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Michael Phelps – setting and achieving goals

Last week when we were on the Oregon coast, after freezing in the Pacific Ocean for a bit, I decided to warm up on the beach and make a sand sculpture. Since all of our family had been cheering on the great Phelps, I decided to do two sculptures of him: one doing the butterfly, and the other freestyle.

With the help of my terrific nephews and nieces, we’d first make a big heap of sand. At that point, there was no shape in particular, just the potential. Then, I’d stare at the sand and try to see within it the shape that I wanted to carve. Once the vision of that shape formed in my mind, the rest was easy… just carve away anything that shouldn’t be there.

Reflecting on the event later, I realized what a great metaphor this was. Each one of us is filled with potential. Each of us has the makings of greatness. All that we have to do is determine who it is we want to be or what it is we want to do, let that vision crystallize in our minds, then we simply start to carve away those parts that shouldn’t be there. Over time, the outline of our vision becomes visible. As we continue to mold and shape ourselves, soon the edges become clearer, and, seeing it through, we become the actual manifestation of our vision.

So it was in the case of Michael Phelps. Once he had determined that he would win eight gold medals, he set his mind to it, and began carving from his life those things that would keep him from his dream. He added here and there, where necessary, to make that dream come true.

On Saturday, I got to watch the fulfillment of his dream, and was inspired. I realized that never is it too late to form a new goal, however lofty, and then begin to shape myself for the cause.

May each of us catch a vision of what and who we want to be, and constantly work at making that dream come true.


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Center for Individual Excellence
Rusty Lindquist

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