Courtesy: Rudo Loock
Chasing success is hard. It takes a lot of hard work, often times more than we might expect. As a former swimmer and current swim coach, I have witnessed countless athletes express their desire to be the best. However, wanting it isn’t enough. It takes consistent effort and action to make it happen.
In this article we’ll explore the essential characteristics that all successful people have. These qualities are known as the “big 3 D’s” – Desire, Dedication, Discipline. Without these three pillars, achieving success can be a daunting task that often ends in disappointment.
The first and most crucial pillar of success, is desire. It’s the driving force behind achieving any goal. Desire is fueled by your why. Why do you wake up every morning? Why do you show up to practice every day? Why do you continue to chase your dream, even when nothing goes your way?
Your why determines your motivation, determination, perseverance. Without it, you’ll lack the drive to overcome challenges and pursue your dreams.
Let’s look at an example:
Mike is practicing to make the US Olympic team for 2024 in swimming. He shows up to every single practice every day, focused and ready to put in the work. On some days, he doesn’t feel like showing up to the pool. These are the days where he reminds himself why he is putting in all this work. He wants to make the US Olympic Swim team and the only way to do that is to stay disciplined.
In Mike’s case, he is a very good swimmer. However, he knows that he needs to be in the best shape possible in order to even have a chance to make the Olympic team. It’s not guaranteed that he will make it, but his desire to make it overpowers his mind telling him to skip practice.
His desire encourages his growth. It pushes him to continually strive for improvement in both the physical and mental aspects of the sport.
Whether you wake up early every morning, show up to practice every day, or continue chasing your dreams despite setbacks, it’s your desire that fuels your efforts. It gives you the confidence to face any obstacle that comes your way. So, make sure you know your why and let it be the catalyst for your success.
Dedication is all about the effort you put in when no one is watching. While it’s easy to work hard when people are looking, true dedication requires unwavering commitment to your goals. When the lights are off, do you choose to prioritize your health and training, or do you give in to distractions? Achieving your goals often means making sacrifices, and the level of dedication you bring to your work can determine your success.
Let’s look at Mike’s example again:
Mike just finished a grueling practice. His body is on the verge of collapsing and his mind is telling him to go home and do nothing. Mike recognizes that he is exhausted and probably shouldn’t do much. He gets home, turns on the TV and starts to stretch and roll out his sore muscles.
In the pursuit of excellence, it’s common for athletes like Mike like to think that extra work after practice is the key to success. However, Mike realized that overexerting himself might hurt more than it might help. It’s crucial for athletes to listen to their bodies and understand their limits to avoid injuries and burnout.
Swimming is a highly competitive sport that demands consistent and intentional training over a long period of time. Without dedication and commitment, it is hard to achieve your desired results. So, how exactly do you work on your dedication? It’s actually simpler than you might think.
You need to grind it out every day, every practice. Each set demands a different level of effort. Sometimes, the focus is on perfecting your technique, while other times, you need to go fast off the blocks. Regardless of the set, it’s vital to remain focused and in the moment.
To achieve success in swimming or any other sport for that matter, it’s crucial to train consistently and effectively. While hard work is important, it’s also essential to work smart. You don’t always have to push your body to its limits. Sometimes, something as simple as stretching after practice can be just as beneficial as a strength workout before practice.
Remember, it’s not always about how much you train, but how you train.
When it comes to discipline, consistency is the key. Consistency is a trait that all great athletes share. They have an unmatched discipline when it comes to practice. Staying calm and patient is crucial. It is your ability to trust your process and stick to it. Being great takes time, and the greats understand that.
Let’s talk about Mike again:
Mike has a specific routine he follows when he goes to practice. He starts with an active dryland warm-up. This includes some light stretches and slowly getting his heart rate up. While he does this, he is listening to music on his headphones. He knows that by listening to his favorite music, he can remain calm and focused. When it’s time to jump in the pool, he is ready to go and continues to focus on technical elements that will help him swim faster.
Mike has a specific routine that helps him get in the zone during swim meets. He follows this routine every time, as he knows exactly what he needs to do to perform at his best. This is the result of his consistent discipline in practice, which has conditioned his mind and body to respond more effectively to these cues.
Discipline is the key factor that stands between you and crushing your goals. As Inky Johnson famously said, “The pain of regret is far heavier than the price of discipline.” This means that if you remain disciplined towards your goal and you give it your all, but it doesn’t work out, you can live with that. You can turn the page and say, “What’s next?”
However, it would be challenging to live with the regret of knowing that you didn’t give the moment your best effort. You will start asking questions like, “What if I did this one thing more every day?” or “What if I just stuck to it and gave it all I have?”
Those feelings and emotions will be much more painful than staying disciplined while working towards your goal. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re constantly asking yourself where you would’ve been if you worked harder.
So, stay disciplined. Work toward your goals and don’t let regret weigh you down. Give every moment everything you have. What’s the worst that could happen? An isolated setback doesn’t determine the entire journey.
ABOUT RUDO LOOCK
Rudo Loock is a former elite swimmer from South Africa. His journey to America started at Florida State University, where he studied and competed. He learned valuable mental strategies during a difficult time in his career after battling a major injury. Following that, he had one of the best swimming years of his career. Alpha Mindz (www.alpha-mindz.com) is a community he created to help struggling athletes overcome obstacles.