Sunday, August 17, 2008

Success Through One Man's Eyes - Part VI

Everyone and their mother watched as Michael Phelps became arguably the greatest Olympic athlete in history. I guess you could call that success. Most of us stood in awe of his accomplishments - winning 8 Gold medals in swimming, and breaking Olympic records in the process. By itself, that's enough for most of us. But, there is more!

I wanted to write about principles that are relevant to todays young men and how they can measure success. In my acronym for success I intended to use the "e" to denote excellence. As worthy a goal as seeking excellence is Michael Phelps' achievements reminded me of two other "e's" that are every bit as important and relevant today. They are endurance and enthusiasm.

Did Michael Phelps demonstrate excellence in the pool? You bet! Were his skills superior to anyone in China that week? Oh - my - Gosh, yeah Howdy! But, what struck me more than his incredible, unbelievable. almost inconceivable quest to surpass Mark Spitz's seven Olympic Gold Medals was the way in which he accomplished his amazing feat.

Where do I start? Honoring his mother with each glance and recognition of her contribution to his life; sharing his moments of glory with his sisters; acknowledging with enormous humility the contribution of his teammates (all world class athletes in their own right) and demonstrating an image that could be emulated by every young man with complete and utter confidence of acceptance. Wow! How important a contribution is that?

But, there's more! What struck me the most was his enthusiasm and endurance. His enthusiasm for living in the moment; not only of the 2008 Olympic games, but in the years of competition and training that led up to his spectacular achievements in China. Michael Phelps remained focused and present in each event, not with an eye on the future but enthusiastically executing each small victory up the ladder to the Gold Medal podium. This is the message of his victory. True excellence in any endeavor can only truly be accomplished by remaining present in each very special moment of life.

There's still more! Although he remained present in each event, this presence was the culmination of many years of enduring the practices, the competitions, the exhausting rigors of Olympic and world class caliber training regimens that would destroy most of us. Is he gifted? Absolutely! But he also endured for a very long stretch of time. He got up for the game every day, focused on the moment knowing only that he would compete that day or in the next event, if he was healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. He endured by choice; by deciding to do so. That is an attitude worthy of emulation. Frankly, many athletes and professionals in other areas of life enjoy the same perspective. This is just Michael's time in the spotlight.

One last thought, if I may? This is also just one man in the limelight. There are thousands of people in various vocations and avocations that demonstrate similar attitudes. Thank God, though all too often unnoticed, they are present in their teaching or police work or management or gardening or you name it. They too, have that special or spectacular Gold Medal something which they enthusiastically demonstrate in an enduring way.

The reality is that you too, possess an ability equally worthy of emulation, duplication or respect. The question is will you be present each moment of the day? Will you submit your will humbly and subordinate yourself to a cause bigger than you are in order to accomplish your goal.
I believe Michael Phelps did; and we all gained something special from it.

1 comment:

paul said...

Bruce, brilliantly written. You've tapped into your joy. Keep it flowing.