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The Psychology of Success: Leadership Lessons From an Olympic Swimmer

What could Olympic medalist Katie Ledecky, who holds five gold medals in swimming and shattered the world record in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2016 Olympics, teach healthcare leaders about leadership? Four lessons stand out.

Do the work. Ledecky?s day starts at 4:05 a.m. with a breakfast of two slices of toast with peanut butter and a banana or apple before swimming from 5-6:30 a.m. and again from 3:30-6 p.m., not counting one hour of dry-land training three days a week. She?s spent thousands of hours spent honing her skills?and she?s 19. More than that: She wants to do the work required to succeed on a global level.

Skip the back-up plan. When your primary goal is the only goal in sight, you?ll work harder to achieve it.

Don?t follow the crowd. Ledecky trains at near-race pace every day, twice a day, with a stroke rate that is significantly higher than the rate of most swimmers.

Set big goals. Ledecky doesn?t just want to win each race. She wants to set world records?and she has, multiple times.

Never stop setting goals. After Ledecky first broke the world record in 800-meter freestyle, she and her coach set a goal to do it again, this time with a winning time under 8 minutes, 5 seconds. Ledecky?s winning time in the 2016 Olympics: 8 minutes, 4.79 seconds.

?Adapted from ?6 Ways Katie Ledecky Thinks Differently: The Psychology of Success,?, Aug. 11, 2016.


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