Success Principles from Greg Louganis
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on February 21st, 2011

In my last blog I described how to exceed the limits that hold back most people. When you’re attuned to Mastery, each day brings another example of the universal truth of these principles. Today’s NY Times article Greg Louganis is Back on Board told of how the man who was arguably the greatest diver in US history is back at poolside after a 20+ year absence teaching the habits that made him great to a new generation of young divers.

Louganis was the first to win consecutive Olympic gold medals (1984 and 1988) in the platform and springboard events, a feat never equaled. In 1982, he was the first diver to earn a perfect 10 from all seven judges while performing a reverse two-and-a-half pike at the world championships.

As a competitor, Louganis’s mechanics were so sound that China’s national coaches in the 1980s pored over film of his dives and tailored their programs to match his technical precision. The Chinese have since dominated diving much as Louganis did, while the United States failed to win a diving medal at the past two Summer Olympics.

Since retiring in 1988, Louganis had disappeared from the pool deck, until he turned up last year to watch a competition in Fort Lauderdale. His spot-on assessments of divers led someone to ask, “Why haven’t you been coaching?”

Chris Mitchell, who started SoCal Divers, offered Louganis a coaching position. Louganis accepted after gaining assurances that he would be free to follow his building-blocks philosophy, which is different from the acrobatics-oriented approach favored by many American coaches.

Three key insights I took from the article are strikingly similar to the practices of high achievers who bypass the OK Plateau.

Louganis insists his divers show proficiency in one fundamental before moving on to the next.

He emphasizes practice over competition and the whole person over the athlete.

He encourages his divers to keep daily journals in which they write their intentions for each practice, then critique their performances.

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