Five Lessons from 17-Year-Old Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin

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Missy FranklinLike much of Colorado, I’ve been watching the Olympic success of Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old swimming phenom from Regis Jesuit High School in Centennial, Colo., with great interest. In addition to the Colorado connection, two of us here at Metzger — Marie Rotter and me — have been lucky enough to work with her father at times in our careers. Dick Franklin is a great guy, so we both feel a bit of a personal connection.

Watching Missy over the last few weeks has made me realize how much we can all learn from her, 17 or not. So here are my top five Missy Lessons.

  1. Do what you love and success will follow. If you’ve watched an interview with this young lady, the one thing that shines through every time is that she’s living in the moment and loving every minute of this experience. She’s turned down millions of dollars in prize money and sponsorship contracts so she can swim as part of a college team — because being part of a team is something she loves. The lesson: find what you love and pursue it with every fiber of your being. If you do, you can’t fail.
  2. Be real. You can’t put on a false face these days. You’ll get caught eventually. Too many cameraphones, too little privacy. But watch Missy. Like Taylor Swift, she is genuinely delighted to be where she is, and it shows. The lesson: no one, no matter how good, can keep up a lie 24/7, so don’t try. Be you, and you’ll be fine.
  3. Say thank you. This kid is doing things in the water that no one else in the history of the human race has done — and let me say it again, she’s 17! But I don’t hear very much “I” from her. She thanks her parents for the opportunities, her coaches for the guidance and her teammates for support. She thanks those that helped her get there. The lesson: thank you goes a really long way. Try it. You’ll be amazed.
  4. Be gracious and humble. Any of us who have competed at any level (and only a very, very few have competed at Missy’s) know that there are hours and hours of grueling practice time, the need to miss some fun time with friends and the reality you sometimes must deny yourself some ice cream or other “bad for you” snack to stay on top of your game. That stuff? That’s all Missy, and no one else. But that’s not what she talks about. She could say, “Hey, I worked my ass off to get here. That’s what it takes.” She’d be right, and she did. The lesson: share the credit. There’s plenty to go around. 
  5. Most importantly, have a blast. A good part of the reason Missy is able to give us lessons 1-4 is because of this point. She’s having a ball, and it shines through. Sure, the naysayers can point out she’s the “Next Michael Phelps at 17,” so it’s easy to have fun. But, wow, that’s a lot of pressure (a LOT of pressure, a METRIC TON of pressure). To watch Missy dancing her way through the best “Call Me Maybe” (in my opinion) video on the Internet, the fact she’s having a ball is obvious. That’s probably worth a couple of tenths of a second in the pool. The lesson: having fun and showing it can be the difference between getting a client (or job, or…) or not.
So learn from Missy. Find your thing, be yourself, thank those who help you along the way and do it like there’s nothing else on Earth you’d rather be doing. You’ll find your own gold. I promise.

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