Realizing Olympic Achievement
by Dee Dickinson
Now let me introduce you to another "lemonade stand" operator. This is Marilyn King of Oakland, California. Marilyn is a two time Olympic Champion, and the University of California's first womens' track and field coach. Her 20 year athletic career includes five national titles and a World Record, yet she points out that as a child she was an ordinary athlete, not particularly strong, fast or quick to learn. She began training as a pentathlete during high school, and when a student she felt was less skilled than she was sent to an Olympic Training Camp, she decided "If they think she can go to the Olympics, I can go to the Olympics."
She made the 1972 Pentathlete team, and placed 13th in the 1976 Olympics. At that point she determined that she would go for the gold in the next games, and decided to devote the whole of 1979 to train. In November however, she was injured in a head-on collision and suffered a serious spinal injury which left her bedridden and unable to walk. She had hit a load of lemons head-on. She says, "I decided then and there that I was not ending my career on my back and that I would be in the top three at the Olympic trials." That was the beginning of her new story.
For the next few months, unable to do the 6 to 8 hours of daily training usually required, she used mental rehearsal skills. She watched films of the world record holders in all five events projected on her ceiling. She made mental images of herself merging with the images she saw. When she was finally able to walk again, she painfully walked the course envisioning herself performing at her best.
Then the day came, and never having come out of starting blocks, with no work on approach steps, no technique work or weights training, no months of daily running, she placed second at the trials for the Moscow games.
Marilyn's experience prompted her research into imagery and found that it impacts every cell of the body. Last year some studies at the National Institute of Mental Health actually showed physiological changes in the brain as a result of mental rehearsal skills. Marilyn found that in isolation, imagery did not produce exceptional human performance--it needed the alignment of passion, vision, and action. Out of that discovery, in 1980 she created a lemonade stand called Olympian Thinking which she has used in consulting with business, education, and peace organizations for the last fifteen years.
Recognizing that many Olympians used these skills to become champions, she noted that many of them did not continue using the skills in the rest of their lives. This led to the formation of the Olympic Peace Team, sponsored by the UN, and an worldwide initiative engaging Olympic champions to teach these skills to young people to create the world we all want to live in.
Her work has been implemented by major corporations, such as IBM, Xerox, American Express, and ATT, to enhance their productivity. It's been used by school districts, ( in one area supported by the real estate companies because as the quality of schools is enhanced, so are property values.) The program has also been used to turn around teen age gang- members. And it is having a profound effect on the ways people and organizations can achieve their goals.
If you would like to try Marilyn's techniques she has produced a curriculum for parents, teachers, and children with Jo Sue Whisler and Robert J. Marzano called Dare to Imagine: An Olympian's Technology.. Look for research done by those in the field of psychoneuroimmunology. Some of it is based on this kind of work, giving people control over their immune system, their blood pressure, the insulin level in their blood, and control over pain and high stress.
To contact Marilyn King please write to:
484-149 Lake Park Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610