Gold Medalist Katie Ledecky’s Advice on Setting Goals

August 15, 2016

The Olympics are overflowing with inspiring personal stories in recent days. Astounding athletic talents like Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, and so many others have overcome numerous challenges and left us in awe during the Rio games.

Among the champions is Katie Ledecky who recently blew away the competition in the pool, and even broke her own world record. Ledecky has won five Olympic gold medals, nine world championships, and is the current world-record holder of the women’s 400-, 800-, and 1,500-meter freestyle. In this NBC Sports video, she recalls her childhood saying, “I never dreamed of going to the Olympics. I had no clue of how to qualify for the Olympic trials even. And I just continued to set goals, and one day going to the Olympics was my goal. And you just have to dream big, and work hard, and big things can happen.”

It’s understandable Ledecky never imagined she’d be swimming in the Olympics when she started swimming at the age of six. At that time, her only goal was to try to swim as fast as her 9-year-old brother Michael while in the pool. Michael has described how although he was three years older than Katie, she’d manage to be just one year behind his best swim times. When she was nine, Katie had the chance to meet Michael Phelps as a fan and got his autograph which certainly was inspiring. But sticking with the sport into high school, she developed both her textbook swimming skills and remarkable self-confidence in her ability to compete. Indeed, she set several records in the American and US Open, and the national high-school record for her prodigious freestyle racing.

And then the 15-year-old Ledecky made her international debut in London during the 2012 Olympic Games. She was the youngest American in the 2012 games. The young talent surprised audiences across the globe by winning the gold in the 800-meter freestyle. At the time, she stated, “I knew if I put my mind to it, I could do it,” and “I wasn’t intimidated at all.”

Clearly, the teen’s words reflected the ability to think like a champion. According to sport and performance psychology expert Dr. David Fletcher from Loughborough University many athletes have pre rehearsed scripts to repeat in their minds to maintain focus on their goals. “It’s convincing themselves of things they’ve done successfully in the past. Because often when the nerves hit you start doubting yourself,” he asserts.

Some other famous quotes from the now 19-year-old swimmer include:

“You just have to want it more than everyone else.”

“Go to that place, have a great swim. Whatever happens, happens. Have fun, enjoy it because there’s no guarantee you’ll ever be back there again.”

“I was prepared for it and it did hurt a lot, but I got the job done and it feels really good.”

“I try to make the good days great and take something positive from the days I’m not feeling good–work on technique or something like that.”

While actors and athletes have largely different skill sets, they both share certain aspects of their job requirements. For instance, there’s the emphasis on performance before audiences as well as the importance of self-confidence to excel in their fields. In Ledecky’s case, it’s apparent that as she set new goals for herself, she managed to plant the seeds of positive affirmations along the way.

Be Like Mike — Michael Jordan’s Gatorade Commercial and The Power of Dedication

August 16, 2015

You may have noticed Gatorade has been running a “Be Like Mike” revival campaign over the last few weeks. The classic Be Like Mike spot aired 23 years ago, and it was a ubiquitous marketing operation that proved to be a rocket launcher for Gatorade’s stock. The premise of the spot is that everyone wants to be like Mike. Everyone wants the fame, the adoration, the game, the money, the lifestyle just like the one and only Michael Jordan. “I dream, I move; I dream, I groove like Mike. If I could be like Mike.”

However, most of us would rather not think about what it took for Mike himself to be like Mike. Michael Jordan had enormous athletic gifts when he entered the NBA in 1984. With his highflying dunks and competitive nature, he quickly took the Bulls to the playoffs and became a fan favorite amongst basketball aficionados. But, it’s important to point out that it took MJ seven long years to win his first NBA championship. And in order to achieve that goal, he had to work tremendously hard because, as gifted as MJ was, certain aspects of his game needed improvement. His jump shot, for instance, was beautiful, but it wasn’t automatic. Consequently, he worked on his shot until it was money. There were some who argued that Michael was a liability on defense early in his career; as a result, he worked on his D and became the Defensive Player of the Year in 1988. Mike’s post game was basically nonexistent when he entered the league, but seven years into his career, he was a holy terror in the paint.

It’s important to note that even for someone with tremendous talent, hard work is a must. What are the areas of your career that could use some work? Should you be in scene study class or fine tuning your improv skills? Do your networking efforts need to be increased, or perhaps a more regular routine at the gym could reinvigorate your career? How about your command of different dialects? That  part of your game need work? It might be helpful to write down the aspects of your acting enterprise that might need improvement, and then get to it!

The real question is, are you doing everything in your power to succeed? Are you promoting your areas of strength while working to improve your weaknesses? Are you seizing every opportunity that’s available to you? And are you making best use of your time? Because if you wanna be like Mike, you gotta work like Mike!

Here’s to your highflying, slam-dunking acting career!