Learning from a Champion

"I can't wrap my head around it. It's a number, right? I don't even know what the number is. But it's a number," said Shiffrin, who took bronze in Thursday's opening event, the super-G. "So, in that way, sure, I can say, 'That's cool.' But today I was focused on today and in the super-G, I was focused on the super-G," Mikaela Shiffirn in a CBS News Interview.

In this interview Mikaela was talking about her latest victory, a gold in the Cortina World Championships. Based on my doctoral research, that included interviews with many of the greatest male and female skiing champions from the 50’s – 90’s it is the quote that I have put in bold that helps to make Shiffirin one of the very best – “But today I was focused on today and in the super-G, I was focused on the super-G," It seems so obvious and so basic, yet very few athletes or individuals in any endeavor can so easily keep yesterday as yesterday and tomorrow as not worth discussing until it happens.

I will even take this quote one step further and say that the greatest champions in sport not only have the ability to focus just on the immediate task, they also have a second very powerful related skill and that is the ability to forget. Whether in a previous race a mistake is made creating a painful loss or a gold medal is won, neither outcome matters when in the starting gate for the next race. The trick is how to establish this mindset and the short answer is that it takes an enormous amount of effort and dedication.

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