No Limits

The Will to Succeed
by Michael Phelps and Alan Abrahamson | Free Press © 2009 · 272 pages

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in history and arguably the greatest athlete ever. This book is a quick look at 8 virtues that led to his 8 gold medals in '08. Big Ideas we explore include how to train your mind, going all in, knowing what's important now (aka W.I.N.), and not confusing "can't" vs. "won't."

If you put a limit on anything, you put a limit on how far you can go. I don’t think anything is too high... If you think about doing the unthinkable, you can. The sky is the limit... Anything is possible. I deliberately set very high goals for myself; I work very hard to get there.
Michael Phelps

“[Coach] Bob [Bowman]’s philosophy is rather simple: We do the things other people can’t or won’t, do. Bob’s expectations are simple, too. It’s like the quote he had up on the whiteboard one day at practice a few months before the Games. It comes from a business book but in sports it’s the same: ‘In business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance is reality.’

Bob is exquisitely demanding. But it is with him that I learned this essential truth: Nothing is impossible.

And this: Because nothing is impossible, you have to dream big dreams; the bigger, the better.

So many people along the way, whatever it is you aspire to do, will tell you it can’t be done. But all it takes is imagination.

You dream. You plan. You reach.

There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes.

But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits. Perseverance, determination, commitment, and courage—those things are real. The desire for redemption drives you. And the will to succeed—it’s everything. That’s why, on the pool deck in Beijing in the summer of 2008, there were sometimes no words, only screams.

Because, believe it, dreams really can come true.”

~ Michael Phelps from No Limits

Michael Phelps is an American swimmer who is the most decorated Olympic athlete in history.

He captivated the world during the 2008 Olympics when he won an unprecedented eight (!!) gold medals. I vividly remember tuning in to watch just after Alexandra and I had landed for our year in Bali. Incredibly inspiring demonstration of human potential.

In this book, Michael walks us through his “No Limits” thinking and EXTRAORDINARY hard work ethic that enabled him to create history.

It’s literally a case study in deliberate practice—highlighting his remarkable commitment to constantly improving and seeing just how much he can accomplish. If you’re into sports and biographies, I think you’ll love it. (Get the book here.)

It’s packed with great stories and Big Ideas. I’m excited to share some of favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the authors


Michael Phelps

Competition swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Alan Abrahamson

Sportswriter, bestselling author and in-demand television analyst.