Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Momma don't let your babies grow up to be Olympians!

Malcolm Gladwell: Journalist, best selling author,TED speaker stated that it takes 10,000 hours to master a subject. Many have disagreed with Gladwell's ten-thousand hour assessment. One of whom is, Josh Kaufman, another best selling author claiming that it only takes 20-hours or so to get good at most chosen subjects. The difference between mastering a subject and becoming great at it is extraordinarily minute. In fact, statistically speaking, there is not much difference at all...

Mastering a subject means you are an expert and retain complete control and produce consistent effects. Caeleb Dressel swam a 18.39 for a 50-yard free at the 2016 Southeastern Conference Championships. An amazing swim never accomplished before. With that accomplishment in mind how many Americans can swim 50-yards straight which includes a flip-turn at the wall in under a minute? Probably only 15%.

The Red Cross had this to say in a recent swim study:
"... [The Red Cross] found that while 80 percent of Americans said they could swim, only 56 percent of the self-described swimmers can perform all five of the basic skills that could save their life in the water. ..." 
These critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency” are the ability to:
  1. Step or jump into the water over your head
  2. Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute
  3. Turn around in a full circle and find an exit; swim 25 yards to the exit
  4. Exit from the water. (If in a pool, you must be able to exit without using the ladder.)
The average triathlete who may take 45-minutes to swim a mile may be considered a "great" swimmer by the average person walking down the street. We all know that the average person at large cannot swim all four strokes, nor do a flip turn, nor swim more than one lap in a 50-meter pool without the real possibility of cramping up or drowning. Swimming all four strokes is beyond an art form to these people,  in reality it's more like a "super power" straight out of a comic book. Thus,  revel in your glory if you have ever swam an IM for time. You are an elite individual within the population but what about Olympians? What are they to us, to society and to themselves?

Here are some names, Allison Schmidt, Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte? I could name more but it would not be polite. Here we have of the greatest swimmers of their day and what they have in common is not the medals they shared or the memories of Beijing and London but rather severe depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges. Why is this?

An Olympian works full-time for perhaps a dozen years or so at just one thing so as to be the best. After suffering a gauntlet of competitions proving again and again that they are in that one-billionth percentile of excellence they receive a medal, a wreath and their name possibly craved in marble. All this accomplished without adequate compensation, appreciation and/or real love. Once their times get slower and their teammates get younger they are summarily told to go home or perhaps make a lower middle class income passing on their knowledge to another Olympic hopeful but most likely never an Olympian like themselves. 

I want to get back to how long it takes to master a subject for therein may lie the key to avoiding depression and low self esteem that many Olympians suffer. Self esteem is all about feeling how effectual one can be as a result of past contributions and accomplishments. Self esteem is earned and it is not a individual sport. It's an individual that honor, dignity, and self respect... So how does one become effectual?

Imagine during that dozen years of showing up to practices at 5:30 AM, thereby up taking up six hours or more of their day, our Olympic hopeful took three of those precious hours to master three separate subjects they could never be absolute greatest at but could at least master?

These subjects could include such endeavors such as fine art, music, comedy, writing, filmmaking, acting, journalism, dancing, all those things that involve people by touching lives and inspiring others! — How about that? 15-hours a week away from practice is 780-hours a year. In one year alone our ad hoc Olympic hopeful could master so many things in those 12-years…  Most notably numerous noncompetitive accomplishments that bring happiness and a diversified friendship base in all walks of life and probably great wealth with it.

So, I hope you liked this post. I have been gone a while an accomplished a lot but I am back blogging agsain. How about that illustration?  Gatorade did that for me. A DC artist did the artwork and they published it. Been a long time, huh?

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