5 Gold-Medal Winning Strategies You Can Use to Win at Life


The last two weeks at London Olympics was filled with phenomenal games. I was reminded of the remarkable level of performance human beings were capable of. Olympics always bring together the very best athletes in the world.  In fact, just making it to the Olympics is a triumph in and of itself.  Olympians around the world compete at the local level within their respective countries, then regionally, and then nationally.  Of those that make it at the national level, very few are good enough to compete internationally where the competition is even fiercer.  Of those that make it to that level, very, very few become Olympians – and very few of these world-class athletes become gold medalists. I wanted to share with you key strategies these gold medalists have used to help you become the very best in your life.

 1.    Discover your purpose

For gold medalists, the pursuit of excellence comes from an unstoppable purpose that galvanizes them to think beyond their own reputation, pride, and money. Many of them have discovered a purpose greater than themselves and have sought to maximize their talents to serve others.

The gold medalist gymnast Gabby Douglas shocked the world. The first African-American gymnast, she was regarded as the underdog. In the two weeks in London Olympics, she won gold medals in both the individual and team all-around competition.

In a recent interview, a reporter asked to the 16-year old Douglas, “What one thing would you want now that you have more money than you dreamed of?” The top of the list: An Acura NSX. “I want the one like Iron Man’s off ‘The Avengers,’” Douglas said. “That was a nice car.” Her purpose in life isn’t getting a cool sports car. In fact, she has believed that her purpose in life is to develop and maximize her talent to glorify God. Her first Tweet after winning the individual all-around read simply, “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Later at the press conference, she remarked, “God has given me this awesome talent to represent Him. Glory goes up to Him, and the blessings fall down on us.” At the church she attends, she gave a testimony saying, “the glory goes all to Him. He’s waking up every morning and He’s keeping me in the gym every day. That’s very important.”

Without this relentless belief in her mission, it’s hard to propel forward in life – especially when you face insurmountable obstacles in life. Now, have you discovered your purpose yet? What makes you do what you do every day? Why do you do it? What makes you unique and drives you to pursue excellence and greatness? If you find yourself struggling to answer these question, it isn’t too late to think about what is your purpose in life.

2.    Capitalize on strengths, mitigate weaknesses

Did you witness the Olympic champion Usain Bolt retain his title was the fastest man on the planet? He has achieved that no human being has ever achieved before. He is widely known as the world’s fastest man. But, did you know that Bolt was born with scoliosis – a condition in which the spine is curved from side to side. This creates muscle imbalances and hindered his ability to run, leading to a series of injuries in his career.

Although these physiological challenges made him slower in the start, Bolt rather leveraged on his strengths – his ability to take huge strides with his long legs. Size matters. Being 6ft 5in tall allows Bolt to take wider (and thus fewer) steps over a 100m race than his small rivals. On Sunday night he took 41 steps to win the Olympic final. Yohan Blake took 46 steps and Justin Gatlin took 42.5 steps. Bolt also possesses great strength and flexibility which allows him to accelerate quickly and maintain a very high speed. His advantages step from a superior stretch-shortening cycle function, which allows energy to be stored and used more effectively.

Do you know and clearly identify your top five strengths? Or, do you often focus more on improving your weaknesses instead of investing on building on your strengths? Numerous research show that leveraging your strengths will result in an overall increase in performance.

If you’d like to discover more about how you can put these strategies and more into place to get the most from your performance, download the free guide of my top five strengths. I highly recommend that you take the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment to help you gain clarity around your unique strengths.

3.    Seek out proven mentorship

Consider the example of Gabby Douglas. Her raw talent is world-class. However, we would be remiss to not consider the proven leadership and mentorship behind this Olympic gold medalist – coach Liang Chow. Chow is a former gymnast and personal coach of the 2008 Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson. He simply understands how to tap the raw talent and potential and unleash it into maximum capacity. Mentorship is an investment of time and energy – and it’s important for business leaders to look for a mentor to help them navigate …When Douglas was asked in an interview on her secret recipe of success, she noted Chow’s coaching. Chow, however, simply responded “There’s no secret – (only) hard work.”

Statistics show that coaching matters. A study commissioned by a Fortune 500 company determined that executive coaching produced an astounding 529% return on investment. 75% of the participants indicated that coaching had significant or very significant impact on at least one of nine business measures.

4.    Stay relentless, persistent and tenacious

Olympians don’t quit on themselves. They recognize defeat as a necessary obstacle to overcome in order to find eventual victory. Failure is short term and gold medalists never let a defeat define them. Here’s an interesting story you may like: “Dan Jansen was favored to win skating Gold in 1988, but on race day, Dan’s sister died. He later fell on the ice missing out on a medal. Never quitting, Jansen came back two Olympics later and won his Gold.

“If your dream is important to you, put in an Olympic-like effort to achieve it,” Anderson says. “When you fall off the beam…get back up. When you get inched out for a job…go the extra mile and move forward with even greater passion.”Whether it is empowering others to continue to pursue fading dreams or encouraging people to not let life’s tragedies derail hope, Anderson travels the country speaking to organizations about the power in living the “go the extra mile” message.

Besides speaking and writing, Anderson is also the Founder of Extra Mile America, an organization which will lead over 250 mayors in all 50 states to declare November 1, 2012, as “Extra Mile Day“… a day to recognize the capacity we each have to create positive chan ge in our families, organizations and communities when we go the extra mile. “Watching others succeed in the Olympics is fun…no doubt,” Anderson says. “But when we get only one life, why not try achieving our own Olympic-like success?”

How often do you give up when you encounter seemingly insurmountable challenges? Malcolm Gladwell says in “Outliers” that in order to be a master of anything, you need to invest 10,000 hours honing your skills. This turns out to be 4 hours every day for the next 10 years. If you find yourself not improving despite your efforts, stay tenacious and you’ll hard work will pay off.

5.    Visualizing Success  

When asked the secret to success, many gold medalists mentioned the disciplined process of mentally visualizing success. The record-setting Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps is known to mentally rehearse the perfect swim each night before he goes to sleep to experience feeling victorious before he even sets foot in the pool.   In fact, Phelps remarked how he started practicing visualization since the age of seven, watching what he calls “his videotape” of the perfect swim in his mind each night before going to mentally map out his ideal swim for the next day.

The Korean archery team has dominated the Olympic gold medals. The country’s best archers have tallied 30 medals since 1972, with a very impressive haul of 16 golds. Archers also use visualization techniques, such as shooting rounds with an unloaded bow and scoring themselves on how they feel they would have done. They will then shoot and score a round with arrows, with the tallies for the two often being just a few points apart.

Not only does this type of thinking works in sports, but it can prove effective in goal setting such as losing weight, changing habits, and  earning more money.

Can you clearly paint your gold medal moment in your life? Unless you can clearly visualize the end goal, it will be difficult for you mental rehearse how to strive for that ‘end goal.’ Describe the end goal in your journal. Try to be descriptive by using your five senses. Start making it a habit of visualizing success in your daily life.

See the YouTube clip on Kayla Harrison – the first gold medalist in Judo ever for the USA in this years Olympics. Kayla is also a survivor os childhood sexual abuse. She reminds herself several times a day, “This is my day, this is my purpose. Are you reminding yourself each day of how each moment of life is a gift from God? Do you realize the amazing purpose you have been given to bring glory to God through your life?


*You may have to watch the clip directly from YouTube if it doesn’t work due the link being unlisted.