Looking at the Vancouver winter olympics, I can’t stop thinking about the milliseconds that separate the champion from the second place.
Is it really such a big difference?
You might argue that the real winner is the one who sees the tangible result, the gold medal.
I will contradict you.
The real winner is the one who breaks the personal record during the contest.
I remember a story I read in a coaching book:
Bob Beamon, an American, won the gold medal in the 1968 Olympics by jumping more that 1 m beyond the world record. The Welshman Lyn Davies, who was expected to win the gold, was completely demoralized, and admitted that he had been completely focused on the gold, on the outcome, not the performance, and had he set himself a performance goal of say 10 m, or a personal best, and kept going for that, he would have got the medal.
This is the way coaching works. You set the stake, and it’s related to your performance, not the outside result.
Because we, as coaches, know that champions set internal stakes that are way higher than the world record. And we are here to help them adjust their performance to reach that stake.
That’s why I am proud of Swedish skier Anja Paerson, who demonstrated extraordinary internal will. After a crash in the Ladies Downhill skiing, everyone wondered if she would show up the next day for the other skiing events. She came, and managed to conquer pain and internal stress from the previous day fall, and won the bronze medal!
I am sure that for Anja this bronze medal is more worth than the gold.
And I encourage you to set your internal record, and break it!