As the swimmers came down the stretch for the last 25 meters, photographer David Ramos captured an iconic photo. In it, you see le Clos looking to his left, watching Phelps as he is pulling away. And Phelps? He’s staring directly at his target: the wall. (copied from The Pursuit of Excellence by Ryan Hawk, page 36)

What you may have forgotten about the story above is that le Clos had beaten Phelps in the previous Olympics. Phelps admitted his preparation wasn’t his best for those games. Lesson learned. I have one goal every day, one goal every week, one goal every month, and one every year. I always have ONLY ONE GOAL.

What do you often hear from others when you ask “How are you doing?” Without a doubt, I almost always hear the word BUSY. I don’t hide my frustration very well when I hear this from those I coach. BUSY IS A BAD FOUR-LETTER WORD.

I have ONE BIG GOAL THIS MONTH. If you followed me around, you would see it is true. It is fixed upon my mind. I have broken it down into smaller pieces. As Phelps’s aim was to win back that gold medal, he broke the goal down into smaller steps, he faithfully practiced those steps until the target was to simply touch that wall first. No matter what he was doing up to that point, it was all to accomplish the one goal.

Dreams don’t come true because you hope they do. Hope is a horrible strategy. I can tell when someone is going to win. They have a way about them. They are grinders. They are doing the little things every day no one notices. Then one day the world wonders how they did it.

Before setting a goal, think about the daily actions it will take to achieve that goal. Are those actions something you can fall in love with? If not, rethink your goal.
Ryan Hawk


This blog post took inspiration from Ryan Hawk’s book, The Pursuit of Excellence. To enjoy more of his insights, listen to this podcast episode featuring Ryan Hawk himself.


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