As the athletes head to the Olympic Games in London in a short few weeks, most of them realize they have one shot at success. Some Olympians have a few hours to pull off the feat of bringing home an Olympic medal.
Some have a few minutes. And a lucky few — myself included — have a few seconds. For this reason, ALL the athletes need to plan ahead.
Preparing for the 1998 Olympic Games, I decided to ready myself by making every day the Olympics, regardless of whether it was a training day, a World Cup competition or the real deal.
Whether I was feeling sick, the site wasn’t up to par, I didn’t have enough sleep or there was poor weather, I still had to imagine it was the day of the big event. I had to prepare for the unexpected.
That way, I would be ready for any eventuality the Olympics actually presented. Believe it or not, I secretly hoped for bad weather at the Olympics to give myself an advantage over the athletes who didn’t plan ahead for it.
And it was a good thing I did, because those eventualities were all thrown at me when the big day came.
It’s a lesson I’ve taken with me into my personal and professional life now and it has continually served me well. We need to redirect our failures so they work for us.
My neighbor is a pilot and he told me that a flight overseas is off-course the majority of the time. The reason it gets to its destination is because the pilot is constantly readjusting to put the plane back on course.
Be a pilot who keeps making corrections to get the job done. Today, pick a project or activity you are working on and come up with three alternate plans in case something goes wrong.
As with fire drills in grade school, it helps to plan several escape routes in case of an emergency. Expect the unexpected, and you will never be thrown too far off-course.
So when you are watching the Olympics this summer and you happen to see Michael Phelps’s swim goggle strap break, a raincloud settle in over Abby Wambach’s soccer game or an official postponing the start of Usain Bolt’s 100 meter final, it may not really be as tragic as it appears.