“Surround yourself with the dreamers, the doers, the believers, and thinkers. Most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it within yourself.” – Simone Biles
The women’s Olympic gymnastic squad was a Dream Team – unstoppable, dominating, while instilling fear in their opponents.
With makeup and USA leotards on, they made us believe it came easy – no pain, struggle, doubt, fear, or questioning their abilities.
The truth is quite the opposite — hours and hours spent frustrated, mentally and physically exhausted, wondering if it would all be worth it.
What we didn’t see was the sleepless nights, awakened by cramping muscles, healing injuries, and fearful thoughts. What they never showed us was the reality of their climb.
It came easy, right?
South African, Wayde van Niekerk made his 400m world record look easy, shattering Michael Johnson’s 17 year record.
Don’t believe your eyes
If you only look at the race with your eyes, you may think he cruised to this victory, on and off the track. What you didn’t see, however, was the legacy he was creating for future South African athletes. For years, South Africa wasn’t allowed to compete in the Olympics, leaving many deserving athletes behind.
Niekerk and his 74 year old coach worked tirelessly, leading up to Rio. Most who tuned into NBC’s broadcast saw him for the first time, yet for Niekerk, this had played out in his mind hundreds of thousands of times, prior.
“Impossible” doesn’t exist
Not only did his gold medal dream become a reality, breaking the world record, but he did it from lane 8. No one in history had ever won gold from that lane.
You see the celebration, he feels the reward from the pain. You see a world record, he rejoices from his struggle. You see his coach’s hands over her mouth in celebration, she draws strength from how many South African athletes will be affected, moving forward.
As he crossed the finish line, so came with him the countless sacrifices that made it possible.
What’s left to say?
By now, every word has been used to describe Michael Phelps’ greatness, however, what doesn’t get talked about enough is the comeback from his emotional darkness.
After 2012, he fell into a depression, struggling to find his identity. He hid, had suicidal thoughts, and got arrested for a second DUI, before entering a rehab center for six weeks.
The true reward
What he did in the Rio pool was amazing, but in my opinion, what he endured to get back in that pool is the real story.
He had enough money for a lifetime, global influence, and endless possibilities to impact millions. Yet, somehow, found himself clawing out of a deep, dark black hole of fear and doubt.
Instead of focusing on his 23 gold medals, I’d recommend staring at his grit – his relentless commitment to catapulting back up from the bottom. Concentrate on the mental toughness and intentional focus that was needed.
We’re the same
Phelps is no different than you or me – he falls, cries, doubts, and is temporarily left without answers. The differentiator, however, is his ability to CHOOSE a different outcome – sacrifice whatever it takes to create a new reality.
What would your life look like if you made the same commitment as the above Olympians? How would your finances change? What would happen to your business? Would your athletic career reach new heights?
You may not reach Olympic greatness, but how many “at home golds” could you win if you aligned your Sacrifices with your Wants?