We live in an incredibly short-cut obsessed world. The demand for instant gratification has made us short-sighted and un-dedicated to the process.

Privilege has become entitlement.

The media has skewed our perception of possibility, and the ‘hack‘ has become the destination rather than the tool. We’re lead to believe in training regimens that yield enhanced performance with less work.

Hacks have become ways to expedite proficiency on a fraction of the time required for real mastery.

“Every genuine sustainable success is birthed only by virtue of incredible persistence, a million defeats, and unrelenting passion.” – Rich Roll

It’s easy to frame the narrative of an over-night-success. It’s easy to see how the media can manipulate reality. It can be argued that Katie Ledecky was an overnight success at the 2012 Olympics in London. On TV and online, the world watched a 15 year old super-star smash a world record. She was the youngest team member on the greatest swim team on the planet.

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The reality is that her over-night success was the result of years of incredible sacrifice, time-commitment, and hard work. We rarely hear about the daily 4:30am wakeups, countless dryland sessions, and Sunday workouts that have become the norm for athletes at this level.

Like Ledecky, the swimmers who take the stage in Rio will be there because they embraced the obstacles, missteps, doubt, and fear to the fullest without compromise. There were no hacks, no short cuts, just hard work.

As a coach, it’s easy to see how simple hacks yield sub-par performance in training and in competition. The one-hand touches, lane-marker grabs, and questionable breaststroke pullouts tend to result in decreases in self-empowerment. If you reflect back on a short cut you yourself have taken, ask:

“How did that experience make me feel?”

It most likely made you feel empty.

A life well lived is not all about results. It’s about the journey that we take and those we inspire on our path to achievement.

Our society inappropriately defines success. Have deep satisfaction in the process, but don’t loose sight of your individual goals and ambitions.

Total dedication and total commitment can be scary. The journey is never linear, but if you embrace the obstacles, missteps, doubt and fear to the fullest then you’ll experience quantum growth.

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Irrespective of outcome, whether it be failure or success, the prospect of either is what gives life context. Growth is the result of an investment in experience. There is nothing meme-worthy about the journey: it’s hard work, painful, and it will never trend on Twitter.

If you aspire to your own personal sense of greatness, then forget about hacking your swimming, and instead invest in experience, dedication and hard work. Hold yourself publicly accountable to your mastery, and allow yourself to fail.

When you allow yourself to train and compete with purpose, you unlock your true potential and embrace the real possibilities that you can achieve.

There are no short cuts, just hard work. Embrace the experience.

Happy swimming!