Michael Phelps on Imagination

7 gold medal for Michael Phelps
7 gold medal for Michael Phelps, courtesy LA Times

Last night; Friday night, there was an interview on NBC between Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz(wiki) discussing what it takes to win 7 gold medals.

There was a lot of back and forth between the two but what really stuck with me was the key . . the real key, to Michael’s success . . . it was imagination.

He used the word several times, he didn’t say visualization, on determination, or positive thinking. Not out-working everyone else, out eating everyone else, training techniques, etc.

Nope, none of the above, just good ‘ole imagination.

That’s powerful stuff, and a lesson that all of us can take from in our daily lives, and our work lives. The imagination to see ourselves in a positive light. To imagine that outcome of our relationships or projects, or designs to be the absolute best.

I always thought to be a good designer you needed several things.

  • The ability to look at a site, understand the cultural needs.
  • Visualize the end project and explain that vision to your clients. Visualize all you want but without a way to bring the client along in the process a project could fail.
  • Being able to put your experience to use in a positive way.
  • Use creative thinking to come up with unique. powerful, and effective solutions.
  • The ability to LISTEN, to me this is very key to the process.
  • I am now going to add to this; imagination. Imagine the end result. Imagine the clients reaction to this result. Imagine the look a lot of years down the road. Imagine getting those tough, challenging, exciting projects.


This is a powerful idea and for me a very exciting one. I had not been one to use this word(concept) in the larger context before, and I have been missing out.

I can now imagine what it takes to get to those more challenging projects. Imagine using all my skills, knowledge, listening ability to greater depths to acheive better results.

So I say thank you to Michael Phelps(another write-up) for sledge-hammering me with this concept.

Just imagine the possibilities.

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. i am a writer. imagination has been my best friend for a lifetime. please help me locate copyrights if they exist for the picture in your site i think of as the tree ‘spirit’. you don’t need a lot of imagination to know which picture i mean. thank you for taking the time to help me locate the source of this picture. cle’

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