Whatever Got You To The Top, Won't Keep You There

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

~Victor Frankl

The 1972 Olympics in Munich will forever be remembered for two separate reasons. First, for the 11 Israeli athletes who were taken hostage and later killed by Palestinian terrorists and the second reason for the extraordinary achievements by American swimmer Mark Spitz.

In those games, Spitz recorded 7 gold medals: the greatest achievement by any athlete ever up to that point.

For his medals, Spitz set four individual World records: 100-Meter (51.22), 200-Meter Freestyle (1:52.78), 100-Meter (54.27), and 200-Meter Butterfly (2:00.70). He also participated in three relay event World records: 4 x 100 Freestyle (3:26.42), 4 x 200 Freestyle (7:35.78), and 4 x 100 Medley (3:48.16). He swam the third leg of the 200 Freestyle and 100 Medley, and the last leg of the 100 Freestyle.

Now, here is where this story gets really interesting.

Today, 29 years later, each of Spitz's world record times wouldn't even qualify him to make the Olympic trials. For example, his time of 2:00.70 in the 200-Meter Butterfly today would not even make the top ten. In March of 2007, Michael Phelps of America set a new world record time of 1:52.09, a full 8 seconds faster than the once blazing fast Spitz.

And Phelps's record will also be broken.

So why am I telling you this? Simply because it makes a powerful point: Whatever skills or abilities we once had that took us to the top of our category, whether it be sales, business, communications, management , leadership or whatever is no longer sufficient to keep us on top or move us up the ladder of success.

Every record will be broken, and every achievement surpassed.

Remember when Bill Gates released Microsoft Windows? It was the greatest thing ever seen in technology, yet today is a dinosaur and could never work with the way technology has progressed. His company knew that they had to improve the product, so continuous improvement became the lifeblood of the company. Their goal was to always outdo themselves!

When I started in the sales and training business 23 years ago, I took a sales program to improve my ability to get business. It was a great program, and I learned a lot from it, but if I applied the skills that I learned then in the world today, I'd never make a sale.

But, still I see many people who fall into the "if it was good enough then, it should be good enough now" or the "it didn't work then, and it won't work now" trap.

Of course it won't!

Today's advancements would never work on old ideas or old technology.

If you want to set new records in your lifetime, you must be constantly in an attitude of "How can I improve?" You must vigorously fight the urge to rest on your laurels, because whatever you had to learn or do or become to be the person you are today, is not even near what you must be to become the person you could be tomorrow.

If you have ever wondered what you had to do to progress in your life or career, I have a few thoughts that may help you to move forward:

  1. Write a new vision every year. Add to an existing one or add a few new categories, but always be asking the question "What can I create in my life that will increase my results and quality of life? Don't keep the same vision as you had last year.
  2. Take risks and push your limits. Nothing great was ever created by being content with the status quo. To find new lands, you must leave the dock.
  3. Question everything. If something is "always done this way", find another way. It's not necessary to always take someone else's word for something, make up your own mind.
  4. Commit to the change you want to create. As Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
Following these few suggestions will not magically create change for you; you must have a hand in it as well. If you commit to the change and take faithful action each and every day, you will soon arrive at the finish line setting your own world record. But remember, all records are temporary.

You must set one and then strive to beat it each and every day.

Make this your best week ever.