As Michael Phelps at London 2012 goes to the top of the list of number of Olympic medals, it’s a great time to look at some goal achievement lessons from the first man to try for massive medal hauls…
Another American, he won 7 golds at the Munich Olympics in 1972, but to start the tips from his story, let’s go back 4 years to Mexico in 1968.
Spitz was world record holder in the 100 and 200 butterfly, and was looking for a nice set of golds. He came second in the 100 though, and then in the 200 trailed in last. To use his own words, he was ‘broken’, he had simply buckled mentally.
It impacted him so badly that he was on the verge of retirement, but instead he decided to seek extra help in his goal efforts. He went to Indiana University, which had the reputation as being *the* place to go for world class swimming coaching.
That’s lesson number 1 – getting past negative emotions after failure, and deciding to come back for more.
Sports science is everywhere nowadays, but back then it was still in its’ infancy. The head coach at Indiana was James Councilman. He wanted to know what the best swimmers were doing under the water, so he put lights on their hands, turned the lights off and filmed them underwater!
What a great example of an innovative approach to get answers as to how to progress things. It also shows that for the vast majority of goals, other people have already done the work, because that work by Councilman showed an ‘S’ shaped made by the arms under water, which he hadn’t expected to see.
That’s lesson number 2.
On to the Munich Games, and Spitz was aiming at 7 gold medals. At a press conference, Spitz as asked why he had a moustache, that surely he was going to shave it off.
Spitz answered that he was keeping it because it deflected the water from his face which helped get his head further into the water. That wasn’t true, Spitz had been playing, but he decided there and then to keep it, and from then on all the Russian swimmers had a moustache!
Yet another example of reverse engineering someone else’s success, but also making sure you check your information and don’t accept things blindly!
Lessons 3 and 4 there!
One more lesson to go from those Spitz Olympics in 1972…
Six golds in, and six world records, Spitz suddenly had doubts about the 100 freestyle
– suddenly his belief had totally gone, and he wanted to pull out. His coach told him he would be remembered as a bottler if he didn’t compete in the blue riband event, so he was persuaded to take part, and won that 7th gold in his 7th world record.
The lesson from that, is when you feel fear, and wonder why successful people don’t feel fear, the answer is that they *do* feel fear, but to use the well known phrase, they do it anyway!
That’s the 5th lesson, and if you add that to the other you have a great little collection…
– Decide to move forwards after a setback.
– You may need to innovate, or someone else may have already done it for you!
– Reverse engineering someone else’s success can show you your next step.
– You must check your information and not blindly accept what you’re told.
– Feel the fear and, yes, do it anyway.
Your goal may not be to win an Olympic swimming gold, but think of Mark Spitz’s moustache and think how you can apply his lessons to whatever your own goal is.
Ok, that’s it for now – let me know what you think and feel free to share, like, tweet etc!