How to win a world championship:
1. Prepare your heart, mind and body: spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, for harmony.
2. Have strict routines and as the big day gets closer, eliminate distractions and simplify your life.
3. Prepare for every possible scenario.
4. Bring the toilet paper.*
“In my warmup I wasn’t completely decisive. “Do I have a bite of the banana, or do I roll the dice and enter this fasted state?” For most people, you can get low blood sugar. But if you do it right, you can enter this warrior-like hyper-focused state… like you’re in the jungle chasing your prey. I even peeled the banana. But it felt like the conservative approach. You have to time it right because you have 5-7 minutes with that sugar boost. Then you need another bite. I took zero. A sip of water and spat it out.” – Ryan Dodd, in warmup before winning his 4th world championship in a row, Oct. 17, 2021
It was Wednesday morning, Oct. 13, and Ryan Dodd was afraid. And sad. It was such a crazy season (ankle injury, covid cancelled so many events, wife expecting a baby any day…) and it was his last practice before leaving for the world championships. It wasn’t going well.
As the 3-time world champion (and current world record holder) in water ski jumping, Ryan had to be careful. Coming off an injury, he had only competed once all year. In a sport where the skier hits the 6′ ramp at 70mph and flies over 200′, one moment of non-presence can be very costly. But careful doesn’t win.
He wasn’t feeling present or skiing well. Ryan stopped the boat. For four minutes he sat there, defeated and down. His brain was in “hyperdrive” of what to do.
Fast forward to finals on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 17. Ryan was in 3rd place after prelims… and in first place was Dorien Llewellyn, the skier he’d been coaching all year, sharing all his secrets, how to train, how to think, even, perhaps, how to love. Ryan was teaching his opponent how to beat him.
Then finals came. Ryan won. World champion. Again.
How did he do it?
When Ryan was sitting on the boat on Wednesday, in despair, he knew something had to change. “I’m 100% sure one of those guys would have beat me if I didn’t step up to that next tier of trust and commitment,” he said. I realized I needed to trust the “team” (his subconscious mind). Stop thinking. Stop obsessing.
Ryan did a quick visualization of some small changes, then said to himself, “let go. Trust it.” Then, it happened. “In prelims I realized I hadn’t fully let go,” he said later.
There’s a certain mix of safety and aggression that’s needed in the precise amounts in water ski jumping. Too careful and you become tentative and defensive and don’t go very far. Too aggressive and you can get badly injured. That’s why being in harmony with the heart, mind and body are so crucial in extreme sports (like life).
Eight crucial things Ryan did that helped him succeed:
1. He had a clear picture in his mind on why he skis (to learn and grow in how to feel fully alive).
2. He had been journaling about his journey and how the finals was only a part of the process, not the be-all-end-all of the journey. The lead up to worlds was a very unique time, once every two years, but also a time to develop self-awareness, of how he wanted to feel and live and the type of person he wanted to become. It was also a time to confront his fears and learn how he didn’t want to feel and live.
3. Ryan prepared for every contingency, even bringing toilet paper in case he had a last minute call only to find the stall lacking. He prepared for questions he was going to get asked (can you win 4x in a row? how’s the ankle? when is your wife due?) and practiced answering them beforehand. One thing he didn’t keep doing, was double checking everything. He knew he had to trust his team/subconscious mind.
4. He prepared his heart, mind and body not only through journaling and visualizing, but also yoga, meditation and stillness.
5. He had three scenarios ready to go in his mind: perfect conditions, average conditions, and the worst conditions. None of the above were more desired than the others. Whatever conditions came were perfect for him.
6. He had strict routines throughout the day of heart, mind and body, and as the competition got closer, routines got stricter and boundaries were tighter (distractions reduced).
7. He loved his opponents. Ryan was grateful just to be there, grateful for his opponents that allowed him to do what he loved, and he even coached one of his primary opponents all year as a friend (Ryan knows that the word compete comes from the Latin to seek together. He was seeking together with his opponentto learn and grow as an athlete and skier, but mostly as a person).
8. Ryan remembered the 3 IX principles: Everything is here to teach me and help me learn and grow–it’s all working for my good. Everyone does the best they can with what they have in their heart. The problem is not the problem, the problem is the state you enter when you judge it.
What you can do for your world championship (or big event in your life):
1. Set your goals high (higher than any world championship or Olympic gold medal). Pursue self-mastery, to be your tue self, and live with absolute fullness of life.
2. Redefine success to something meaningful to you.
3. Work backwards from your dreams to today. See in your mind every day the person you want to become, the person you’re meant to become. Journal about it. Be that person today.
4. Program your heart and mind with audio, video, visualization, affirmation, and self-talk. All things are possible to those who believe.
5. Prepare for adversity. George St. Pierre, world champion mixed martial artist, would spend around 20% of his visualization seeing himself overcoming every adversity. Lululemon founder Chip Wilson says he sets goals that are achievable at around a 50% rate.* (Without enough failure, how do we know what’s possible?) To achieve anything great requires being great at embracing and learning from adversity.
6. Focus on the process–of becoming the type of person you were born to become, the one who lives fully and loves greatly. The score is for the fans, your role is to learn and grow. Your responsibility is for your heart and your actions. The rest is up to God.
7. Shift perspective from the world of results and circumstances to the unseen world of love, joy and peace, where inner strength is unlimited. (The (3rd) world of results and circumstances is only for planning and visualizing, learning and recalling good memories.)
8. Rewire painful memories. The subconscious mind (which runs our lives), is always trying to protect us, and it does this by holding on to embarrassing and painful experiences, which then become mental blocks.
9. Clarify how you want to live and feel and the type of person you want to become; then design your life around it.
10. Integrate the nine IX disciplines into your life and seek mastery over the five IX skills.
See Ryan’s world championship jump here (he’s near the end; go to 5 hours, 10 minutes in).
Let me know how you’re doing!
If you haven’t already, you might enjoy a listen to my interview with O’Brien MacMahon on his People Business podcast. O’Brien did his research and had some very insightful questions. It will help you get learn more about your heart.
Update on my life: The first ever (world premier!) Inner Excellence retreat open to the public is coming! I’ll be joining forces with former Olympic Cyclist Guy East and YWAM Homes of Hope to lead an Inner Excellence house-building retreat Dec. 27-30, 2021 in Tijuana, Mexico. Super powerful for your whole family. No experience necessary. Likely will change your life. Fly in to San Diego on the 27th and we’ll pick you up. More info to come but you can respond to this email for details. 🙂
What I’m reading
The Sound of Cherry Blossoms, by Mosko and Noden.
Compassion & Conviction, by Giboney, Wear, and Butler.
Why We’re Polarized, by Ezra Klein.
What I’m listening to
Angela Duckworth (MacArthur “genius grant winner) on the Remarkable People podcast.
The Gospel in a Polarized World, Conversing podcast. Fuller Theological Seminary.
Every Good Endeavor, by Timothy Keller. (audiobook).
What I’m watching
The Danger of a Single Story, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Ted Talk.
*Remarkable People podcast with Chip Wilson