Dealing with Adversity – Defeated Michael Phelps Shatters World Record

by Victor Cheng

In my book, winning is winning. The skills you use to win in one field are very much transportable to another field.

It is with this in mind that I’ve been following the Michael Phelps story over the past 48 hours.

Yesterday, Phelps got demolished in one of his olympic event races – losing by an entire body length. Apparently this was a shock to the swimming world. A major upset. The first time Phelps has lost by this magnitude in nearly half a decade (or something along those lines.)

There was some controversy over the other swimmer wearing a new kind of swimsuit that Phelps wasn’t able to wear due to his endorsement contracts.

Instead of getting distracted by the politics, he comes back today in another event and shatters his own world record in the new event.

The great champions in any field, whether it be sports or business, may stumble… but they never ever give up. And this alone is one big secret to winning in adverse conditions.

For the greatest champions, losing is completely and utterly unacceptable. And the same can absolutely be said for entrepreneurs. The great ones never quit. They always find a way.

Here’s the question of the day:

Do you have the mental attitude of a Michael Phelps, or the attitude of those who he routinely beats?

Why or why not? Post your comments below

Comments

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron McFarland July 29, 2009 at 9:32 PM

Good comments about Michael Phelps. I think great winners spend very little time looking at the score to see whose winning and whose losing. All their attention is on their activities and performing them the very best they can. For example, the great swimmers are think about their strokes not their seconds. The great sales people are thinking about their presentation skills and not their sales figures.

Again, great comments.

Ron in Tokyo

stuart smith July 30, 2009 at 12:55 AM

wow great read and question i am a michael phelps of course perception is great isnt it?
Why i hear you ask ive probably had more learning curves than bill gates has had hot dinners some miner, many major but all curves in all their splender.
I think its all down to indomitable spirit michael phelps is a great example to us all, will we sink or swim,pre tax profits loss or smash the record books.I dont have rose speckled glasses of perception as that is a luxury non of us can afford as Zig Ziglar says see you at the top. Pride and Respect stuart smith

Debbie Phillips July 30, 2009 at 4:50 AM

Great post, Victor.
Giving up just never, ever enters my mind. My thought is always: “do I really want to do this? OK then, how can I make it happen?”

Leslie Salka July 30, 2009 at 6:48 AM

This post truly made my morning!

I believe that successful entrepreneurs realize that the true competition lies within themselves, maintaining their focus on refining & improving their own techniques/talents regardless of the economic climate or the guy who has a bionic swimsuit in the next lane over. There will always be the next best whatever.

I try always to find the lesson from each stumble, continue to keep finding a new challenge – it requires lots of optimism & perseverance. Sometimes its scary to be self employed, but, it’s more terrifying not to be empowered with the choices I am now privileged to make for my self every day.

It seems clearly defined in these moments shared through Michael Phelps’ experience.
We need only strive to be our best selves. Surely that can never fail.

kim r. July 30, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Well of course I’m like his defeated opponents. I have a retail business and the economy in our area is horrible!

Patti Rice July 31, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Nice validation regarding Michael Phelps – no excuses or complaints about “fairness.” Ultimately, it is more important to have your own personal standards and goals, instead of basing your performance or energy on some one else.

Keeping your eyes open to inspiration from others is important – even if it is learning from examples that are bad examples (sometimes those are the MOST valuable)!

Victor – keep up the good work – you are a beacon of common sense in a crazy world!

Marcus Belardes August 2, 2009 at 2:00 PM

Victor,

The Michael Phelps story reminds me of being a grunt in a Marine Corps infantry regiment (1st Battalion 5th Marines, the fightin’ fifth!) during the first Gulf War. I quickly learned that winning was the ONLY option. Second place sucks in combat!

I took the lessons from this little war to the restaurant business and they’ve served me well during my career. However, many of my coworkers and bosses thought I was a bit crazy until this current recession. The reality of survival of the fittest (or the best, fastest, strongest, etc.) isn’t just a theory anymore.

But as this recession stretches out I also remember the mental toughness that was required during those challenging times. The never give up mentality when it was over 120 degrees in the summer and below 45 degrees during the winter nights. You have to keep going and never quit.

Well before the war one of my company commanders took us on a long run to teach us this lesson. Must have been 8-10 miles. We always slowed down a block or so from our barracks and stopped in front to wind down and stretch. But one day he took off again after slowing! About half the company quit! They just stopped running. He took us up about a half block, turned around and came right back. He looked around and said, “Some of you quit because you already decided where the end is. And when you had to go farther you couldn’t do it. Don’t set yourself up mentally for failure.”

I have never forgotten that lesson. It doesn’t mean don’t have a strategy or plan for your success. It simply means that the world changes quickly in combat (and in this recession) and you have to be prepared to go further and farther than you ever imagined.

It’s gotten easier for me to pass this lesson along over the last several months. This recession will end but I don’t look at it as a negative or a struggle. I look at it as a gauntlet and test of leadership that will serve me well down the road.

Marcus Belardes, Director of Operations, Asqew Grill

Victor Cheng August 3, 2009 at 12:26 PM

Ron,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I’m going to half agree with you and half disagree with you. I think the top performers look at both the score… and the process. (e.g., sales = the score, # phone calls made = the process).

-Victor

Daniel August 4, 2009 at 7:54 AM

Victor,

Theese are the kind of aversities that make us stronger. We might have a little bump in the road but we are focussed on our goal, whatever that goal might be. Thank’s for bringing this article to our attention, it is always good to get food for thought.

Warm Regards,
Daniel Santana Vega

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