The Summer Olympics is here. A time when the best athletes in the world compete for the coveted gold medal. One of the greatest Olympic athletes of all time, Greg Louganis, was recently interviewed by Alison Beard for the Harvard Business Review.
Greg received double gold medals in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, has been inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and is widely considered the greatest diver in history.
In the interview, Alison asked him, “As an athlete, you were known for your extreme focus. How did you mentally prepare for competition?”
"Well, I was taught visualization when I was three.
So my first performance onstage, we went through our tech rehearsal, and then we had a dress rehearsal. And in the dress rehearsal, all of a sudden, I have this little tux with a top hat and a cane, and so there’s additional choreography to go along with it. And so my teacher, I think, out of frustration, because I was like three years old. And she knew if I’d done the routine over and over and over again, then I would be too fatigued to perform that night.
So she put me in the studio, played the music, and said, OK, imagine yourself doing the routine fluid. So she played the music and I would visualize myself doing the routine. It took four before it was completely fluid without a hitch or hesitation. And then she turned up the tempo, and she said, OK, do it again. And so even with the tempo turned up, I was able to be fluid in my visualization. And so then she said, OK, we’ll see. And so then I performed that night and didn’t miss a step.
At three years old, your perception doesn’t go much beyond yourself. You think, oh, well, everybody knows this. If I know it, everyone knows it. So then I took those tools to everything that I did, whether it be dance, acrobatics, gymnastics, diving, it was a tool that I was taught when I was three years old, so I didn’t question it. And that’s just how I processed it and how I prepared."
Visualization is a technique that just about all of the great athletes, performers and high achievers from all walks of life incorporate into their preparation routines.
To listen to excerpts of the interview or read the transcript, check out the full article – Greg Louganis on How to Achieve Peak Performance - https://hbr.org/ideacast/2016/06/greg-louganis-on-how-to-achieve-peak-performance.html.
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