10 Steps to World-Class Excellence in Your Life and Work

Michael Phelps is one of the most decorated sports stars of all time. His performance in the Rio Olympics was a revelation and showed his resilience in action. While he deserves all the credit for what he has achieved there is a coach in the background who deserves a lot of credit for bringing the best out of him.
Of course his coach is Bob Bowman and he is considered as one of the best coaches in Olympic history. How would it be if he shared all his insight on what it takes to be a champion. That’s what he has done with the book titled “The Golden Rules” he has coauthored with Charles Butler. Here are the 10 steps to World-class excellence in your life and work with my take on each.
Set a Big Vision – It all starts with having an audacious vision for your life. Here are some questions that can start the journey toward defining your vision. What you want to achieve by the time you retire? What do you want other people to say when you are not there? How much do you want to earn over the next 3-5 years? Where do you want to end up when your career is over? What are the hobbies you want to pursue? These are some questions that can help us set a vision which can propel us forward.
Adopt an All-In Attitude – I take this to mean that throw your whole heart into whatever you do for a living. Bob sights Michael Phelps as someone who has this attitude. A person with this attitude never accepts defeat, always practices to get better, works on their weakness and focuses on improving strengths. This attitude can surely help us develop an undef-eatable attitude.
Take Risks and then enjoy the Rewards – This is commonsense for most of us. If we want to achieve the vision we have set for ourselves we obviously have to take some risks. Without risks there are no rewards. The potential to take a risk depends on a lot of factors including your family and financial situation. However take risks while considering the possibility of failure. Always have an alternative plan in case it doesn’t work out as planned.
Short Term Goals lead to Long Term Success – This is a simple strategy and the basic premise is to set intermediate goals which eventually lead you closer to the vision you have set.  For example if you want to run a marathon then you have to set short term goals like running 5k, 10k, 15k, 20k and so on over a period of months before you can complete it. Everything we want takes time and we need to set those 90 day goals which will lead us to achieve our long term goals. As Henry David Thoreau said "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
Live the vision every day – The important key in the first step towards defining your vision is to write it down. Without crystallizing it on paper there is no way you can achieve what you set out to do. Every day take one step however small towards your vision. For example if you want to be one of the best producers in your field you can take the step of reading 30-60 min in your field every day. If you do this over a long period of time you will become exceptional in your field.
A Team approach can lead to individual Success – I take this to mean that you should have a great support structure. You can’t achieve anything alone. Michael Phelps has a great support structure and so does every sporting legend. In the application to our lives we can get mentors in our work, get mentors through books and have a strong network of family and friends to support us during our tough times.
Stay Motivated towards the Long Haul – This is the key that separates the world class performers from the rest. You can be great one day but can you sustain it over a period of 30-40 years. This requires thoughtful reflection but if we want to achieve something big we need to be in it for the long haul. One way to stay motivated is to have side activities which can give us pleasure and sufficient distraction to ease the pressure. No one can produce all the time so we have to be strategic about taking time off and recharging our batteries while keeping the final destination in sight.
Adversity will make you Stronger – None of us want to face adversity but it does come no matter how much we try to avoid it. This quote from Napoleon Hill is very true “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent benefit.” This means that whenever adversity strikes we should look into it for the lesson it teaches us. Once we discover the lesson ensure the same thing is not repeated.
Perform with Confidence– Once you have done all the preparation the final icing on the cake is your performance. Without the confidence you cannot perform. Confidence can be developed through practice, writing down your strengths, writing down all your accomplishments, not worrying about what others think of you and having a long term vision for your life. Confidence is hard earned but once you have it things will fall in place.
Celebrate your achievement then decide what’s next – What’s the point in achieving something if you are not happy once it is done. Sometimes we all go full blast to achieve something and then once that is done there is certain emptiness which cannot be explained. The best way to avoid this is to plan your celebration routine ahead of time and do something nice for yourself when you achieve something. Once this is done which won’t last too long you need to set what the next accomplishment is going to be. This is the only way to stay motivated over the long haul.
There you have it the 10 steps to achieve peak performance in your work and personal lives. I am sure if we follow the 10 steps we will achieve more.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.



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