Olympic decathlete Bob Mathias
Have you ever had someone tell you that you were destined to do great things in life? Did you buy into their belief in you? Sometimes we have to rely on someone else’s belief until our own belief kicks in.
When Bob Mathias was young, he was an anemic, sickly kid. His love for sports drove him to get involved in track and field in high school. Over time Bob developed into a solid all around athlete but he was not national level in any one event.
Four months before the 1948 Olympic Games his track coach Virgil Thomas believed in Bob so much that he told him, “Bob, you have four years. If you got started right away, you could possibly make the 1952 Olympics in the decathlon.”
Coach Thomas’ belief in Mathias was incredible because Mathias had never run the 1500 meters, he had never pole-vaulted, he’d never thrown a javelin, and he had never even heard of the decathlon. To top it off, Mathias was only 17 years old!
Coach Thomas belief was so strong, that Mathias bought into it and started training right away. One month after he started training, Mathias competed in his first decathlon. Incredibly, he won first place! Two weeks later he entered the U.S. Decathlon National Championship. He won again! Six weeks later, he was competing in the 1948 Summer Olympic Games. He had beaten his coach’s prediction by four years!
Now Mathias was competing against much older and seasoned decathletes. The best in the world. Mathias amazed the world by becoming the youngest Decathlon Olympic Champion at the age of 17!
Mathias went on to win his second Olympic Decathlon in 1952. None of this would have been possible if his coach, his mentor, had not seen his greatness, believed in him, and encouraged him to pursue his dream.
When somebody compliments you, they have just seen a glimpse of your greatness. They have seen something about you that sticks out like a sore thumb. But it’s so natural to you that you discount it.
Next time someone compliments you, thank them, and start using your outstanding gift to reach your dream. Surround yourself with winners, find a mentor who believes in you, and win the Olympic Gold in your personal and professional life!