On Wednesday August 27, I came accross a news piece that not only surprised me, it outraged me. As a father of a special needs child, reading the deceiptful practices put in place by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), as described in this article, I couldn’t help thinking about the population of kids who have developed incurable diseases because of these ilegal practices. And, as important, the legion of parents that now stand cheated and have to deal with the emotional and financial burden these diseases carry with them.
Unfortunately for humanity, the goverments of the world, along with large corporate conglomerates, have continued the practice of treackery and miss information of their citizens and customers. It’s a story that frequently repeats itself throughout history.
The act of deceit dates back to the early days of humanity. For parents with children with dissabilities, learning of actions like this creates a bleak scenario, in which we have less entities in which to entrust the health of our offspring.
Will the world ever rise from its ashes and become a land where everything is thought of to benefit the well being of its inhabitants, even if that means that those that survive are a fraction of those who occupied this world of today? I don’t know about you, but I’m one willing to accept the trade of.
It’s been said that there aren’t tougher human beings than athletes. Men and women in sports are famous for their resolution and nerves of steel in the face of tremendous pressure.
Guys like Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. Ladies like Steffi Graf, Nadia Comaneci, Katarina Witt, rise above the rest on the biggest of occasions and make it look easy in the process.
We know these athletes, admire them, even try to emulate them, but do we know what separates these sporting legends from the rest? Ask any sports psychologist and you’ll get a very straightforward answer. They believe in themselves with such determination that they have most opponents beaten even before they face them.
The mind is a very powerful thing. Every successful athlete will tell you their success is due to the power of their mind. One of the most compelling quotes I’ve read came from legendary Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, winner of 9 Olympic gold medals in track & field:
The mind is everything. Muscles are pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind.
This quote has been attributed the spark of the discussion among sports scientists “are athletes born or made”. Depending on who you ask, you may get an avalanche of different answers.
In his landmark book “The Sports Gene”, author David Epstein relates how certain populations across the world are more prone to develop mutations of certain genes, creating a perfect genetic cocktail for sports performance. Such is the case of the Jamaican sprinters and the marathoners hailing from Kenya.
Perhaps there are such genes pertaining to an athlete’s ability to use the power of the mind to achieve his or her goals.
Michael Phelps, the greatest swimmer and most decorated olympian of all time, is famous for visualizing his races so vividly that he has been known to exactly hit his goal times or just miss them by mere hundreds of a second.
In a June 2010 article published for Scientific American online, Michelle W. Voss, PhD., revealed that elite athletes have an advantage known as “changing the breadth of visual attention”. This refers to the ability of the athlete to stay focused on what is relevant to what he or she is doing. In some circles this has been associated with what in the sports world is called The Zone.
Back to Phelps.
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where Phelps won a stagering 8 gold medals, he was quoted as saying that when he’s about to race, he’s able to block all the noices surrounding the pool. Michael Jordan also described feeling a similar state of being during the final seconds of the basketball game, when the game was on the line.
One thing is for sure, the best athletes who have walked this earth have an intimidating presence that can dwarf any opponent, while at the same time creating an environment where only they thrive, regardless of how much pressure the event, venue, situation seems to convey.
For the rest of us mere humans, specially for us that stem from athletic backgrounds and have our own goals, the challenge is to learn from these champions, giving ourselves the absolute best chance to achieve those goals, reaching our own small share of glory.