The Ad That Lit My Soul on Fire

I’m reading a book called “Follow Your Passion, Find Your Power” that includes talking about the importance of embracing the thoughts that excite and inspire you, because they have power.

Here are some of those thoughts for me, contained in my response to this incredible ad:


If the agency that made this video came to pitch me on a product, I’d say: “Just take my money. Now.”

Here are the splendid details that make the ad exceptional:

  • The elegant, slow arc of Michael Phelp’s  underwater dolphin kicks, one of his most powerful strengths as a swimmer.
  • That song: “The Last Goodbye.” So gloriously fitting for the greatest Olympian of all-time making a run at his mind-blowing 5th Olympics. Including this lyric, “I have no regrets…for the past is behind.” More poignant than words can adequately describe given Phelps’ well chronicled missteps and rehab (more on that emotional tale here).
  • The imagery: the shivering ice bath. The massive plate of food. The grimace of pain working through the PT needed to recover the body during a brutal workout regime.  The repetition. The sweat. The vomit. The shaking on the pool deck in the pre-dawn hours. The repeated scenes of sleep, which the weary body craves amidst peak training. All these are things many an endurance athlete knows well, in some form.
  • The sounds: the splash and swirl the swimmer hears under water. The hand slap of the pool after finishing a set, in moments of either exaltation or anger. The scream of the coach. The silence of the lonely grind. The roar of the crowd as the moment you trained months and years for approaches.
  • That long, lonely black line down the length of the swimming lane. Because no matter how crowded the pool (or any other venue), training for this kind and level of sport becomes about you, your soul, your will, your power, your burning desire.
  • Then the close as the crowd’s roar builds: “It’s what you do in the dark, that puts you in the light.”

You want to know what lights my soul on fire?


That hero of my sport.

That glimpse of unvarnished humanity.

That rawness of the brutal grind of the elite athlete.

The window into the soul of what it takes to be the best.

People. Sport. The Human Spirit.

That’s what lights my soul on fire.

And that, that’s an exceptional video.

So exceptional that Phelps and his fiancee wept when they saw it, eliciting this response from him: “The world is going to see the real Michael Phelps, and that’s what I’m excited for.”

Excited? Me too.

I can’t wait for Rio.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s