In my mind, Bob Bowman is one of the greatest coaches of all time. He might not get that credit from most sports fans who only consider coaches of prominent teams for that distinction. However, Bowman helped one of the greatest athletes of all time become a champion. His student, swimmer Michael Phelps, won 23 Olympic gold medals under Bowman’s guidance.

Bob Bowman and his view of choking

Bowman had a unique perspective on choking and performance that we should all understand and adopt if we want to perform to the best of our potential in any aspect of our work and life.

Focus on your performance, not the outcome

Bob Bowman believes that in your pursuit of some goal, whether it’s a sports performance or competition or a challenge at work, you should not focus on the outcome itself. For example, Bowman and Phelps never focused on winning an event or a gold medal. There were simply too many aspects of a race they couldn’t control, such as the performance of another swimmer or bad luck. Instead, they focused on racing and turning in a certain time in a race, a time faster than in prior competitions. If they achieved that time, then they would almost certainly beat the other competitors.

Bowman feels that if you focus solely on the outcome, the pressure might get to you. When it comes time to deliver, whether it’s on stage, in a game or tournament, or on a test at school, if all you think about is the score or your grade or whether you get the sale, you might choke under the pressure.

Practice to do your absolute best every time and every day

Instead, focus on the process and performing your best every single time. To do it, you must practice to be the best. You can’t turn in A-level performances if you have been practicing at a B-level every day leading up to it.

According to Bowman, Phelps wouldn’t get upset if he lost a race. What Phelps hated, though, was underperforming. To Bowman and his star swimmer, there was no excuse for underperforming.

Bob Bowman on facing pressure

Apply Bowman’s philosophy in sports, at school or in your work

That is the lesson we need to take into whatever we want to do and wherever we want to excel. Don’t focus on the outcome. Focus on doing whatever it is to the absolute best that you can do it.

In the video above, I explain how you can apply Bowman’s philosophy into your training and performance in sports or a competition like a marathon. You can also use this concept in your education and at work to become a champion in anything you want to do.

Note: Each week, I share stories from some of the best athletes, coaches, and trainers in the world. These sports lessons aren’t just helpful on the field or court. They can teach you to excel as a leader and a champion in business and in life. If you have friends or family who would appreciate these lessons, please share this article with them. If you would like to receive more of these articles, sign up for my Champions in Sports, Business and Life email list.

Source: The Golden Rules: 10 Steps to World-Class Excellence in Your Life and Work by Bob Bowman with Charles Butler

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