The Golden Rules - 10 steps to world class excellence in your life and in your work - Bob Bowman

Foreword - Michael Pheps

Over the course of four Games, we won 22 medals, including 18 gold medals; both are Olympic records.

he told me this would be our plan: He’d help me set my goals, he’d help me put a plan in place to get me toward meeting those goals, and then he’d help me stay focused on my target even when everything didn’t go according to plan.
I can’t assume to know your goal, but I do know this: You’ve come to the right place. Because if you are someone with a dream, and a desire to excel, then Bob Bowman’s Method will work for you. Trust me.

I had always dreamt of making the Olympics and being a gold medalist and setting a world record. I just needed a map to get me there.

to push through a difficult today to set myself up for a better tomorrow. As he points out in The Golden Rules, excellence is the product of everyday effort.

He’s developed a formula for helping people go from one level to the next, and through his Method they learn more about who they actually are.


I knew that that kind of pressure was part of the formula for success: To achieve, and to achieve with distinction, sometimes you need to push harder than you had ever planned.

“Let me be clear, Michael. Unless you’re doing it for the right reasons, and those reasons have to be that you’re doing it only for yourself, then you should not do this.”

I was once again in the business of working with someone who knew how to dream big and also knew what it took to make such a dream real.


To be honest, the Method uses a simple formula. Together with an athlete or one of my employees, I break things down, then look to build them up. We set plans to follow by the day, the week, the month, and the year, along with desired outcomes.
But most of all we focus on a target, and we never let that target out of our sight.

It’s the story of staying focused—something we all need to do to succeed.

Think about it. In the decades during which swimming records have been kept, decades that featured such stars as Johnny Weissmuller and Mark Spitz, no man had ever swum 200 meters of butterfly faster than this fifteen-year-old. How come? Because he took a plan and worked it.
I believe that’s the power of the Method: everyday pursuit of excellence to achieve long-term greatness.

We practiced twice a day, at 7 A.M. before school and again for three hours after classes ended, in a pool where the only thing to focus on was the black lane line running its length. Swimming isn’t like baseball or golf, where you’re out in the sunlight and checking out the views across the field and getting a nice tan. No, with swimming you’re wet, underwater, and using lots and lots of raw muscle power. And any improvement you make comes in milliseconds, not minutes.

We were not chasing medals; medals were just the tangible rewards. We were chasing excellence, and we achieved it often, and, in the process, gained even more: an appreciation for each other that would sustain itself long after his swimming career ended.


the Method does not work overnight; it requires sustained effort.

it also challenges you every day, pushing you to improve on something, to set intermediate goals on the way to the big kahuna, and, most of all, to not settle.
“Whatever you do, avoid complacency. If you’re already number one, set the bar higher, every day.”

Achieving excellence every day sounds impossible. In fact, it’s incredibly hard, mostly because of all the other stuff that gets in the way. Michael would be the first to agree with you, and here’s proof: After the acclaim he received at the 2008 Beijing Games—remember, he won eight gold medals, the most ever by one person at an Olympics—he suffered a letdown; he needed to find something that would excite him, to recharge interest in a sport he’d been a part of since the age of five.

The best coaches, the best bosses, the best parents, the best leaders are the ones who show their people not just how to get better but how to motivate themselves to get better.

Part of the Method—a very important part—is teaching people to deal with the inevitable challenges that come along during their daily lives.


Yes, he had goals to achieve, he told me, and he promised to work his tail off. But he also said that he wanted to enjoy the process as much as possible. I looked at him and smiled. “There’s nothing wrong with that,” I said.
Achieving excellence should not be drudgery. It should excite you; darn, you’re going after something you want—savor every moment. As you’ll see, the Method wants the process to be as satisfying as the reward is lasting.

It’s part of my personal mission: to help people realize that the best moments in our lives are built around achieving everyday, and long-lasting, excellence.