
To reconnect to that time three decades ago, during the day I walked the halls while no one was there and remembered clearly the time as if it were yesterday. “What would I have wanted to know then that I know now?” I thought in preparation to speak to these young adults. While eating lunch it hit me. The Olympic ideals are not confined to just sport! Though I don’t compete athletically anymore, the lessons I learned as an elite athlete and coach I apply EVERY DAY. They are universal principles that when used will work every time…not just to win an Olympic gold medal but to ultimately win in the greatest game of all: Life. This is what I shared:
The Six Keys to Olympic Level Success
- Dream. Marcus Aurelius, who rose to become emperor of the Roman Empire, shared one of the most important secrets ever: “Dream big dreams; only big dreams have the power to move men’s souls.”
- Will To Win. For every prize there is a price. And the greater the prize, the greater the price. However, the prize is ALWAYS greater than the price. Are you willing to pay the price?
- Fanassionous. Fanatical-Passion-with-a-Purpose. When you find something you love, you will never work another day in your life.
- Work Ethic. The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary…PERIOD. Your ability to achieve success will be in direct proportion to the WORK you put into a worthwhile dream or goal.
- Speak/Visualization. Speak what you want as if it is and it will be. What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. As my dear mentor Van Carrigan says, “you can’t get where you’re not already.”
- Faith. This is the most elusive characteristic of them all. Faith is, “the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. Without faith, there is no dream (see #1).
Afterwards, several people shared with me the powerful impact the words had for them. I was both humbled and awed. The few that can call themselves Olympians have physical and mental gifts that most of the world will never know. However, the Olympic keys of success apply to every human being. You don’t have to be an athlete to use them!