As always, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympic athletes achieve feats of seemingly impossible levels of mastery and peak performance over the past weeks. I’m consistently inspired by their unwavering quest to realize their potential at levels far beyond the norm.

These highly disciplined individuals serve as a powerful reminder of what’s possible for those of us who are willing to consistently hold a potent vision of self-actualization and ceaselessly work towards its realization. We all aspire to be more, to manifest more of our potential as human beings. Aspiration is a fundamental aspect of who we are as humans.

Unfortunately, many if not most of us choose to believe that top notch peak performance is beyond our capacity. We think that the accomplishments of those who, as Abraham Maslow described it, “must be what they can be” are so far out of reach that it’s pointless to even consider the attempt. But the truth is that we don’t have to be world class athletes in order to begin realizing more of our potential and become “peak-performers” in our own everyday lives.

The Olympic athletes can serve as an excellent model for our own peak performance and self-actualization. All world class athletes begin with an inspiring vision of what they hope to achieve. Many are inspired by athletic performances they witnessed as children. They think, “I want to do that!”

Inspiration is the beginning point of all aspiration. What inspires you? What does it say about who you are as a unique individual and what you’d like to achieve in your life?

Next, the athletes form a vivid mental image of their desired outcome, which in their case is to envision a perfect performance in their event, as well as, perhaps, seeing themselves winning a medal at the Olympics.

Mental rehearsals can also play a powerful part in this process. Shortly before the 2000 Olympics, platform diving favorite, Laura Wilkinson broke her foot in a training accident. At the time when all of her competition was undergoing their most intensive training, she was unable to even climb up on the platform, much less practice her dives. All the experts said there was absolutely no way she’d even be able to qualify for the Olympics, not to mention competing or hoping to place.

But each day as she recovered from the injury, she went through her entire training regimen in vivid detail in her imagination—over and over again. She also envisioned herself winning the gold medal at the Olympics. And that’s exactly what happened. She did qualify, and though she started out the competition behind the Chinese divers, she came from behind to win the gold in her event.

Our subconscious minds cannot distinguish between an actual experience and one that’s been vividly imagined. So when we practice peak performance of any kind in our imagination, it powerfully programs our subconscious goal-seeking minds for success.

What is it that you’re inspired to achieve? Begin seeing it vividly in your mind as though it were already an established fact. Then do the next thing that Olympic athletes practice: add a burning emotional desire to your inspired vision. How would you feel, if the objective were already achieved? When used in this manner, our emotions act as a powerful magnetic force which attracts us unerringly to our goal.

Finally, Olympic champions take action on their dreams. They undergo both the repetitive practice as well as the physical conditioning which propels them towards victory. In everyday terms, this translates to simply taking whatever physical action is required to achieve the desired outcome—doggedly, determinedly, and persistently—until the goal is reached.

From inspiration to mental vision to emotional passion to physical realization, we can all begin to realize our aspirations and move towards greater self-actualization. Find what inspires you, see it clearly with a burning desire, and act until it becomes reality—and you’ll surely find your inner champion!

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