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!
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