Belief: Better Than Doping

While watching the 100th Tour de France, I was thinking about the power of belief as a driver, if not the driver, of personal and professional success.

The best young rider in this year’s tour, Team Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, came in 2nd place in the General classification, second to Sky's Chris ‘Vrooom’ Froome. What makes Quintana’s victory all the more remarkable is that this was his first time racing Le Tour.

His first time.  

If you follow Le Tour, you know that it's like running a marathon every day for three weeks...for more than 2,115 miles. Considering Quintana's rookie status, Movistar's manager gave the 23-year-old climber from Columbia one directive: watch and learn.  He was a quick study. Quintana ended up on the podium on the Champs Elysees, claiming second overall...and the white and polka dot jerseys for Young Rider and Mountain classifications, respectively.

Even when the reasons for him to doubt outnumbered his reasons to believe, he never stopped pedaling. 


Quintana’s amazing victory reminded me of a story I read in Rafa, tennis phenom Rafa Nadal's autobiography. When Rafa was playing in one of his first major tournaments, he broke his finger on his left hand--his player's hand.  Miraculously, he finished the match and beat his opponent. He said his drive to win made him forget about the pain.

How do these athletes remain totally committed?  I believe it’s belief. Yes, there’s natural talent, and yes, they’ve trained their entire lives to optimize their skills. But talent without belief is like a tree without leaves.  A friend of mine says, we don’t fail in life because we’re fallible; we fail because we’re afraid to accept just how powerful we are. Really—who wants the responsibility of a god? That’s part of the reason we tend to set goals that we know we can accomplish, rarely punching above our weight.  Or, as Michelangelo said, "The danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it."

I’ll admit: it was pretty scary for me to go outside of my comfort zone and run in this year’s 8K Shamrock Shuffle. (I’m a sprinter, not a distance runner.)  But my drive to finish the race got me through; I set my sights well beyond my zone, and believed that my intention already achieved the goal.


Try this: Make the Present your new home for all of your important goals. The Future is a hypothesis, anyway. And the Past is history.  As a friend of mine says...Be In It.

Visualize A Better Now. Write out your goals in strong, declarative sentences, with verbs: 'I’m losing 5 pounds,' 'I’m running a marathon,' 'I’m moving to Rome,' etc.  (Remember: These aren’t “To Do” lists. They are “I Do” lists.) I prefer to write lists in long hand—it’s more organic and I feel personally connected to my thoughts...and more accountable. Also, ask yourself: What must be true for me to achieve this goal? And how will I know I’ve won…in other words, what does success look like in your mind’s eye? Create your vision of your accomplishment.

Review, Review, Review.  Just like in any business, to-do lists demand serious attention. Take a few minutes at the beginning (and/or end) of the day to focus on what you are stay the course.  This constant affirmation will be your mental cheerleader.

Keep It To Yourself. Some people believe in sharing goals with as many people as possible.  Tell family and friends and build a support network.  However this isn't best for everyone. For some, the best way to tell people what you’re doing is by doing it. Period. Deeds always speak louder than words. Small wonder Nike has built an empire around a simple yet wildly powerful maxim: Just Do It.



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