As the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea draw near, let’s look to Olympians past and present for a little career advice and inspiration.
Olympians like Chen knew he wanted to skate and he aimed high – so high in fact that he made it to the Olympics four years earlier than he dreamed. He will compete in his first Olympics in 2018.
Olympians don’t give up, even following career-threatening injuries. Just ask 2018 Olympic alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, the most decorated World Cup ski racer in United States history. Despite multiple injuries – ruptured knee ligaments, a fractured right humerus, a concussion and an acute facet spinal-joint dysfunction – Vonn keeps going.
She has always worked hard to recover and be the best, as her fitness trainer, Alex Bunt, can attest. “She never lets a session go. Every single set and every rep matters. There’s no fluff,” Bunt says.
To overcome challenges, Olympians train hard, stay focused and believe in themselves. With 23 gold, three silver and two bronze medals, swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. Clearly, this guy knows how to win, no matter what obstacles he faces.
As Phelps told Men’s Fitness, "In Beijing, when my goggles filled with water, I didn't panic. I went back to all of my training. I knew how many strokes it takes me to get up and down the pool, so I started counting my strokes. I didn't reach the time I was aiming for, but I did win the race.”
Olympians know they need to give it everything they’ve got to be the best. When asked what it takes to compete at an elite level, U.S. Pistol Shooting Team Coach Sergey Luzov said, “You have to be willing to go the extra mile ... That’s the major thing that champions possess. You have to be willing to do more than anyone else. That's why they’re better.
Olympians regularly have to face their fears and/or overcome adversity to compete. Consider African American track and field star Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Revered as one of the greatest Olympic athletes ever, Owens truly triumphed over adversity in Berlin, because German dictator Adolph Hitler intended the 1936 games to prove that Aryans were the “master race.” Owens became a role model not just for his talent and patriotism but also for his bravery in the face of such extreme prejudice.
She knew training to compete at an elite level and pursuing her dreams would mean missing out on a lot of the normal things teenagers do, like going to high school, proms and football games. “I would be like, 'Oh, my gosh, I wish I could go to prom.' But then I think, 'You know what? A lot of people can't say they've ever done what I do – they'll never have this opportunity,’” Biles said.
In order to fulfill their dreams, Olympians have to believe in themselves first. Preparation is key to gaining that confidence, as was the case with the 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team. The team’s “Miracle on Ice” – beating the Soviet Union in the Olympic semi-finals at Lake Placid – is a victory that still inspires athletes today
Nobody expected the seventh-seed Americans to go far – they eventually won the gold – but their coach Herb Brooks set the team up for success. He made sure the players were prepared so they could compete – and have the confidence to win – on the international stage.
Behind every successful Olympic athlete is a great coach. Olympians understand that knowledge is power, so they turn to experts for advice. Michael Phelps first met his coach Bob Bowman at age 10, and says the two admittedly stubborn men “work so well together, because we’re passionate about what we do.”
Simone Biles’ coach instructs Biles “to compete for herself, to focus on the personal joy competition brings and not the weighty expectations of an entire country.” This advice served Biles well when she won gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Then start thinking like an Olympian and dream big! You can’t change your life until you decide to change how you approach it. Seek out opportunities that light a fire in your belly and take the steps necessary to be the best at what you love.
Mary Maloney is a freelance writer and solopreneur who has written content for a variety of industries – from wellness to finance to law. After 25 years in the corporate world, Mary decided to follow her heart and launch a marketing business. Mary began working with Terri Maxwell in 2014 and has been blessed to be a recipient of Terri’s wisdom about life, career and business success. When she isn’t writing, Mary enjoys cooking with her husband and snuggling with her Pembroke Welsh Corgi Seamus.