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Lessons from the Beijing Olympics...

Brian Calkins - NSCA-CPT, ACE | Cincinnati, Ohio

With each Olympics hundreds of amazingly inspirational stories come to the forefront to astound and warm the hearts of even the non-athletes amongst us.

Certainly Michael Phelps' achievements provided a phenomenal and a heartwarming story of work ethic, desire, motivation and humility. Eight gold medals and all those records. Amazing! Hey, just the quantity of what he eats for breakfast is amazing!

But we also got to see Dara Torres win her twelfth Olympic medal!

Beijing was her 5th Olympics and she was 41 years old!!!

She is also the oldest American swimmer to qualify for the Olympics and the first to make five teams.

I think the, "I am too old," excuse just got booted out the window.

I'm always fascinated with these extraordinary athletes - and now with a child, I'm curious what Dara does to stay focused and motivated over the span of five Olympics?

The most common challenge people talk about when they request coaching is "staying motivated."

"I need a coach to hold me accountable," they admit.

Dara Torres has a coach, of course. All great athletes and successful people achieve their greatest heights through having a coach, mentor or significant role model.

"I mean, I know what to do, I just don't do it," they continue.

There's a wonderful story about a young man who wanted an interview with a famous guru. When they met, the man asked, "How can I find wisdom?" Without a word, the guru led the young man to a nearby lake and pushed his head under water. After the man thrashed and fought for a moment, the guru let him up, where he immediately gasped for air. The guru then said, "When you desire wisdom as badly as you wanted that breath of air, you'll find it."

Isn't that the truth? When we are motivated, NOTHING can stand in our way!

1. Be clear! You can hit almost any target if you define it and put a time line on it. WHAT do you want and WHEN is it going to be done?

2. Have an action plan. WHAT are you going to do? WHAT are the action steps? "Baby-steps" seem to feel easier and are often more fun than "giant leaps." It's relatively hard to stay motivated over 6 months to lose 25 - 50 pounds, but it's easy to shoot for losing 5 pounds this month. Have a clear, do-able and action-able plan. Then, take one step after another.

3. Surround yourself with positives. Zig Ziglar made a wonderful observation that "people complain motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does a shower. That's why I recommend both every day."

You've got to read, listen to audio programs, talk with positive people and surround yourself with things that energize you! We live in a "bad news world." It wears everyone down!

Put down the paper, turn off the TV and surround yourself with mental input that energizes you!

4. The "Breakfast of Champions." With no intended disrespect to Wheaties, we need to re- commit to our most important priorities, goals and plans every single day. Personally, on those days that I begin my morning with about 20 minutes of focus on my major priorities I'm 10 times more focused and motivated. On those days I get sidetracked early on and forget to review my goals, the day just seems to "get away from me."

In the rush of our busy day, minor "crises" will beat strategic and focused action every time and little productivity is achieved.

Start every day by reviewing and re-affirming your most important goals and objectives.

5. Have lots of cheerleaders! I think this may be the most important, easiest, and most-often over- looked. Recruit friends, family and support networks to hold you accountable. Teach them to support and encourage you. Pick their brains for good ideas, and report back to them regularly. With a good team of cheerleaders, you can accomplish anything!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins