Every time my phone rings, I hear two very excited announcers shout:
“Here comes Diggins! [on the outside] Here Comes Diggins! Diggins, making the play around Sweden. [Yes yes yes] Jesse Diggins to the line… [yes] and it is Jesse Diggins [go] delivering [gooo!] a landmark moment.”
Jessie Diggins, United States Olympic cross-country skier, came from behind in the very last moments of the women’s team sprint freestyle event of the 2018 Winter Olympics to win the first ever Olympic gold medal for the United States in cross-country skiing, men or women. Read about the heart-pounding conclusion of her race here.
Every time my phone rings, I am instantly served a massive dose of inspiration and transported back to the moment above – a moment which provides some great lessons we can use RIGHT NOW to come out of this pandemic ahead! We all HAVE the strength within us and ARE capable of harnessing it! Three (3) key lessons this moment in history teaches us, which we can easily apply, are listed below.
- Keeping the End Goal(s) in Sight – With everything that is going on in our world today, it easy to lose sight of the goals we have as the problems we face seem to take center stage and be at the forefront of our minds. However, we HAVE a choice when it comes to what we focus on!
During the final lap of the race Diggins came from behind to lead the racers as they came closer and closer to entering the final segment of the course. However, on a hill, she fell back to third place again, which is where she had started the lap. In this moment, she had a choice to make. The very same choice we all have to make. While I can’t speak to the thoughts which went through her head, I do know that when we focus on what we want, i.e., our goals and desires, and in this case winning the race, we put ourselves in a physio psychological state that uplifts us. On the other hand, when we focus on the problem or obstacles in front of us, in this case falling behind to third, we put ourselves in a physio psychological state that keeps us down.
This choice is and will always be ours to make! Keeping our end goal(s) in sight, just like Diggins’ [safely presumable] desire to win a gold medal, WILL help us be motivated, take action towards it, and achieve it! Every time my phone rings, I’m reminded of my end goals!
- There’s Always More in the Tank! – When we work towards a goal, run a race, or work on a task at work, we use both our minds and bodies in unison. Every activity we do requires us to use both in varying ways, which begs the question of which one becomes our true limiter? Meaning, are we truly limited by our physical capabilities or is it our mentality that holds us back? For example, have you ever said to yourself “I can’t do this,” yet later, when in a clearer and calmer state, completed the task at hand? Was it your physical capabilities or mentality which stood in your way of initially completing the task?
Diggins’ win constantly reminds me, every time my phone rings, that even when we feel exhausted, think we can’t go on, and believe we are tapped out, there is always more in the tank to give! In these moments, we have a choice. A choice to either let what does not serve us keep us from achieving what we want, or accepting these non-serving thoughts are a natural part of who we are AND we CAN choose to embrace their opposites – knowing we have more to give – to achieve what we want. The choice is and will always be ours to dig a little deeper, tap into what IS left in the tank, and achieve what we want.
- The Support & Help from Others is Paramount! – Importantly, Diggins did not win the race on her own. The event was a two-woman relay in which both Kikkan Randall and Diggins played an important role. Randall skied the first, third, and fifth laps of the race while Diggins skied the second, fourth, and sixth laps of the race. As Randall pulled into the exchange area at the end of the fifth lap, she kept the United States duo in third place and fractions of a second behind Norway and Sweden. This set Diggins up perfectly for the final lap of the race, and ultimately to win the gold medal. A gold medal which took TWO to win.
We can often feel alone in our ventures and that others have not gone through what we are going through. However, we are NOT alone! There ARE others who have gone through what we are going through! AND, there are others who WILL support us, help us, be there with us, and elevate us to new heights to achieve what we want! Building our support system is paramount! One of the greatest and uplifting things we can experience when we don’t believe in ourselves is having someone who does believe in us! It’s OKAY to ask for help and rely on others for support! They are our rocks in our time of need and WILL help us achieve what we want! The effort from both Diggins and Randall reminds me of this every time my phone rings.
