The last two news cycles have documented two men in quest of their respective dreams. One man failed while the other conquered. Let’s face it though, both were nearly insurmountable dreams. One man wanted to be the president of the United States while the other wants to change his sport forever. In my mind, there are some interesting parallels worth thinking about.
John Edwards. I felt Edwards could have beat George W. Bush in 2004. But for some reason the DNC orchestrated the ticket of Kerry/Edwards instead of Edwards/Kerry. In my eyes only two details really matter about John Edwards failure.
#1 John Edwards has owned his mistake. He didn’t try to pretend that it was an accident, and despite some initial hopes that the story would never become public… once it was public he dealt with it quickly. He manned up and I can respect that.
#2 John Edwards was an idiot. Really. He broke one of the simplest rules of any man in leadership… don’t put yourself in a situation to fail. I didn’t catch all of the details, but it was clear that Edwards began traveling with his web videographer and not his wife. I don’t care who you are, no one is immune to temptation. If King David can fall so can you. At some point in the planning someone in John’s life should have said, “Hey John, I think you should take an accountability partner (like one of his kids) to Africa with you.”
Michael Phelps. Since we’ve been moving I’ve missed most of the Olympics. But I’ve caught enough to know that Phelps has electrified the sporting world by winning 8 Olympic Gold Medals. Let’s see a couple opposite parallels between Phelps and Edwards.
#1 Michael Phelps made his own goal. I don’t know exactly what he means by it, but Michael Phelps desires to change the face of swimming. Winning 8 Gold Medals in a single Olympics is a crazy goal… but he made the goal and he took the steps to make it happen. Sure, he’s been blessed with a swimmers body. Sure, he’s had the best training. Sure, he’s had the best equipment. But that can be assumed of almost every swimmer in that pool. For some reason Phelps was able to take that body, that training, and that equipment to a place never dreamed of before. Think of all the millions of decisions Phelps has made over the last decade… all aimed at accomplishing his goal.
#2 Michael Phelps is brilliant. I know I am into marketing so I notice these things. But lets just say there has never been a more wealthy swimmer. He could retire now, never swim competitively again, and just live off of the cash he’s made in commercials. Instead, Phelps knew that if he accomplished his goal, surrounded himself with the right people, that he could change the sport and his world forever. My guess is that Phelps will be the richest junior at the University of Michigan this fall. Because while this was one amazing goal, the next goal is on the horizon for him.