Good morning everyone, and welcome to the bed head chronicles. So, this morning, I want to talk about how expectations can kill us. In the year 2000, I was preparing for the Olympic trials in Sydney, Australia. I had set a goal that every single day, I was going to visualize the entire race from start to finish. Visualize the perfect race of me executing beautifully every moment and crossing the line, winning the race and making the US Olympic team. Every night I went through this visualization process of the perfect race for 365 days.
On the day of the Olympic trials, the gun went off, I dove into the water, and within 15 seconds I had been dunked into the water, kicked in the face and I lost the front pack. This was not in my visualization. I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t prepared for this. And I completely choked. I was swimming harder than I ever had, but I’m going backward. I got on the bike and I felt I was biking harder than I ever had before, and I’m going backward. People are passing me. It ended up being an absolute disaster.
The incredible lesson here was that when you visualize — whether it’s for a race, a meeting, a date, whatever it is — yes, you need to visualize things going great, but you also want to visualize things going wrong and see yourself overcoming these challenges. Overcoming these challenges with grace, with composure, with confidence, and seeing yourself on the other side. It is important to understand that things will never be “perfect”.
My race, when I became the world champion, I came out of the water in near dead last. Now, had I visualized the perfect race and thought that in order to be a world champion, I need to have a perfect race from start to finish. I would have never continued fighting on that day. But, instead, I decided “Okay. I’m in a crap position right now. I’m just going to put my head down and go as hard as I can and see how close I can get to the front.” And, on that day, I became a world champion.
My choking in the Olympic trials in 2000 has helped me understand that in life, yes, we want to be able to visualize things going great and achieving our ultimate goal. But we also need to anticipate things going wrong and build up the confidence also in our visualization of seeing something going wrong but seeing ourselves handling it with grace. Handling it with composure. And coming out the other side and succeeding. It’s so very important. Expectations kill.
If we think that everything needs to go perfectly to get the result we’re looking for, we’re never going to make it. Because you’re going to fail. You’re going to be disappointed. You’re going to make mistakes. So, all you can do is prepare to manage those situations in the best way possible. So, the only expectation I have for myself, which I encourage all of you to have the same, is to do the best that I can with what I have in every moment. That’s all we can expect. That’s all we can do. And it will change your life because then you’ll always know that you can achieve that ultimate result. It may not be pretty, but you’re going to learn from your mistakes. You’re going to handle them with composure and with grace. You’re going to overcome those challenges, come out stronger on the other side, and be committed to being the best that you can to create the result that you’re looking for.
I hope that helps everyone have an amazing day and embrace your bed head, too.