How Do You Create an Olympic Hopeful? Assume The Opposite Is True.
Pop Quiz: What is the formula for creating a world class swimming champion that is expected to sweep the Olympics this summer?
If you said something like train really, really hard (like six hours, six days a week), work with a world class coach at a great facility and be blessed with good genes you would be right. In fact, this is the training formula followed by the swimming champion Micheal Phelps who won a whopping 8 gold medals in Beijing in 2008.
But there is always more than one path to success. One of the most effective ways to solve a difficult problem, reach a goal or launch a successful new product is to assume the opposite is true. The key is to challenge conventional wisdom. The same is true with sports. As a case in point, look at Missy “the Missile’ Franklin.
Accordingly to the WSJ Missy swims just two hours a day, ”less than half the yardage logged by top college swimmers.” Her coach, Todd Schmitz defies Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 rule believing too much training can produce burnout. Balance is as ‘as important to (Missy’s) success as stroke improvement.” Yet Missy could win up to seven medals at the London Olympics this August.
Speaking of coaches, Schmitz isn’t a world class sports authority training his prodigy at a state of the art facility. Schmitz started coaching the 8-and-under group at a Colorado youth club in 2002. The youth club costs just $2 an hour. Less than most public swimming pools or baby sitting services. Schmitz is passionate about the sport but he also values fun and play and believes it is a key ingredient to creating a successful, well-rounded champion.
This is good news for every well-meaning parent across America who is pushing their child to excel in sports. Swimming endless miles, paying for pricey coaches at expensive facilities is one way to succeed. The story of Missy Franklin, a teenager who loves swimming, skipped practice to attend her prom, studied for her drivers license and is expected to win gold this summer, offers another.
Missy Franklin and her coach Todd Schmitz is this week’s Gobsmack Moment of the week.
What is Gobsmack?
What is a ‘Gobsmack?’ The word means to be dumbfounded, surprised, amazed. What is amazing? There are the obvious examples: solar eclipses, fireworks and the one time my 8 year old volunteered to do the dishes. But what is truly amazing in my view is someone who looks at the world in a different way and thru that lens finds a unique-yet-dead-simple approach to solving a complex problem or achieving a difficult goal. These people see the world differently. They challenge conventional wisdom who unleash their creative potential. They are dot connectors, not pencil pushers.