When I see Michael Phelps, I see his gold medals.  I picture his remarkable Olympic swims, his triumphs, his records, his endorsements, his time standing on the Olympic podium as our flag was being raised, and, have I mentioned his gold medals?  But what I, and I assume many, don’t picture is the daily, grueling work that prepared Phelps to rewrite history.

Recently I finished reading The Golden Rules: 10 Steps to World-Class Excellence in Your Life and Work.  In one part of the book, Bob Bowman, the swimming coach of Michael Phelps and many other successful swimmers, talks about how many swimmers take Sundays off.  Because of scheduling issues when Phelps was younger, Michael began practicing on Sundays and stuck to it as time passed.  So, while others were taking the day off, Phelps was, “getting five years of training into everyone else’s four years” (Bowman and Butler 131). That’s preparation.  And it’s just one example of how Phelps prepared.

When people fall short of their goals, it’s often due to a lack of preparation.  Perhaps you wanted to become more fit this year.  But, did you come up with a daily plan and stay committed to it?  It’s easy to look at the end result of what we’d like to achieve but we often don’t envision the long road that will get us there, thus resulting in disappointment.

I now appreciate Michael Phelps and Bob Bowman so much more.  I no longer just see the gold medals.  I respect the intense preparation the two went through to achieve excellence.  I see the medals that Phelps earned and deserves.

So my #OneWord2017 is preparation.  I plan to focus on the daily grind, the steps that are arduous and don’t sparkle and shine like gold medals do.  I’ll make this choice because behind every successful person is this easily overlooked preparation.


Bowman, Bob, and Charles Butler.  The Golden Rules: 10 Steps to World-Class  

     Excellence in Your Life and Work.  St. Martin’s Press, 2016.



2 thoughts on “Preparation

  1. Molly,

    This really hit home to me. So often we look at success, but fail to look at the preparation that went into it. I love Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” where he talks about the many (10,000) hours that go into making someone not just good, but great in their field. Thanks for the reminder and have a wonderful 2017!

    Liked by 1 person

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