Jackie Gingrich Cushman

I was reminded today, while having lunch with a friend, that there is one thing that everyone shares - time. While some of us have more money than time and some have more time than money, we all have the same amount of time - 24 hours per day. It is up to each of us to determine how to spend our time. Will we make our time worthwhile or simply while away the hours?

Her point was not that every minute had to be fun or enjoyable – just worth our time.

Two very different people have become very successful, in very different areas, by making the most of the time they have. At first glance, they might appear to have few commonalities: Neil Diamond and Built to Swim,” provides background for Phelps’ career. He began swimming at age 7, following his two older sisters, and began practicing with elite swimmers just four years later. Sokolove’s article notes that while studies were hard for Phelps when he was young that, “the water was his therapy.”

Often noted as appearing more at home in the water than on land - he was created to swim, according to his Coach Bob Bowman, and swim he does - up to five hours a day.

Eddie Reese, head coach for the USA's 1992, 2004 and 2008 men’s Olympic swim teams, said in 2004 that Phelps was not only the most talented swimmer he had seen, but “also the hardest-working. It's a rare phenomenon. You never see it."

According to Sokolove, Bowman passed along his philosophy to the swimmer: “There is no substitute for being in the water. Not running or weight lifting, and certainly not resting. Each day out of the water is a setback.”

Phelps understands that, to reach his goals (which he has posted next to his alarm clock so he will see them every day), he has to make every day worth his while. He, like Bowman, views days out of the water as lost time

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.