Getting our goals on to paper brings clarity, tangibility, and helps us keep them at the forefront of our minds. While this is greatly helpful, creating an ever-present reminder of them (just like my ringtone) takes it to the next level! What constant reminder can you create which unleashes your inner strength today, embodies the lessons above, and highlights your goals? The choice is always ours!
Do You Believe in Miracles?
In 1980, a team of college aged kids from rival schools came together, amidst the cold war and a declining United Stated economy, to beat a Soviet Union hockey team who had dominated the sport for twenty years and easily routed them 10 to 3 thirteen days earlier. The first period of the game saw the Americans fall behind within the first ten minutes, rebound less than five minutes later to tie the game 1-1, and fall behind again with under three minutes left in the period. As the first period came to a close, and the seconds ticked away, the Americans snuck a goal past the Soviets with literally one second left on the clock, tying the game at 2-2. In the second period, the Soviets scored the only goal, taking a 3-2 lead in the game, leaving only twenty minutes of hockey left to play. In the third period, the Americans got an opportunity to score a tying goal on a power play and did as the penalty ended. The game was now tied 3-3, and the Americans had a chance. Less than two minutes later, the Americans scored the go-ahead goal, making the score 4-3 in their favor with exactly ten minutes left in the game. For ten whole minutes, the Americans had to hold off a surging and utterly dominant Soviet team. As the final seconds of the game ticked away, Al Michaels asked “Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!” The Americans had done it! They had pulled off a Miracle and beaten a team no one expected to lose! The Americans went on to win their first Olympic hockey gold medal in twenty years by beating Finland in the final.
Beating the Soviet Union was about more than just winning a game. It was about beating a team no one thought they could beat; beating a team who had handily dominated them just two weeks prior; and beating a team which represented the cold war. Beating the Soviet Union was tied to something greater beyond each individual on the team. It was tied to the hopes and dreams of a nation to lift them out of the despair caused by the cold war and the economic downturn the country was facing. If a group of college aged kids could pull off the impossible, so could the Country. The Americans showed the world what was possible in what is now universally known as “the miracle on ice.”
This is my favorite moment in sport history because of what it showed was possible, the impact it had on our Country, and the inspiration it continues to have! As a constant reminder, to further that inspiration for me, I have two pieces of memorabilia from the 1980 U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey team hanging in my office I see every day. Three (3) key lessons this moment in history teaches us, which we can easily apply right now to come out of this pandemic ahead, are listed below.
- It Only Takes One to Ignite the Spark – A single thought, idea, person, or event can ignite a spark that grows into an unstoppable hope which DOES carry us forward to where we want to go! Exactly what the 1980 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team did! They gave our Country hope amidst the cold war and an economic downturn! The impact this single game had on our Country went far beyond the Olympics! Hope is powerful and DOES bring about the change we seek!
It only takes one! Something we see all around us right now in our Country. Now the choice becomes “What are we going to do with it?” Are we going to fan the flames and help it grow into the hope that WILL bring about the change we seek? The choice is ours! We CAN choose to embrace the sparks that ignite us and let them carry us to where we want to go! We CAN take action, that choice is ours! This moment in history truly illustrates the power in the thoughts, ideas, people, and events which create hope for us and ignite a spark for us. Finding these sparks for us WILL help us take charge, shift our mindset, and come out of this pandemic ahead.
- Our Calling: Being a Part of Something Greater – The team Coach Brooks chose to compete in the 1980 Olympics was rife with conflict from the start. The roster contained players from opposing colleges who had a history of not liking each other – a big hurdle to overcome if they were to come together as a single team! Coach Brooks knew this and created a team atmosphere which led to the players bonding together under a single identity for a single a purpose. In other words, he instilled within them a calling; a common purpose that was greater than each individual on the team and had an impact which went beyond them.
This moment in history is a great lesson on how powerful having and being a part of a calling is! And, this isn’t something that is reserved for sports teams, it is something that we ALL have! Each and everyone of us has a purpose we feel compelled to be a part of. This is our calling! Knowing what it is we are called to do inherently lifts us up, motivates us, takes us to new heights, and fuels our passion and fulfillment. Identifying our calling, recognizing and embracing it, and reminding ourselves of it each day WILL help us come out of this pandemic ahead.
