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The 10 Golden Rules for Success According to Michael Phelps Swimming Coach

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Bob Bowman
Image Credit: Live Happy

Michael Phelps is a legendary swimmer who won 82 medals in his career, including 23 medals over the course of 3 Olympics. His coach, Bob Bowman, released a book in 2016 with many of the secrets to performance and excellence fueling the success of his many gold-medal winning athletes, including Phelps. He shares with us the method in his book, “The Golden Rules: 10 Steps to World Class Excellence in Your Life and Work”, a series of rules you can apply in your own life to achieve personal fulfillment and excellence.

Here are the 10 golden rules for success from Bob Bowman:

1. Have a vision

You need a vision of where you want to go, what you want to do and who you want to be someday down the road. Think creatively about what it is you want out of life and where it is you want to go.”

Dream, fantasize and allow yourself to suspend your beliefs to envision the life you want. Put yours visions in writing. Dream creatively of the future you want and be open to lots of possibilities. Remember the vision should excite you and make you jump out of bed every morning to achieve it.

2. Be All-In

The right attitude matters which even Bob agrees. He says, “The right attitude, the All-In Attitude, can turn long shots into legends.” Use positive energy to go after your dreams. Double down on what it is you want, allowing no room for doubts or negativity. Bring enthusiasm to whatever you are pursuing. Be enthusiastic, take enthusiastic action and be enthusiastic about your vision. Be committed to forging ahead when you feel like getting out.

“We were not chasing medals…we were chasing excellence.” – Bob Bowman

3. Be a risk taker

According to Bob, “Risks provide the fuel needed to get on the road to… wherever you want to go.” Get out of your comfort zone and push yourself. When you don’t take risks and challenge yourself, you stagnate and get complacent. Turn risk-taking into a habit so you propel yourself forward to achieve your dreams.

The more risks you take, the bigger your achievements will be. When you have an all-in attitude, it will become easier to take risks in pursuit of your vision. Practice taking risks and build up your risk taking ability.  

4. Have a game plan

Build yourself a foundation to achieve your vision. You do this by creating a game plan, or strategy on how to get there, for yourself. The extent of your game plan has to be how big your vision is. Make your game plan specific, well-thought out and ambitious. It’s a roadmap to help you get from where you are today to where you’d like to be. Work backwards from the grand plan that you have plotting out key dates, smaller goals and stepping stones to help you achieve your vision.

5. Live the vision daily

You have to incorporate the above qualities every day of your life and keep your mission at the top of your daily agenda. “Success becomes routine when you have a routine,” Bowman writes.  Create daily habits that push you towards your life vision and mission.

Map out the day and try to stick to a daily schedule that pushes you forward. Go about the task at hand professionally, and set high standards for yourself. The more consistent to your daily goal work, the more likely you’ll succeed. Keep doing something daily but also ratchet up the pressure and challenge yourself to do a little more daily.

6. Have a team

Have a collection of personal coaches on your side. Bob says, “Look at the big picture and ask yourself, ‘Where can I be better and who can help me get better?’” Search for people who can help you, ask around, get referrals to help you build up a team of confidantes and supporters. Look for “like-minded” people who will be in the trenches with you when you face challenges and obstacles. Avoid people who will bring you down.

7. Stay motivated over time

For you to stick to things in the long run, you’ll need passion. You’ll need motivation to keep going day after day since you might lose sometimes. To stay passionate and motivated, you might have to “fake” your interest until the sparks reignites the fire in you.

Change up your routine to make things significant each day. Add exercises, outings, educational events, fun or celebrations to help yourself or your team feel more motivated. Use morale-boosting strategies to boost morale and encourage people to keep going.

“You see, achieving intermediary, progressive goals on a regular basis produces everyday excellence – and keeps your game plan aligned with your vision.” – Bob Bowman

8. Use adversity as an advantage

Do not let one failure get in the way of your dream. Instead, use that failure to help propel you forward. Nurture resilience. When roadblocks come up, find alternative solutions, find ways to get through or simply to cope in that moment.

Practice being in uncomfortable situations. Use tests, pressure, and rehearsals to practice putting yourself in uncertain and uncomfortable scenarios. Let go of disappointments and failures to move on to the next thing. As said from the coach himself, “Take something from failure and use it to move your vision along.”

9. Perform with confidence

As you pursue each progressive goal, you will have more experience and continue building your confidence. Use each experience you have as a learning experience so you get better and more proficient at what you do. Stay focused on the task at hand and only take on what’s in front of you, not what’s in the future.

Focusing on the task, not multitasking, is the key to success. As Bob says, “When you face a pressure situation, stay true to yourself and the plan. Remain in the present and do what you have worked weeks and months to perfect. If you follow this prescription, the desired results should come.”

10. Celebrate success

Use celebrations as a marker of your growth and how far you are progressing. It’s important to acknowledge your achievements on your path to achieving your vision. Even if you haven’t achieved the results you want, celebrate the results since the Method strategies which Bowman professes is about the process of growth, not the end achievement.

Along the way, you might have gaffes, blunders and setbacks as well. When they happen, you could feel disappointment and a sense that your dreams have disappeared. Coach Bowman’s advice to you is this, “Keep moving forward, like a swimmer with practiced strokes, and let the wisdom you’ve gained over time guide you. Your destination may be closer than you think.”

Which one of these principles will you implement and how? Let us know in the comments below!

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Amnouy

    Apr 5, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    Great advice. I’ll implement it All for my life. Great Great Great article. Thank you.

  2. AK

    Jul 3, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    My life is going to change after reading your quotes

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