How to Capture the Power of an Olympic Failure When You Speak
As much as I love to speak and coach, I occasionally take a break from it. Earlier this month, I enjoyed taking time to watch the Rio Olympics. There’s nothing quite like the spectacle of the best athletes competing in so many sports for 16 days.
There were several memorable story lines. The one that most captured my attention was that of swimmer Michael Phelps. At 31 years old, he once again dominated most events in which he participated.
Of course, this was a scene we’ve seen before. Or had we?
A Trip Down The Mountain
In 2008, 23-year old Michael Phelps was at his physical and mental peak. He was the first athlete to win 8 gold medals in a single Olympic games.
Jump ahead to 2014. He experienced a less than stellar performance in the 2012 London Olympic games. Soon after, his life went into a tailspin. Caught on video smoking marijuana. Arrested for driving drunk. A stay in a rehab facility. Suspended from competitive swimming.
He had reached a decision point. Change his ways, and get back on the right path? Or become another great talent whose life went down a self-destructive road?
He chose the more difficult course – get back up the mountain of success. I’ve heard that succeeding in sports a second time is much harder than the first. The body is much older. Your competitors are younger.
The More Impressive Accomplishment
That’s why I now admire Michael Phelps. It’s what he accomplished after he failed that is so impressive. This makes his story relatable to you and me. Every person has struggled and ‘fallen down’ in life. It’s how you handle the fall that shows who you are and what you are about.
How can his story help you when you speak?
You can have an impact on others if you’re willing to talk about your difficulties. Tell audience about your frustrations, flaws and failures. Speaker and coach Craig Valentine, says “Be willing to go to that dark place in your life that you don’t want to go. The one that hurts. That’s the place you need to talk about.”
When you are ready to discuss those toughest times, you will create a connection. This will be deeper than any you can develop when you talk only about your successes.
Pleased don’t misunderstand – audiences want to hear about your victories. They give people hope. But, those stories are most impactful when proceeded by the struggle that led you there.
As you prepare your next presentation, remember Michael Phelps. Reflect on what he accomplished after he tumbled down from his lofty perch. Think about his story of climbing back up that steep slope to the top of the mountain. Use his story as inspiration to craft your own tale of success after the fall.
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