Olympic Secrets: How to Create More Success in Life and Health
5 Olympic Lessons for Success in Life and HealthBy Susan Biali, M.D
Have you been watching the Olympics? I’m enjoying the amazing privilege of being in my hometown of Vancouver during these games. Wow! I have never seen my fellow Canadians (including myself) so wildly patriotic. If you’re not Canadian, please excuse our behavior – we’ve only just discovered how much fun it is to wave flags and wear outlandishly patriotic hats. We’re milking these two weeks for all they’re worth, while we can.
In addition to the other things that I do (flamenco dancing, speaking, writing) I’m still a licensed physician, and have been working in a clinic that’s right in the middle of the Olympic action. In addition to Vancouverites I’ve been attending tourists from around the world, and Olympic volunteers and staff who come in needing medical care, an experience which has made me really feel part of it all. As the days pass, I’ve been reflecting on this phenomenon of the Olympics and the art of elite achievement in sports and in life.
Here are 5 things that I’ve concluded that we all stand to learn from the Olympians, things that can help you achieve outstanding, sustained success in whatever it is that you want to do in life:
When we look at elite athletes, we think first of the incredible training that’s required to achieve their level of fitness. What we often don’t realize is that rest is absolutely essential to their success. Top athletes know that they need to get enough sleep to repair and regenerate and attain max performance. They also know that they can’t continually push their bodies excessively if they want to sustain ongoing success. Most of us “normal” people don’t take nearly enough time to rest, and we continually push our bodies harder than we should (long working hours, over-caffeinating to keep going, etc.). We’d enjoy much better results in health and life if we heeded the Olympian example and gave ourselves more opportunities to rest and recover.
2) Choose the right fuel
Would you put cheap leaded gas in a Ferrari? I think not. An athlete knows their body is a high performance machine, and gives it the best fuel in the form of high quality protein, optimal carbohydrates and anti-oxidant packed fruits and vegetables, in just the right amounts to build muscle and endurance and maximize performance. Imagine if you lived this way: getting up in the morning and eating a high-powered breakfast that would guarantee mental clarity and optimal energy levels, followed by top-quality meals and snacks rich in nutritional powerhouse foods that fuel your mind and body all day. Seriously, can you imagine how you’d feel and perform?
3) Do it
I once heard of a gold medalist who was asked how often he practices. “I only practice on two occasions, actually,” he said. “When I want to – and when I don’t want to”. This was revolutionary to me, and it’s a major key to success. I love flamenco dancing and am studying with a great teacher right now, but on cold rainy nights when I have to go to class, I often don’t want to go – despite the fact that I love dancing. When I get past the “don’t want to” and just get up and go, the rewards are immense. How many goals and rewards in life are you missing out on right now because you can’t get past the “I don’t want to” steps that are required to live your way into the experience you dream of (think losing weight, getting into shape, tidying up your finances, etc.). Doing what you don’t want to do, because it takes you where you want to go, moves you into the realm of champions.
4) Positive Thinking
Have you seen a figure skater skid across the ice after a terrible fall, and then get up and keep skating like it never even happened? Sports psychologists teach athletes not to let their past mistakes or errors (even errors just seconds or minutes in the past) interfere with what they have to do in the present. They view mistakes as learning opportunities, rather than opportunities to cry and indulge in self-pity. When things don’t go your way, celebrate the fact that you now know more than you did before you made the mistake, as this will multiply your chances of eventual success!
5) Focus on the big goal, and make your choices from that perspective
The athletes competing today set a goal, four years ago or even much longer ago than that, to compete in the 2010 Olympics. You can bet that the majority of daily choices they made since making that goal were based on achieving that goal. The foods they ate, how they spent their free time, even who they spent that time with, were probably evaluated in the context of whether or not that element would help or hinder them in going for the gold. Have you thought to do that? Set an audacious goal for yourself – whether it’s finally losing those twenty pounds or achieving financial freedom. For every new choice that you come to, whether it’s the food you put in your mouth, or what you choose to buy in the store, or how you spend your weekend, evaluate it in the context of your dream. You will be amazed by how the “must have” needs of the day fall away when considered in light of what’s most important in the long run.
For the last few years I have considered my choices in light of my audacious goal of having a book published. It’s finally come true – with the release of my new book, Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You (www.LiveALifeYouLoveBook.com).
And thank you to the Olympians, for being such an amazing example of what humans can do when we honor and go for our dreams.