Think Like an Athlete to Win in Life

“If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do.” Michael Phelps

Thinking like an athlete can help you master life’s challenges: from preparing for success to dealing with failure. Get to know six strategies that can make athletes successful and understand how you can apply them to your everyday life:

#1 Visualization will take your results to the next level

Visualization is a well-established technique used in professional sports. Athletes do not only visualize their desired outcomes but also how to achieve them.

One of the best examples for successful visualization is probably Michael Phelps: his coach made him visualize every aspect of the race (from jumping into the water to winning) twice daily. The rest is history…

So, if you are preparing for a test, a speech, etc. visualize what you would do to achieve the best possible outcome. Try to create a detailed, vivid “mental movie” and watch it over and over again.

#2 Sometimes you need to make sacrifices

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”. Muhammad Ali

The sport often dictates an athlete’s life: it dictates the way he or she trains, eats or sleeps. However, successful athletes don’t question this. They have a dream and are willing to make sacrifices to reach it.

What are your priorities? What are you willing to make sacrifices to pursue them? Could you give up or delegate things that just kill your time and push you further away from your goals?

Make a list of your goals and a list of the things you’re willing to give up to reach them. You might notice that sacrificing something minor is easier than giving up your dream.

#3 Practice makes perfect

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”.

No athlete can unleash his or her potential without practicing key moves or maneuvers. For example, when I was preparing for Judo competitions, I did certain drills up to 1000 times a day. Sounds crazy? Yes? Does it work? Most of the time.

So, why do we assume that we can handle difficult situations such as negotiations, presentations, lectures, etc. without practice? Well, we might be able to “handle” them, but we could do better if we would practice and prepare.

I know it sounds wired, but try to practice your next challenging situation in front of a mirror. It will make a difference.

#4 Treat defeats as stepping stone to victory

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”.
Michael Jordan

After competitions, we always analyzed why we won or why we didn’t. In some cases, I learned more from the fights I lost: you understand if you need to work on your power, your speed, your agility, your coordination, your mental strength, etc. This makes it easy to define your next training goals.

Apart from that, defeat always motivated me to work harder and win the next fight.

If you fail, take enough time to analyze what you need to improve to succeed the next time you encounter a similar challenge. Do you need to work on your confidence? Do you need to gain knowledge about a specific topic? Do you need to be more persuasive?

#5 Being nervous is a sign of passion

“I tell you, it was kind of two-fold. I fortunately had a lot of support. My coach was amazing — he told me to focus on being prepared and that is what I did. Every athlete is nervous — any athlete who tells you they’re not nervous isn’t telling you the truth. I was as prepared as I could be”.
Carl Lewis

I used to be uber-nervous before every competition. One day I asked my trainer how I could stop that. He answered that he was nervous at each and every time he would step on the mat. He also told me that not being nervous can be a sign of not being passionate anymore.

If something is at stake, it’s okay to be nervous. If you are about to give an important speech, being nervous and excited about it is a good sign: you’re passionate about what you’re doing. In the best case, your passion is so strong that your audience can feel it too.

#6 Physical AND mental recovery is part of the process

“A lot of people underestimate rest, especially sleeping and recovery time”.
Jason Day

Athletes know that recovery days are an essential part of a training regime. Rest allows the body to build muscles and to regain energy.

Athletes that don’t take time for recovery will end up injured and overtrained. It’s the same with all of us: if you push yourself too hard, you end up wired and tired.

On the other hand, we often have the most inspirational ideas when we’re taking a break or a vacation from work.

In good health,

Interested in more weight loss or health hacks?

Change your life within the next 4 weeks: Kaizen Up Your Life by Rike Aprea and Sush Prusty, M.D. provides you 28 days of inspiration for a healthier, happier life. FREE for Kindle Unlimited Members or $3.29 without membership.

Rike Aprea

My name is Friederike Aprea. Most people call me Rike. I'm German-born and have lived and worked in Japan and Korea before I moved to the US. I coach individuals and companies using the principles of Kaizen. Whether you want to live a more purpose-driven life, improve your health, or change the business model of your company: Kaizen can get you there. Step by step. Day by day.

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