Be What You Want to Become

Have you been watching the Olympics?  I have.  I’ve been blown away by several of the events and performances.  Let’s start with Usain “Lightning” Bolt who won a gold medal and set a world record in the 100 meter dash, while jogging the last 15 meters.

How about Dara Torres, 41 years old, and winner of the silver medal in the 50 meter freestyle swim?  She is older than the combined ages of the women who won the gold and bronze, Britta Stefan and Cate Campbell.  She lost the gold by one — one hundredths of a second to Stefan. 

Then there’s Michael Phelps.  Eight races, eight gold medals.  Amazing. 

I always post on self confidence on Mondays.  As I discuss in Straight Talk for Success, self confidence is key to career and life success.  If you want to become self confident, you need to do three things: 1) be optimistic; 2) face your fears and take action; and 3) surround yourself with positive people.

On Friday, I had a conversation with my friend, Peter Julian.  We were talking about self confidence and success.  Peter made an interesting point.  He said that if you want to succeed, you must “be what you want to become.” 

Friday night, after he won the 100 meter butterfly, and tied Mark Spitz’ record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics, Michael Phelps said that he “imagined winning eight gold medals,” and then set up and followed a training regimen to do what he had to do to win eight gold medals.  Right before the Olympics, he zoned in on what he imagined by writing down what he hoped to achieve.  On Sunday, when Bob Costas asked him if he achieved what he had written; his answer was “pretty much, yes.”

What do you think of this?  Have you ever done something similar?  Please leave a comment sharing your story with us.

I believe that all success begins with optimism.  If you want to succeed, you need to be optimistic.  You need to believe that you can accomplish your goals.  You need to visualize or “imagine” yourself  being successful.  The fifth point of The Optimist Creed says, “Promise yourself to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.”  That’s Michael Phelps did in his pre Olympic preparation.

If you think about it, by his “imagining” statement, Michael Phelps was echoing Peter Julian.  Phelps imagined winning eight gold medals.  Then he became the person who could win eight gold medals.  His lifestyle and training regimen became one of someone who was an eight gold medal winner.

The common sense point here is a little zen like.  If you want to succeed, create a mental image of the person who has the qualities of success you would like to achieve.  Then do the things necessary to become that person.  Michael Phelps created an image of what an eight Olympic gold medalist would look like, and then he did what he needed to do to become that person.  As Peter Julian said to me, you need to “be what you want to become.”  Figure out what you want to become – how you define success.  Determine, in minute detail, how that person would conduct himself or herself.  Then be that person.  Act like he or she would act.  If you do this, just like Michael Phelps, you’ll be on your way to being what you want to become — and a great success.

That’s my take on Michael Phelps, optimism and being what you want to become.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment, letting me know what you think of these somewhat esoteric ideas.  Also, please feel free to leave a shout out to your favorite Olympian.

I have The Optimist Creed displayed prominently in my office.  I am so inspired by The Optimist Creed that I’ve created a copy that is suitable for framing.  If you want one, please send an e mail to with the words “Optimist Creed” in the subject line.

Thanks for reading.

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  1. Nice article, I am researching articles on olympians success. Can I copy your article and give you a link

  2. Thanks for your comment Girish.
    Please feel free to copy the article with a link.
    All the best,

  3. Bud, in sports I believe the key to being a winner is BELIEVING you are going to win. Not hoping, not “having a chance” but actually knowing that without a doubt you will win. Obviously it will not always happen but you have to believe it in order for it to happen. When you believe it completely, you will do everything possible in order to make your vision a success.
    It really isn’t that different in life. If you really truly believe that you will be successful, you will do everything necessary in order to make that happen. Obstacles will come into your way, but you will work around them….people will say “you can’t do that”, but you will prove them wrong. You will do what you need to do to make your vision a success.
    Winners win and losers make excuses. Michael Phelps is an inspiration to all of us that have a dream that is not yet accomplished. We can accomplish anything we truly set our mind to as long as we are willing to make the necessary sacrifices.
    Great post Bud.

  4. Steve:
    Thanks for your great comment. I really appreciate that you took the time to write such a thoughtful and thought provoking comment.
    I can’t add anything to what you’ve said other than “I agree completely.”
    Thanks again for your comment.
    All the best,

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