I learn something from every guest I speak with on Sparta Chicks Radio.
This week, one of Australia’s most talented, decorated and all-around athletes reminded me that the achievements I’m most proud of (including this podcast) have always been on the other side of immense fear and self-doubt.
Michael Milton’s comments around fear and self-doubt are profound:
“I think it’s really natural for our brains when we’re under pressure …to turn to the negative a little bit….lowering your expectations because you feel that pressure.Just like our body’s natural reaction if we sprain an ankle is to flood it with blood and heat it up, but what we really need is ice. I think in some ways you need to fight that natural reaction with the opposite…my ski racing coach…one of the things he said that hit me was “it’s the times when you think you need to back off that are the times you should really push the hardest.” And fighting that natural instinct of our brain of lowering our expectations because we’re nervous or because we’re uncertain, when I think we need, as human beings, to go the opposite way…”
Michael has a long and illustrious career - so long in fact, we only cover about half of it in this conversation.
He won 5 Paralympic Gold medals and is a 6 time Paralympian - both at the Winter Games (for skiing) and the Summer Games (for cycling).
He holds the speed skiing World Record for an athlete with a disability and in 2006 became the fastest Australian skier ever by clocking 213k/hr (that’s 132mph) - a record that still stands to this day.
He’s also battled cancer twice - at the age of 8 when he lost his leg to bone cancer and again in 2007 when he battled with oesophageal cancer.
Michael has also climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and walked the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea (twice).
He holds the Guinness World Record for the Fastest Marathon on Crutches and in 2017 turned his hand to both trail running (by completing the Ultra Trail Australia 50km race in the Blue Mountains in May) and triathlon (by finishing the Ironman 70.3 Cairns race in June).
In this conversation, we discuss:
* how children are much better able to accept or adapt to their environment than adults,
* why it’s good to compete against people you can’t beat (and what you learn from that experience),
* his experience with fear, self-doubt and the Imposter Complex,
* the advice from his ski coach that has stayed with him, and
* his experience competing in the Ultra Trail Australia 50km in the Blue Mountains.
Some of my favourite quotes (aside from the one above!):
Set goals that are realistic for you as an individual…there is no need to benchmark yourself against anybody else. Just entering them and achieving your own personal goals is what it’s really about.
I came DFL in more races than I ever won
If you keep plugging away and you keep moving forward then eventually you’ll get to the finish line.
I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
Notes and resources: