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Dr. JoAnn's 7 Olympic Qualities for Sports and Life

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Even if you never compete in the Olympics, even if you don't win 22 medals life Michael Phelps, you can think and feel like an Olympian. You perform like one in every part of your life. In my last Huffington Post article I talked about examples of the Olympic Mindset. Now let's talk about how you can have your own winning mindset, and translate this into your own life.

Profile of the Olympic Gold Medal Mindset

What are the key characteristics of well-motivated Olympic athletes? And how do we achieve them? Through my extensive work with numerous Olympians over several years, I have developed a constellation of traits that defines the champion's mentality. Elite athletes do not possess superhuman powers or extraordinary qualifications limited to a selected few. The characteristics that make a champion can be attained and developed by ANYONE who wants to excel in sports, business or in life.

Enthusiasm and Desire -- Love for Your Sport: Olympic athletes have a hunger, a fire inside that fuels their passion to achieve an important goal, regardless of their level of talent or ability. To accomplish anything of value in life you need to begin with a vision or dream. The more clearly you can see that picture in your mind, the more likely it is to become reality. Wherever you place your attention, your energy will follow.

Courage to Succeed: Once an Olympian has the desire, he or she needs to back it up with courage -- the incentive to make any dream you dare to dream become reality. It takes courage to sacrifice, to work out when you're tired, to seek out tough competition when you know you'll probably lose. It takes courage to stick to your game plan and the relentless pursuit of your goal when you encounter obstacles. It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before, physically or mentally, to test your limits, and to break through barriers.

Internal Motivation and Self-Direction: Champion athletes decide early on that they are training and competing for themselves -- not for their parents, their coaches or for the medals. Direction and drive need to come from within. The goals must be ones that you have chosen because that's exactly what you want to be doing. Ask yourself, what keeps you running? Who are you doing it for?

Commitment to Excellence: How good do you want to be? Elite athletes know that to excel at their sport, they must decide to make it a priority in their life. They make an honest effort each day to be the best at what they do. At some point you must say, I want to be really good at this; I want this to work. To notice significant growth you must live this commitment and regularly stretch what you perceive to be your current limits.

Discipline, Consistency, Organization: Winning athletes know how to self-energize and work hard on a daily basis. Because they love what they do it is easier for them to maintain consistency in training and in competing. Regardless of personal problems, fatigue or difficult circumstances, they can generate the optimal amount of excitement and energy to do their best.

Being Focused and Yet Relaxed: Champions have the ability to maintain concentration for long periods of time. They can tune in what's critical to their performance and tune out what's not. They can easily let go of distractions and take control of their attention.

Ability to Handle Adversity: Olympic athletes know how to deal with difficult situations. Adversity builds character. When elite athletes know the odds are against them, they embrace the chance to explore the outer limits of their potential. Rather than avoiding pressure they feel challenged by it. They are calm and relaxed under fire. Setbacks become an opportunity for learning; they open the way for deep personal growth.

If you develop these Olympic qualities and practice these skills regularly you have the best chance of excelling in sports as well as personally and professionally. Each of us begins at a different starting point physically and mentally. To develop your own Olympic mindset and maximize your true potential, make the most of the talents you have, and stretch the limits of your abilities, both physically and psychologically. This can become a means to personal growth and enjoyment of the pursuit of your goals. Try incorporating the profile above into your mental preparation, and you can learn to live more fully, train more healthfully, and feel exactly the way you want to feel.

JoAnn Dahlkoetter, Ph.D., Olympic keynote speaker and leading sports psychologist, is the founder of Performing Edge Coaching International Association, offering coach certification training, and the editorial director of www.DrJoAnn.com as well as #1 bestselling author of Your Performing Edge.

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