Michael Phelps is a retired swimmer who now holds 22 Olympic medals (18 gold) making him the most decorated athlete in Olympic history!

olympics michael phelps

While listening to an interview with Phelps’s coach, Bob Bowman, I learned about a strategy that he used to train his swimmers – “familiar with chaos.”

In most cases, people and businesses try to avoid chaos. Why would any logical person seek to familiarize him or herself with it? As Bowman continued, it made a lot of sense. He shared three stories with NBC that shed great light.

Prepare For The Unexpected

In one instance, Phelps forgot his goggles. Even though Bowman could have easily given it to Phelps, he decided to pocket the goggles and let Phelps swim a race without them.

With preparation, Phelps already knew the number of strokes it took to reach from beginning to end, thus could swim it blindly.

It’d be nice to believe that if we applied every business and marketing fundamental, we’d easily succeed. Alas, this complex world is full of unexpectedness. Therefore, we must always be vigilant.

Push Through The Pain And Blurriness

Another time, Bowman intentionally stepped on Phelps’s goggles to create cracks. When submerged, chlorine water filled Phelps’s goggles, stung his eyes and caused blurriness.

This preparation proved particularly useful in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Phelps’s goggles filled with water in the 200-meter butterfly. Unperturbed, he continued swimming and set a new world record.

yosemite sunset

Like chlorine in your eyes, there might be times when your business is hurting. Stay focused on your goals. Adapt your strategies and push through the pain.

Stay Lean

Lastly, Bowman told the driver to pick up Phelps late, so that he would miss dinner before a meet the next day. Consequently, Phelps would swim hungrily.

I’ve always believed that my businesses should stay hungry and lean. Even with cushion, I never operated beyond my means. There is always adversity ahead and you must be ready.

The only certainty is uncertainty.

Bowman’s goal was to constantly raise the bar. He familiarized Phelps with chaos, so that Phelps was prepared to perform when it mattered most.

While it’s difficult (and dangerous) to replicate chaos in a business, because the ramifications could be dire, I do encourage you to challenge yourself. Set higher goals.

Always aim for the Moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
— W. Clement Stone

Embrace and always be prepared for chaos,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. Dog-sat a toy poodle for two weeks. Time for Lamb to go home. I’m off to some more traveling and won’t be able to take him along.

Puppies crave so much more attention than a cat. People tease cats as being indifferent. In retrospect, I welcome that cold shoulder.

poodle puppy

P.P.S. This week, I received a lovely note from a talented photographer whom I had the pleasure of doing a Skype consultation with regarding psychology of pricing and packaging!

Helloooo there!

Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with you for a Skype consultation.

It was there that you helped me with some re-branding ideas and new company name ‘Dear Stacey‘.

While we went over different ideas and concepts about how to present my photography, what I found made the most difference was learning about my target market.

We also went over pricing … my average booking is about 6k now. I literally wanted to vomit when I had to tell clients that rate for the first time! lol

I just wanted to give you an update and let you know how much I appreciated your help and advice.

I’m almost booked completely for 2013 and had even had some inquiries for 2014, believe it or not.

My next step is becoming even more of a niche (if I can get past the fear) …

… I was nervous I would be turning away business, but I’m at the point I almost need to because I’m so busy.

Anyway, sorry to get so verbose but I just thought it might be a bit entertaining for you to hear what has been in store for me.

Thank you for being a terrific investment and a wise mentor!