What it takes to be in the 1% of the 1% and make the Summer Olympics

You will never compete in the summer Olympic games. Neither will I.

Out of the 7,021,836,029 people on planet earth this summer only about 10,500 athletes will compete for their countries in Rio (Down from the 10,950 in 2012 – but that’s a different story). That is 0.00015608 % of the earth’s popula1 percent pie graphtion, taking sig figs into account. 🙂

If you live in the United States our ratio of Olympic athletes to population is a bit higher.  We are sending 554 athletes to Rio, and with a population of 322,762,018 those 554 athletes represent 0.000172 % of our country.  47 of those 554 athletes are swimmers. 25 male, 22 Female.  The point? It is pretty darn tough to make the Olympic team.

If you and I won’t make the team who will?  Who decides who the 0.000172% will be?  The athletes do . . . that’s what makes the Olympics so special.

The athletes took a look at the same numbers we  just went through and said “so what?”.  They decided to devote their life to being that small percentage of the population, with no guarantee that they would make the team.  No guarantee that they would stay healthy enough to compete at trials.  They took a chance on themselves to do something great.

The head coach of my club team came up with a phrase that he has been reciting the past few months. It goes,  “Although we can not all be OlympianSucceed like Olympians, we can all be Olympian in our efforts.”  I’m sure most of the kids just brushed this off and thought “yea, yea. . . do the best you can, we get it”. However; Olympian effort is something truly extraordinary.

I think coach was correct in his sentiment, however; I feel that Olympian effort needs to be defined.  After all, less than 1% of our country understand what it means. From the outside looking in I think Olympian effort boils down to the following:

  1. Commit your everyday to a dream that is not guaranteed.
  2. Give up everything that can be detrimental to your dream. (Late nights, certain drinks/foods, certain habits)
  3. Sacrifice parts of your life because of the dream (Parties with friends, Vacations, TV shows, Visiting family/friends)
  4. Strive to be better in everything you do in your sport (Training, Recovery, Health)
  5. Deal with the stress and strain of keeping and/or breaking relationships.
  6. Only YOU can hold yourself accountable

In short . . . Discipline.  Discipline to do what you are supposed to everyday so you have a chance to be in the 0.00015608%.

How do we as athletes and coaches instill discipline into ourselves and our athletes?  I don’t have the answer for everyone. I think that individuals will have their own way of staying disciplined.  I know that I work on my self discipline everyday.Dog Discipline

There have been numerous studies done that help uncover how to cultivate self discipline. FORBES magazine did some digging and suggests that there are 5 methods to help with self discipline. They are:

  1. Remove temptation (Make it easy for you to make the right decision)
  2. Eat regularly & healthily (Think Snickers commercial . . . You’re not you when you’re hungry)
  3. Don’t wait for it to “feel” right (NOW is the best time to do what makes you better)
  4. Reward yourself (You ARE doing it . . . treat yourself)
  5. Forgive yourself & move on (Treat yourself like you’re best friend would treat you)

The entire article can be found here: 5 proven methods for gaining self discipline

If we can find the right balance of the methods above, better self discipline may be in our grasp.  If we can teach the methods to our athletes and get them to buy in, their future becomes brighter.

As you watch the Olympics these next few weeks, keep in mind the effort and discipline that these athletes continuously had to put forth. I challenge you to think about that sacrifice for every athlete from every country.  Every Olympian in Rio had to say “so what?” to the statistics, take a chance on themselves and remain disciplined to the process for years.Discipline calendar

I can confidently say that half of my opening statement is true (I will never go to the summer games – at least not as an athlete).  The other half is up in the air. . . .It is up to you.  If there is someone out there that has the talent, is willing to take a chance on themselves and combine that with self discipline day after day (Olympian effort). You may just be in the 0.00015608%.

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