Excerpts from Chapters One, Four, and Five...
The Miracle in Lake
They call it “The Miracle in Lake
Placid.” The date was February 22, 1980 – George Washington’s
Birthday. The story of David and Goliath was about to repeat itself.
The young, scrawny, inexperienced
United States Hockey team was about to face the mighty Soviet Team
at the Lake Placid Olympic Games. No one thought the Americans had a
chance to win. They were just a hodgepodge squad made up of the top
U.S. college players. The Americans had been playing together for
only six months, so they had not even had a chance to ‘gel;’ to get
to know each other and become a real team.
The Soviet team was the best in
the world. They were like a fine tuned machine. Some of the Soviet
players had been playing together for 15 years! On any given play,
they could confidently pass the puck to the open space, knowing that
their teammate would be there to receive it. Six months earlier the
Soviets had beaten the National Hockey League all star team;
arguably the strongest pro team in the U.S.! Therefore, everyone
expected the Soviets to steamroll the young American team.
Everyone, that is, except Herb
Brooks, the U.S. Coach. Brooks believed in Team U.S.A. when no one
else did. He told his players, “Realistically, we can beat the
Russians about one out of ten times. We just have to make sure that
this is the time. Our only chance is to attack the Russians, and
play to win. Everyone else plays, not to lose. Our only chance is to
attack, attack, attack!”
Brooks instilled his belief into
his players. The young Americans attacked like they had never
attacked before. They played with
confidence and boldness; they played to win. The players
trusted Brooks and just kept shooting the puck; shot after shot
after shot. The Soviets, not used to being attacked, were caught off
guard. Somehow, the Americans pulled out one of the biggest upsets
in Olympic history.
They beat the Russians 4-3. It
really was a “Miracle in Lake Placid.”
The crowd knew they had just
experienced a once in a lifetime event,
and they didn’t want to leave the arena. After the game, the
U.S. fans walked up and down Main Street Lake Placid. Almost on cue,
snowflakes began to fall and for hours everyone walked and sang “The
Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful’” and “God Bless
I was seventeen years old when
I witnessed the Miracle in Lake Placid. The hockey game reminded me of a
dream I’d had ever since the third grade; a dream I’d buried because I
didn’t believe in myself; an improbable dream; an impossible dream; the
dream of becoming an Olympian. At the end of the famous hockey game,
when sports announcer Al Michaels exclaimed, “Do you believe in
miracles?” I silently nodded my head
and with fire in my eyes, said “Yes, I believe!”
Flash forward four years: it’s 1984.
Now I was walking down Main Street Lake Placid looking for the
U.S. Olympic Training Center, where I was about
to change my life forever by taking up
the sport of luge with hopes of competing in the Calgary Winter Olympics
four years later.
In 1984, I was a twenty-one year old
soccer player; a bench warmer in my college team. Common logic would
have dictated that I was much too old to start a new sport, but I was
filled with a fire rekindled by witnessing The Miracle four years
earlier in Lake Placid.
This is the true story about how an
ordinary person accomplished extraordinary things by simply believing; a
story that takes the excuses away; a story that will inspire you to
start believing in the possibility that you can make your dreams
a reality too. Because, four years and a few broken bones later,
against all odds, I was marching in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics
where I would be competing against the best in the world in the men’s
Coach and I in Konigsee, Germany
Never Ever Quit!
In the last twenty years I’ve taken
thousands of luge runs. I’ve wanted to quit after every single one! Why?
Because for me it is so, so… intense. So… extreme. So… terrifying at
times. Having gotten started so late in the
sport, the luge has never felt natural to me. I’ve never developed a
‘feel’ for it. It has never felt like a recreational sport to me; I’m
too much on the edge to enjoy it. I’d much rather be playing soccer,
basketball, or squash.
But after talking to Coach, I’m
thinking, “I know exactly what I’m going to do next run. I’m
pointing my toes, my head’s going back, I’m steering hahda, hahda, hahda
on curve 6, I’m going to relax, and lookout, I’ll be faster than ever
It only takes talking to Coach for 30
seconds to get me back on the sled. In those thirty seconds, Coach would
get my focus off of my obstacles and on to my objective – the Olympics.