- If We Believe it is Possible, it is Possible! – In Coach Brooks’ words:
“Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. One game. If we played ‘em 10 times, they might win nine. But not this game, not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with ‘em, and we shut them down because we can! Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players, every one of you. You were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done; it’s over. I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw ’em. This is your time! Now go out there and take it!”
In this speech, Coach Brooks gave his team hope! He let them know it WAS and IS possible to beat the Soviet team they were facing. When we believe something is possible, we strive for it, we work hard towards it, and we are motivated to achieve it! On the other hand, when we believe something is impossible, we don’t strive for it, we don’t work hard towards it, and we are not motivated to achieve it because, well, what’s the point, it’s not possible. We psych ourselves out ahead of time and limit our ability to achieve because of the pre-determined outcome we believe in.
A SMALL shift in our perspective HAS a major impact on what we ARE capable of and CAN do! This speech, this “miracle on ice,” shows us that it IS possible, and what we want in life is too! We can CONTROL our mindset and set ourselves up for success, work towards what we want, and ACHIEVE what we want! Something I am reminded of every time I look at this speech hanging on my office wall.
Knowing what inspires us, give us hope, and motivates us is the foundation for setting ourselves up for success, staying the course, and coming out of this pandemic ahead! However, with everything we face today, see in the media, and here from others, it is easy to get distracted. Having a visual reminder you see constantly throughout the day WILL help embody the lessons above and keep you on the path which leads to coming out of the pandemic ahead!
In 1993, Disney released a movie which slid its way into the hearts of many, inspiring us, encouraging us, and showing us anything is possible! That movie was Cool Runnings, the story of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team. It is a movie I have seen many times and can watch over and over again because of what it stands for – hope! And, right now, we all need a little hope and inspiration in our lives.
While the movie depicts the rise of fictional bobsledders and portrays a different path to the Olympics than the actual bobsled team took, it still captures the essence of their journey. A journey from which we can leverage key lessons that are applicable to helping us come out of this pandemic ahead right now! Three (3) of those lessons, from the movie, are listed below.
To Read about the actual story of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team, please click here.
- How Others Affect Us Is Up to Us! – The people in our lives, whether they are friends, family, or even acquaintances have an impact on us. They can lift us up, make us happy, and believe in us. On the other hand, they can also bring us down, make us angry, and drain us. While we cannot control the actions or beliefs of others, we CAN control they way in which we let them impact us. For the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team, they had a choice, just like we do right now. The team could let the individuals who did not believe in them and think that it was not possible for Jamaica to have a bobsled team be right, or, they could CONTROL the impact those “naysayers” had on them. As we know, they pushed on through adversity, fought through opposition, and stood up for themselves because they BELIEVED in themselves! They knew what they were fighting for, what they were striving for, and why they were on their journey! Because they did, they CHOSE the way in which the “naysayers” impacted them, just like we can do right now!
When we focus on the negativity, or as I like to call it “non-serving,” impact others have on us, it drains us! It keeps us in a state that actually releases chemicals in our body which keep us down. However, when we focus on what we want, why it is important to us, and embrace the actions we are taking towards it – what “serves” us – we release chemicals in our body that uplift us! The choice is and will ALWAYS be ours for how we let others impact us. A small shift away from others who do not serve us can have a large and great serving impact upon us.
Right now, we CAN chose who we put stock into, who we listen to, and who we let affect us versus who we let “roll off” of us. This choice IS ours and WILL have a great positive impact on our stress level, outlook, and well-being.
- Embracing Our Own Unique Identity – In the movie, we see the driver and captain of the team, Derice Bannock, imitate the Swiss team. The character emulates the Swiss because they are portrayed as the best and he wanted to have the same type of success as they did; hence, using their push start method down to the wording and timing of it. However, as the team progresses, we see the other Jamaican team members push back, wanting to embrace their own identity rather than the Swiss’. An important component of what is portrayed as a turning point for the team in the movie, and an important lesson for us too!
