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August 16, 2008

What do Mark Spitz and Mike Phelps have to do with tango?

Watchdog

the mystery, the magic, the wonder, the innocence of never having done it before, those are the seeds of creativity that came into my personal story.

Last night Bob Costas from NBC interviewed Mark Spitz and Mike Phelps together.

Mike Phelps has just tied Mark Spitz's record of winning seven gold medals in a single Olympics game. Of course both men are in the same event - swimming.

I was really impressed with Mark Spitz last night. In contrast to Mike Phelps's inarticulate responses Spitz had some powerful words about Mike Phelps, about the mindset of competition at that level, and about how great Phelps's achievement is.

He told Phelps that he would come to realize that his greatness would have a tremendous impact on younger athletes, and that he had a huge responsibility to those coming after him, in what he showed them about sportsmanship and behavior and how he handled his competitions. And he said that he knew that Phelps was equal to that responsibility.

The assurance that Mark Spitz displayed in talking the greatness of Mike Phelps revealed a lot about Spitz's own inner confidence. It came across as "no self doubt whatsoever."

But then Spitz said something really interesting. He said that what kept him motivated and successful in his youthful days of swimming competition, in which he dominated the sport and broke many records, was "the mystery, the magic, the wonder, the innocence of never having done it before, those are the seeds of creativity that came into my personal story."

Doing something that you have never done before can be very scary. Having the aplomb to go forward into the challenge of the new, the unknown, that is an important quality.

That is the quality one needs in tango. Because the best dances are always the ones where you feel like you are setting out into undiscovered territory. Even if you are doing steps you have done before. If it feels like you don't know what's going to happen next, and you aren't sure if it's going to work, but you stay calm and immerse yourself in the moment - that is where the most memorable dances come from.


Posted by joegrohens at August 16, 2008 05:53 PM

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