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Michael Phelps is the man of the hour. Heck, maybe the year. It’s not often one guy walks away from the Olympics with four gold and two silver medals. It’s even less common (so less common that it’s never actually happened before), that one guy can claim 22 Olympic medals to his name. In fact, Michael Phelps is retiring with twice as many gold medals as any other Olympian. If there’s a Michael Jordan of swimming, you’re looking at him.
I really think Samuel L. Jackson put it best when he tweeted the following on Friday: “PHELPS WALKS em’ DOWN!!! Came & got that ASS! OLYMPIC RULER!!” When a guy famous for playing badass mofos calls you the ruler of anything, you’ve got to be doing something right.
No offense to Mr. Jackson, however, but Phelps happened to provide the world with an even more impressive quote on the subject:
“I was able to really put the final cherry on top tonight, put all the whipped cream I wanted and sprinkles. I was able to top off the sundae,” Phelps said. “It’s been a great career. It’s been a great journey. I can’t be any more happy than I am.”
After taking home the gold in the 4X100-meter medley, Phelps summed up his career in a sweet analogy. While Phelps may look like he’s never eaten ice cream in his life (I’d kill for those abs), this quote really lays out an important element in Phelps’ character and overall strategy for success.
To Phelps, being the most decorated Olympian of all time isn’t about the medals, but the journey that got him there. This guy clearly loves what he does. How often do you hear someone compare the progression of their career to an ice cream sundae?
In order to excel at anything, you’ve got to love what you’re doing. You’ve got to want it so badly it keeps you up at night. Surely, Michael Phelps had a deep desire to win. But it sounds like he just genuinely loves what he’s doing.
If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the Olympics in awe, rooting for our Olympians and wondering what it’d be like to achieve greatness in an athletic event.
Michael Phelps’ determination and love for sport isn’t something only reserved for famous millionaire athletes. It’s something we can all aspire to. Putting your all into weightlifting, MMA, baseball, anything is possible. You or I might not have teams of coaches behind us or 12 hours a day to train, but we can work with what we’ve got. We can top off our own sundae if we put the work in and love what we’re doing.
In reference to his recently announced retirement from swimming, Mr. Phelps said “Time for other things.” If he really is the Michael Jordan of swimming, perhaps he’ll follow Air Jordan’s lead and get involved in other sports. Or maybe he’ll miss it so much he’ll have to come back. Regardless, at least he can say he achieved greatness in something he truly loves. How about you?