As the Olympics begin to wrap-up and I take a Yoda-moment to reflect on the dedication and drive required to, not only be an Olympic athlete but to win gold in such prodigious company, my thoughts gravitate to an interview I watched with Michael Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman.
Bowman revealed how during training, he would create unexpected challenges for Michael to navigate, including stepping on the Olympic athlete’s goggles before a swim so that the eyewear would fill with water and Michael would have to accommodate the new circumstances. In 2008, Phelps encountered this exact scenario in the 200-meter butterfly, but because he had prepared for it, he knew exactly how many strokes he needed to touch the wall and was able to swim without disruption to win the gold. If you look up the definition of sang-froid in Wikipedia, it links to this exact event. Okay, not really, but it should.
This ability to practice and execute, no matter what the circumstances, is the key to excellence, the difference between “nailing the landing” — or not.
As a writer, I can cite every distraction in the book, from noise to lighting to the “comfiness” of a chair, to keep me from getting the pages written. But these are just excuses, and weak ones at that. As Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” What he was really saying to Luke was, “I don’t want to hear your frickin’ excuses!”
There’s a Buddhist saying: If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained. Champions are made, not in spite of the distractions, but because of them.
NASA has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry. The technologies demonstrated by the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, competitors may end up in general aviation aircraft, spawning new jobs and new industries for the 21st century.
The first place prize of $1.35 million was awarded to team Pipistrel-USA.com of State College, Pa. The second place prize of $120,000 went to team eGenius, of Ramona, Calif.
“NASA congratulates Pipistrel-USA.com for proving that ultra-efficient aviation is within our grasp,” said Joe Parrish, NASA’s acting chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Today we’ve shown that electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice.”
The winning aircraft had to fly 200 miles in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or the equivalent in electricity. The first and second place teams, which were both electric-powered, achieved twice the fuel efficiency requirement of the competition, meaning they flew 200 miles using just over a half-gallon of fuel equivalent per passenger.
“Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction,” said Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team Pipistrel-USA.com. “Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation.”
Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald presents the first authorized portrait of the icon in an attempt to reveal the man behind the myth. Featuring interviews with family members and close associates, Marley is a cinematic elegy paying tribute to the musician’s philosophical convictions and social idealism.
Macdonald chronicles Marley’s life from an impoverished start in a Jamaican shack through his rise to stardom, subsequent political interventions at the triumphant One Love Peace Concert in 1978, conversion to Rastafarianism and tragic denouement in a snowy Bavarian clinic seeking treatment for the melanoma which was to kill him in 1981 at the young age of 36.
Shot predominantly in the verdant Jamaican hills and set to the soundtrack of much-loved Marley classics, Macdonald’s documentary is imbued with a romance befitting the enduring global appeal and overwhelming cultural value of the reggae colossus.