Bob Bowman’s Golden Rules for World Class Excellence

Michael Phelps’ swim coach shares his ‘Golden Rules’ for success in small business, and life.
Michael Phelps' olympic coach helped him to win 18 gold medals. Learn how his keys to swimming success can apply to success in business as well. (Photo: Bob Bowman)

Bob Bowman coached swimmer Michael Phelps to a record 18 gold medals in three Olympiads. Now, as he prepares Phelps and the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio De Janeiro, he shares his strategies for success in his new book “The Golden Rules: 10 Steps to World Class Excellence in Your Life and Work.”

Also the owner of a swimming and fitness facility in Baltimore and a horse breeding business, Bowman believes his rules for “getting gold out of every day” apply not only to sports but to any life endeavor, especially running a business.

Here, he explains his 10 concepts to live — and win — by.

Dream big: Have a vision and the ideas to implement it. “The idea is the impetus, the catalyst that ignites the process. Then you have to have a vision of where you want to go, and a game plan or roadmap of how you’re going to achieve that vision. You organize your daily life so every day is a step toward fulfilling the points on that road map.”

Adapt an all-in attitude. “The attitude you bring to your work is the key ingredient. Is this going to be an ordeal or an adventure? It’s how you look at it. There will be times of frustration and difficulty, and the energy you portray and the attitude you have to what’s going on will be the key ingredient in being successful. If you’re negative or get easily frustrated when you get a roadblock you’re never going to succeed. You to have a positive outlook when times are tough, because they’re going to be.”

Take risks and enjoy the results. “You don’t get anywhere unless you leave your comfort zone. You’re never going to grow your business or reach your personal potential if you’re complacent and keep doing the same things. In the beginning you don’t have to go way out, but practice taking calculated risks. You have to be constantly trying to upgrade, find a better way to do things. Maybe take on extra debt or risk if it means you’re going to grow your company.”

Short-term goals lead to long-term success. “Your immediate goals are the most important. Within the context of your long- term game plan, what you do on an individual day defines the quality of your business. What are you going to do right now? What are you going to do today that will get you there? The small decisions that you’re making right now will add up over time to something really big if you do it correctly. Specific things that you want to accomplish in six months, three months or three weeks or today add up to your bigger picture goals.”

Live the vision every day. “You have to rehearse success. I’m a big believer in visualization, seeing yourself in the future in a different way. When you set a strong goal of where you want to be in the future, and visualize that continually, your subconscious and conscious mind find ways to make that happen. It’s very important that you visualize success on a daily basis.”

A team concept can bring individual success. “You can have the greatest idea in the world and hire great people but if they don’t buy into the vision and don’t come to work feeling like they’re empowered, it’s not going to happen. The team aspect is very applicable to a small business. If the people on your team are on board with the vision, they’re going to put more energy and enthusiasm into it. As the head of the company, you have to sell the vision to them, let them know why it’s important, then let them contribute.”

Stay motivated over the long haul. “If you’re not motivated, it means that you do not have goals that are exciting or compelling, or have lost track of what they are and have gotten sidetracked. You’ve got to focus on those goals and what you’re here to do, what your vision, your mission, and what your game plan is. You have to keep referring back to that. No one is motivated every day, but if you want to succeed, you have to find motivation in the context of what your larger goals are.”

Adversity will make you stronger. “Everyone comes up against roadblocks. You can let them frustrate you, or you can work to solve the problem. In my own business, when we had a cash flow problem at the training facility, we changed the way we billed so the cash flow is steady all year long.”

When the time comes, perform with confidence. “You earn confidence by demonstrated performance. When you perform well at a certain level it gives you the confidence that you can move to the next level. If you have sales at a certain number and have demonstrated success at that level, then you can make some changes and take some risks so you can move to the next level.”

Celebrate your achievement, then decide what’s next. “When you achieve something you immediately want to move onto the next thing, but I think it’s important to take a little time to celebrate with your team and reflect on what you’ve accomplished and how you got there. Then you can refocus on your goal, because if you’re not moving forward, you’re sliding backward.”

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