Wednesday, August 20, 2008

See What You CAN Do

I found this article about Michael Phelps' childhood struggles with ADHD very moving. Especially the last line "Too many adults looked at Ms. Phelps’s boy and saw what he couldn’t do. This week, the world will be tuned to the Beijing Olympics to see what he can do." As a mom, I know it can be difficult to help your kids see past the things that limit them, and to help them work hard, and latch onto the things that they do well and run with them. Michael Phelps is a great example of someone who turned his focus to his strengths with incredible results. I watched an interview with him and his mom this week just after he captured his 8th gold medal and could really see the bond between them and the amazing amount of encouragement that she was able to give him through his life, even when he struggled.

It's not just hard as a parent, but as an adult as well. Sometimes we talk to ourselves, not as a loving and supportive parent would, but as our own worst enemies might. When we don't measure up, when we blow an opportunity or have a bad day, it's easy to use self-talk that is less than what we would hope to be able to give ourselves. I know for myself, I struggle so much with running, sometimes I look in despair at the fast and graceful runners that call my town home and just wish that I could wave a magic wand and be able to run like they do. I forget that although I'm not blessed with that magic runner's body or talent, I do have other talents that I can concentrate on, while also working on my weak spots.

Along this vein, I was especially inspired watching the 200 & 400 IMs that Phelps swam. Although breaststroke is technically his "weakest" stroke, he somehow turned breaststroke into a secret weapon to pull away from his competitors. I wonder how many lengths he swam in the pool focusing on making that one weak spot into the leg that would secure two of his eight gold medals.

I'm old enough to remember watching Mark Spitz swim for his gold medals, and as a young swimmer at the time I remember the awestruck feeling I got, without really understanding all of the mechanics of his victories and the hard work behind them. Now as an adult athlete, I can say to myself in the pool that while I'm struggling to make myself finish that last few hundreds of my 4,000 yards, somewhere an athlete like Michael Phelps is pushing themselves beyond all reason to become the best of the best. My hat is off.

1 comment:

TriGirl 40 (okay - 41) said...

Wonderful and important insights. Things we should all remember - and pass on to future generations.