We often look to others for ways to help us achieve the success we seek. Something that is completely natural and okay for us to do! However, when it comes down to creating our own success, there is an important component this misses – how do we make it right for us? What this means is, how do we take what we see as the path to success and make it right and natural for us to walk? As the movie shows, embracing our own identity – who we truly are and what feels natural to us – is a big part of the answer. We CAN achieve what we want by being who we are!
Right now, we CAN embrace who we are and what feels right to us; something that can seem hard to do when others influence us, but is absolutely possible! This choice IS and ALWAYS will be ours to make! Embracing who we are and allowing it to dictate the actions we take WILL help us come out of this pandemic ahead!
- We Do Get Back Up Again! – One of the most iconic moments of Cool Runnings is the Jamaican bobsled team picking themselves up from a crash down the track and carrying their sled across the finish line. This crash did happen in real life, and the team did get up and cross the finish line. The four men in the sled could have easily stayed down, waited for medics to arrive, and step off of the track. Instead, they got back up, they chose to continue forward, and they crossed the finish line! Their choice is one we CAN make too! Each and every one of us IS capable of getting back up after being knocked down.
Today, there are seemingly and endless number of hurdles we are facing which “knock us down.” It can be easy to think that there is no way to get out from underneath them; however, there IS! We ARE capable of continually getting back up! And, the more we do so, the greater our confidence becomes, the higher our spirits become, and the more likely our success becomes. For, on the other hand, if we do not get back, we guarantee our success is not to come, our spirits will be low, and we will lose our confidence. The very important choice to get back up and continue forward IS and ALWAYS will be ours! We ARE capable of making it, just like the Jamaican bobsled team did!
Right now, choosing to get back up, step over the obstacles in our way, and continue to move forward WILL help us come out of the pandemic ahead. Doing so will make us! It will turn this time in our lives into something we look back upon and think “we made the most out of the situation we were in by setting ourselves up for success, creating what we wanted, and reaching our goals.”
Too often we jump immediately to the step of taking action towards what we want, which can lead us to not succeeding. By doing so, we skip over looking at what may stand in our way, such as, the thoughts or beliefs we have which hold us back. By taking the time to truly understand how others influence us, who we are, and that we ARE capable of getting back up and walking the path we want, we can address the hurdles which stand in our way. This reflection WILL help us create the right action to take.
Never Give Up
In 1982, just 15 feet short of the finish line, triathlete Julie Moss collapsed, following to the pavement in utter exhaustion. In her first IRONMAN triathlon, the world championship no less, she was ahead of all other female competitors; she was winning the race!!! But, just short of the finish line, she could go no further. Moss fell in front of the cameras in what would become one of the most iconic moments in all of sports as her race did not end there. She reached out with her hands and began to crawl, dragging her body until she crossed the finish line. While Moss was passed by fellow competitor Kathleen McCartney, she finished the race, came in second, and earned her college diploma. Moss was only 23 at the time and had entered the race as her senior research project, which she needed to complete to receive her degree. For her, there was more than just winning the race:
“Then that inner voice said, ‘just crawl!’ That forward movement showed me the meaning of being victorious. It wasn’t about beating someone, it was about finishing.” – Julie Moss, Ironman vet Julie Moss recounts her 1982 ‘Crawl of Fame’ in new memoir, The San Diego Union-Tribune, October 2, 2018.
The IRONMAN triathlon is a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon – a 26.2-mile run! It not only taxes the body, as we know from Moss’ story, it also taxes the mind! As an IRONMAN, I know the wide range of thoughts which can come up throughout the race, either being motivating and uplifting, or urging one to stop, give up, and not go on. When thoughts of the latter nature come up, just as in all aspects of life, we have a choice. We can let them take hold and fall short, or, we can embrace that they came up, know we ARE capable of moving past them, and MOVE past them by embracing the thoughts that do lift us up! Moss is a prime example of what IS possible and in OUR control!
To Read about Moss’ race and story, please click here.
