I grew up competitive swimming. In fact, it was more than just swimming – it was life! Our team was one of the top teams on the West Coast and we trained like it. 11 practices per week and 5.5 hours of training per day during the week day! We averaged 10,000 meters per day in the pool and that did not even include the hour to hour and half of dryland training. (Which was a mixture of running, weights, pilates, etc.)
When you are swimming 10,000 meters per day in the same pool for days on end, you are literally staring at the same white and black tiles over and over. To add to this, we trained year-round in an outdoor pool so when it was 15 degrees in the winter or 110 degrees in the summer, we were outdoors! Rain or shine, we trained. We were in the pool by 5 AM for the morning practice and our evening practice ended at 7 PM.
When you train this hard, you don’t realize at the time but you learn some incredibly valuable life lessons; at the time, it was not appreciated but when I look back, I realized I learned 3 incredibly valuable lessons on creating a bulletproof mindset that has helped me today:
1.) All Games Are Won Off the Field – When you see someone with massive success whether it is sports, in sales, business, music, etc., it fools you to believe success can be easy or they got lucky. This could not be further from the truth. In swimming, those that win the awards and swim meets usually put in the most work in the pool. The focused on training the muscles and MIND to fatigue – and then pushed harder.
I remember we had one swim meet on Saturday that started at 12 PM. We usually had practice at 8 AM on Saturdays so naturally we all assumed that we didn’t have practice that day since we were competing – how wrong we were! We put in over 10,000 meters that morning before 11 AM and then we went to the swim meet. We ended up sweeping the entire meet and won every single category as well. The lesson our coach taught us there was that we often underestimate what our bodies can do and the mind fails first before the body! And yes, we did scare the heck out of our competition as a result!
When you look at high performing sales professionals, they put in more work in mastering their craft. The practice relentlessly with their scripting until it is buttery smooth and roleplay for mastery. Those in the top of of their fields do ALL the work when no one is looking so they WIN when everyone is watching. If you want to create that bulletproof mindset, put the work in during the off-hours and off-season!
2.) You Can Outwork Your Lack of Talent – Even though I swam competitively for years, what a lot of people didn’t realize was that I failed my swim classes leading up to it 4 years in a row! I wasn’t able to join the swim team until I was 9 years old because I was terrible at swimming. Once I was able to make it onto the team, I was the WORST kid on the team.
Turns out, it’s really not fun doing sports when you’re not good…however, fortunate for my Tiger Mom, I kept doing my best and put the work in. A year and half later, I was one of the top 5 fastest 10 year olds in the State of Oregon in the 50 yard breaststroke!
So at that point, it still hadn’t kicked in as I figured, “Ok, maybe I’m decent at this single event and my hard work made me better than most…I’m pretty sure I’m not that good at any other event…” As I got older, my coach continued to push me and develop me in other events. 7 years later and I qualified for Sectionals in close to a dozen events and was fortunate enough to break almost every single school record.
No matter your talent level in anything you do, if you put the RIGHT WORK in with the right coach, you can always take your game to the next level! If you are not naturally talented at closing, then practice relentlessly until it is smooth! Master objection handling until you can do it without thinking.
3.) Habits Are Everything – When you do that much repetitive motion in the pool, you realize after a while that whatever you consistently do will eventually become a habit! For example: I HATED waking up early – in fact, I still do! However, at an early age when you are waking up at 4:30 AM and you can’t hit snooze since it’ll make you late, it creates a habit! It created a habit that no matter how I felt whether it was tired or sick, to get moving once the alarm goes off! This habit carries over to this day!
However you start realizing that there are many micro-habits that can help you or hurt you. I started creating small micro-habits to help myself such as:
- Pre-packing my training bag the night before with clothes ready to go for a fast change before taking off in the AM!
- A mental warm-up routine to get myself fired up before a race!
- A physical stretching routine to get myself in a peak performing state!
- Reading books that allowed me to think deeply about when training 10,000 meters in the pool! (You get lost in your thoughts and you need to focus on something else outside of the muscle fatigue)
These are the good habits. You also realize you can create bad habits as well without realizing it and those are harder to break. Ex: not eating breakfast in the morning. (Now I eat 6 times per day) What you truly realize is that if you can create enough positive habits, it kicks your brain into auto-pilot for whatever you want to accomplish! If you don’t like a certain bad habit, build a new way to “out-habit” that bad habit!
If you have a bad habit of wasting time on social media during the day to the point it impacts your sales productivity, what are you doing to change that and create a new habit? Ex: easy way is to remove the distraction! Delete the apps that waste your time and make it HARDER for yourself to do it! Create the right habits and it will pay you back tenfold in the future!
So there you have it – 3 Lessons I Learned from Swimming 10,000 Meters Daily! Although at the time I didn’t appreciate it, now these 3 lessons have carried through and positively impacted me as a sales professional and leader! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to comment and share below. Also, if you get frustrated from deals taking forever to close, make sure to get my free training guide on 3 Secrets to Closing Deals Faster!