Michael Phelps, one of the greatest swimmers of all time, embodies a valuable lesson in this iconic photo taken during the 2016 Rio Olympics. The image captures the moment when his fiercest rival, Chad le Clos (wearing the green cap), lost the race.
Take a closer look. What do you notice? Indeed, the photographer captured the split second when Le Clos averted his gaze from his own lane to look at where Phelps was. That split second likely cost him a place on the podium.
Le Clos hesitates. He swims in his lane, but his head, his attention, is turned sideways, towards Phelps' lane. Phelps, on the other hand, just keeps swimming. He is fully immersed in his element, his gaze, his attention, fixed forward.
Le Clos is swimming against Phelps. Phelps is swimming towards victory. Whether in sports or in life, when we view our journey as a competition against others rather than an opportunity for personal growth, we have already lost.
When our heads and attention are constantly turned to the side, focused on other people's lanes instead of focusing on our own, we have already lost. If you want to lose, concentrate on the path of those who are winning. If you want to win, concentrate on your own path.
This profound lesson applies beyond the realm of sports. It reminds us that comparing ourselves to others and constantly seeking external validation detracts from our ability to achieve personal success. By fixating on the achievements and progress of others, we undermine our own potential and hinder our progress.
On the contrary, to truly win and accomplish our goals, we must concentrate on our own path. We need to cultivate self-awareness, recognize our capabilities, and leverage our strengths. This involves clearly defining our objectives, devising strategies to attain them, and dedicating our efforts and focus to what we can do to advance.
Focusing on our own journey does not mean disregarding others or isolating ourselves. Rather, it signifies adopting a mindset of personal growth and competing with ourselves, continuously striving to improve compared to who we were yesterday.
It means learning from others, drawing inspiration from their successes without falling into the trap of envy and frustration. In conclusion, the key to reaching our goals lies in redirecting our attention and energy towards our own progress.
By maintaining a forward-looking perspective, we can unleash our full potential and embark on a fulfilling journey of personal achievement. Remember, success is not about outdoing others, but about surpassing our previous selves.