- If the Mind is Willing, the Body Will Follow! – Our minds are incredibly powerful! Even at our lowest of lows, it can drive us to get back up and move forward; or simply crawl just a bit further to our goal. The shear determination Moss showed is truly inspirational – doing whatever it took to get across the finish line! Absolute and utter proof that if the mind is willing, the body WILL follow! As Moss said, she was ready to just continue laying on the ground until the voice in her head told her to keep going! It was her mind that won out and pushed her body forward!
There’s truth to this for more than just sport. When our mind is willing, it fosters us with healthy and encouraging thoughts AND overcomes the non-serving thoughts which keep us down. Most importantly, it drives our physical actions, e.g., our behaviors, and IS in or control! We control our minds! The way we think, what we believe, and the encouragement we give ourselves ARE up to us! Embracing this notion WILL lead us to come out of this pandemic ahead because we know it IS possible to drive the results we want through our mindset.
- Reach for Something New & Meaningful – Moss was inspired to do an IRONMAN by watching the recap of the 1981 IRONMAN world championship. Even though she had never done a triathlon or run a marathon, she made the decision to do an IRONMAN. It was going to be a new experience and an experience which would go beyond what she had previously experienced in the endurance sport world. In other words, it would be an experience that prompted her to reach for something new. Moreover, it had meaning to her. Not only would it mean a lot to finish the race, it also would mean she fulfilled all of the requirements for graduating from college.
It is a natural human trait to like new things; new clothes, new phones, and new movies to name a few. Our goals are no different! We like reaching for something that is new and allows us to grow. We also like reaching for something that has meaning and purpose for us. It feels good to achieve something that has value for us and is a benefit to us. When we combine reaching for something new with the meaning achieving it will have for us, we are inherently motivated and take action which ENSURES we reach our goals! Moreover, right now, reaching for something new that has meaning for us will focus us on maximizing this time during the pandemic AND come out of it ahead of where we were!
- There’s More Than One Way to Win! – As Moss said, there was more to her race than just coming in first, there was finishing – a victory in and of itself. A very true statement that is not always embraced today. With sayings like “If you’re not first, you’re last,” it’s hard to see past winning as the only thing that matters. However, there is more than one way to win!
Victories come in all forms and finishing an IRONMAN triathlon certainly is one! The average finishing time for men and women pro triathletes fall within the 9 and 10-hour time frames, respectively. And that’s the professionals! For non-professionals, the average finishing time can range between 12 and 16 hours, plus change. To be able to put one hand in front of the other while swimming, then one foot in front of the other while biking and running, for hours upon hours IS an accomplishment. By doing so, we prove to ourselves that we are capable! A notion and victory that gets overshadowed if we are solely focused on winning, which also overshadows the time, dedication, and sacrifice spent training for the race!
Just as in IRONMAN, solely focusing on winning in life overshadows the other victories we create for ourselves. Completing a task we set out to do is an accomplishment in and of itself. Spending time learning how to do something we could not do before is an accomplishment in and of itself. And, setting new goals for ourselves which we once thought were impossible is an accomplishment in and of itself. These accomplishments ARE wins and are what WILL let us continue to achieve other victories in life besides the “one-time” victory winning a race creates for us. Right now, we are so focused on when and how we will come out of this pandemic that we forget about all the new skills we have picked up, the new goals we have created and achieved, and the way in which we ARE stronger! Celebrating these wins WILL help us come out of the pandemic ahead as it brings to light the strides we’ve already made!
Today, we tend to focus on the problems at hand, the hurdles we face, and the obstacles which stand in our way. A line of thinking which actually keeps us in a non-serving (negative) state. On the other hand, when we focus on what we want, what we desire, and what impact achieving our goals will have, we are kept in a serving (positive) state. One way which WILL shift our focus is finding what inspires us and keeping it ever-present with us. We can put a poster or picture on the wall, carry a saying with us, or even wake up to a piece of music, saying, or poem in the morning. The choices are truly endless! No matter what we choose, injecting what inspires us on a daily basis WILL shift our focus, and it WILL help us come out of this pandemic ahead as we’ll be focused on what serves us!