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« success and the polymathic perspective | Main | big yang therapy »
Sunday
Jul042010

michael phelps is transparent

I have just been reading one the best sports biographies I have read for ages. Michael Phelps- No Limits- a thoroughly inspiring tale of the man with size 15 feet who munches on 12000 calories a day. Except he doesn't. Most of the freak stuff was just slightly exaggerated. In fact his feet are size 14 and the aussie gold medalist swimmer Ian Thorpe had size 17 feet...I digress. The book is an excellent view of how, by remaining transparent-ish, one can achieve immense goals. By this I mean, all the tantrums and ego of most sports heroes are laid aside in pursuit of goals and doing what others can't and won't do. That lack of self pity, that willingness to take responsibility for what he does, that rare willingness to let actions always speak rather than words- all that is an element of transparency, of reducing baggage, to a minimum. Everyone has baggage- Phelps parents divorced when he was seven and he had slight behavioural problems at school- the ritalin they put him - the drugs - he weans himself off through a decision of his own- no one elses. He has superb mentors in the figures of his mother and his coach- but it's Phelps in the pool, not them. As his coach puts it- "I can get you in ballpark- that's all." What I love about the way he goes about things is the utterly stripped down simplicity of it: you want X, Ok- to achieve it you will need to do Y by this time and Z by that time. In the world of Olympic swimming 1/100 of a second divides the winners from the losers. It's almost absurd. What isn't, is the way setting seemingly absurd goals, if you attack them with a no-baggage, utterly realistic and disciplined approach can allow you to achieve them. No one will be the worse off for reading this book.

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