Luge was just the vehicle: the Olympics was the destination. Many times
the road to your dreams is a rough one. When it is, you need all the
help and encouragement you can get. If it had not been for the
walkie-talkie – which allowed me to connect with Coach, I never would
have made it to the Olympics. Taking advantage of the walkie-talkie kept
me from quitting. It’s a good thing it always had a fresh set of
I’ve got news for you. You will have
bad days. You will have bad weeks. You will have bad months. Once in a
while you’ll even have a bad year. I have. And there will be
times when nothing you do seems to work
out; times when you will be so discouraged you will want to quit.
How about you? What do you do when
the going gets tough? When life hits you with storms? Do you try to
figure it out for yourself? Do you start feeling sorry for yourself and
go out and have a pity party? Do you start blaming circumstances instead
of taking responsibility? Do you get frustrated, then discouraged to the
point where you quit?
Winners focus on the goal, not on the obstacles.
The next time you’re in the middle of
one of life’s storms, you’re discouraged, and you’re starting to doubt
yourself, don’t go out and try to figure it out for yourself. The worst
time to make a decision is when things are not going your way.
If you do that, you’ll be basing your
decision entirely on emotion - not on intellect. If you make a decision
when you’re down, you’re bound to make a bad decision. That’s when
you’re the closest to quitting.
When things are not going your way,
pick up the walkie-talkie. Talk to your husband, your wife, your best
friend, your coach, your mentor or your boss. Talk to someone who cares
for you; someone who will get you back on the sled; someone who will get
you back on track; someone who won’t let you quit, because if you quit,
you’ll regret it all your life. I promise you.
Hope Accomplishes the Impossible
I share my story to give you hope; to
help you see that you were designed for greatness; to make you
understand that you must believe in yourself.
You see, if you believe something is
possible, and have hope, then you will not quit. Hope sees the
invisible. Hope accomplishes the impossible. Napoleon said that a
leader’s most important job is to give hope to his troops – to show them
that success is possible; Coach constantly reminds me that there is
hope. If you have hope you will take action. And once you take action
you’re on the path to success. As soon as you lose hope you quit.
When there’s hope in the future, there’s power in
People ask me
how I keep my hope up. They ask me why I’m willing to train so hard for
so long for the Olympics – especially knowing that the probability of
medaling is so, so slim. When asked that, I feel just like mountain
climbers must feel when they are asked, “Why do you climb mountains?”
When someone asks you that, you don’t even want to bother answering,
because they just don’t understand. They don’t get it. And so you end up
saying something profound like, “Because it’s there.”
Why do it? To fulfill an urge, a powerful inner calling to take
a journey that will show us what we are made of. Climbing the mountain
or making the attempt for the Olympics is a challenge that allows us
test ourselves so we can know ourselves better.
Why work so hard? Because doing the work buys us an
opportunity, a chance, however small, to medal. Doing the roadwork, the
pushups, the sit-ups and the insanely boring weightlifting, makes us
stronger both physically and mentally. The hours and hours of sled work
before every race (we spend hours polishing our steel runners before
every race to remove even microscopic nicks that could slow us down the
mountain), make us stronger mentally as well. With every stroke of fine
sandpaper on the steels, we are making the sled faster. With every
stroke we know our chances to medal are better. Why work so hard?
Because there is a possibility that I will medal. It’s not
probable, but it’s possible. Because in life, as long as you don’t quit
you still have a chance, you still have hope.
excuses and start believing in yourself, because you are bigger
than your circumstances and because you were created to
accomplish great things. You were.
When you read my story, you will see that
if you want something bad enough and you’re willing to go for it, dreams
do come true.
Whether you want to be a better mom
or dad, a better wife or husband, a better employee, a better boss, a
better salesperson… whether your dream is to travel the world, or move to a beautiful home in the mountains
or by the beach, no matter what your dream is, all it takes to succeed
is guts and vision; the vision to know what you want, and the guts to go
for it and to never quit.
takes the excuses away because although I was not a great athlete, my
Olympic dream still became a reality three times! The only reason my
dream was realized is because I consistently and persistently followed
some universal success principles. Principles I learned while growing
up; while training for the Olympics; and from the Olympic Games
themselves. Principles you can follow to win too.
Now, through my story, I’ll share these principles with you.
(to learn the rest
of the story, and the timeless principles of success, you'll have to
order the book!)
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