Years of training and preparation are the obvious foundations for their success, but there are other, more subtle practices that set in motion their trajectory towards victory.
If we study the successful, especially athletes, we can learn a great deal about how to create similar success with our dreams.
For my example, I am going to compare Olympic training to creating the best blog among blogs.
1. Enjoying what you do.
We’ve all heard this before, but I’ll say it again: dreaming should feel good. When you look at all the images of the Olympians when they were kids, practicing away at their sport, they have big grins on their faces as they twist in their skins from exuberant excitement.
You should enjoy blogging and working on your blog too. It should draw you in and make you want to work on it, make it better, write better, and do better. You should be twisting in your skin every time you get to hit that publish button to share your thoughts with the world.
2. Practice and Training.
Olympic athletes practice anywhere from 3 to 7 hours a day when in training. They focus on the basics as well as gaining strength. Great coaches know that it’s the basics that will carry athletes through to success.
With blogging you have to work on the basics of your site structure, the look and navigation, good titles, researched keywords, and study your grammar and writing skills. The more you blog, the better you become at blogging. The more blogs you read, and the more you read about what it takes to create a great blog, the more polished your site becomes.
3. Coaching and feedback.
Great athletes have coaches and believe in constant feedback. The coach is there not only to train the athlete, but make them mentally tough and to work on any weaknesses. It’s a trust relationship, where the athlete has to be open to hearing the good with the bad and want to improve.
Feedback is crucial to blogging success and this is why it’s great to have readers and commenters. Commenters will tell you what they don’t like about your blog, what is working, and what they would like to see you change. You have to be able to separate yourself from the feedback and be open to hearing suggestions. Many times your readers see your blog better than you do.
Asking successful bloggers what they think about your blog is also important so that you hear where your peers think your blog looks unprofessional. Successful bloggers can take one look at your blog and tell you what’s holding you back. Constructive criticism fine tunes your blog … use it. Embrace it.
4. Having a big goal.
Olympic athletes have one big goal in mind: compete in the Olympics. They have secondary goals of winning medals, but first they must make it through the trials in order to compete. Having big goals makes them work harder than anyone else to achieve their dreams.
Think about two kids taking swimming lessons — one wants to go to the Olympics and one wants to compete on his or her high school swim team. Who do you think is going to train longer and harder?
Think about winning a Webby when you are working your blog. Could it qualify? Setting your sights on a major web award makes you look at your blog dream from a different standard. Set the bar high and reach up to it. Don’t be like all the other websites out there. Be original and strive for excellence.
5. Long hours and many years.
Olympic athletes train for 3 — 8 hours a day for 10 or more years to compete for their shot at the Olympics.
Think about your blog dream as a 10 year plan. Set goals for each year that grow increasingly difficult as time passes. Spend more than 3 hours a week working on your blog. Treat blogging like (at least) a part-time job. By year five you should be seeing some major traffic and media attention .. as well as money, or a great career.
It takes money to train for the Olympics. There’s the coaching, the classes, the equipment and often times athletes are sponsored and supported by their community. The money helps pay for better equipment and more training so that the athlete can continue to improve.
Finding companies and brands that are willing to buy ads and sponsor your blog help you develop more for your community of readers. If you can make a living at blogging it gives you the time to work on your craft more hours in a day, rather trying to do it at night after a long day of work.
7. Recovering from injuries and setbacks.
Olympians get injuries. It’s inevitable with all the training. Accidents happen too. But great athletes don’t let these setbacks stop them. They do what they need to do to get back in the game.
Blog publishing comes with its own injuries and setbacks. You can get hacked. Your database can become corrupted. Another blogger can slam your work. Your offline life can get in the way. You can get sick. Your computer can crash and lose all your data. And sometimes success doesn’t come in the first 18 months of blogging like you thought it would; sometimes it takes longer. You have to be able to brush it off and continue working until you’ve achieved that sweet spot of being listed in the top 100 blogs in the world.
8. Never giving up.
Olympians don’t give up. Just listening to some of their heart-wrenching back stories as you watch the Olympic games can bring you to tears. They have survived and overcome setbacks that would have devastated most of us, but it made them stronger. They are the stories of champions.
Don’t give up on your blog because you are in year three and it’s not happening the way you thought it would. Change your plans, do something different, but don’t quit. You’ll never know how far you could have gone with your blog if you stop blogging now.
Watching the Olympics in London reminds all of us that it takes real heart to go the distance and see your big dreams through to the end. What amazing stories you will tell about your dream journey and the heart it took to see it through to fruition — if you dare to dream big.
Each time we sit down to cheer on our favorite Olympian we remember how wonderful dreams really are and it warms the soul.
They show us that anything is possible when you have a dream.