What an Olympic Champion Taught Me

By Darryl Mobley

Several years ago, I was training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During my early morning work-out I noticed this guy squat-walking around the track with a tire full of sand or something around his neck. It was obviously very heavy.

Can You Squat-Walk?

I did not know who the guy was or what he did as an athlete. Finally, one day at lunch I happened to be sitting across the table from him. I introduced myself. His name was Eric. I said, “I see you doing the squat-walking every morning. That’s incredible. What sport do you do?” And he said, “I’m a skater, you know, a speed skater.” Eric seemed to be a very unassuming person.

The Conversation That Changed My Life

We were both young guys in our early 20s. We met a few more times at lunch and one day I asked him, “How’re the Winter Olympics going to be looking for you?”  And he said, “I’m doing well. My training is going well.” I asked, “How are you going to do?” And he said, without a trace of ego or arrogance, “I think I’m going to win five gold medals.” And I’m thinking, “5 gold medals! He’s a crazy man!”

So I Asked —

So I followed up by asking why he thought he would win five gold medals. His answer changed my life. It was:

“Because I train harder than anyone else in the world.”

I look at his answer as giving himself a rational reason for the irrational belief that he could win five gold medals. Therefore, as long as he continued training harder, he’d be giving himself permission to believe he could win.

I also asked him about his competition in the various events. He told me something else that rocked me. He said:

“The competition is with myself.”

Eric only competed with himself. With his goals. With his physical capacity. The “competition” did not exist in his world.

For those of us who are old enough to know, Eric Heiden went out and he did win five Olympic Gold Medals in the 1980 Winter Olympics and while doing this he set Olympic and world records.

Big learning here…

Your WHY Is More Important Than Your What.

Eric linked himself to the outrageous goal of five gold medals. How?

Gold Medals = Working Harder Than Anyone Else = Eric Heiden’s Belief

When you believe that it’s possible, and give yourself a rational reason to believe it’s possible, and you work like your hair is on fire — then… IT IS POSSIBLE!

What Are You Linked To?

© 2008 Darryl L. Mobley

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