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Success Secrets of a Three-Time Olympian



What would your life be like if failure was not an option? Would

you like to perform at your peak more often? What would you do

if you knew you could not fail?


Four years after making a decision to begin training for the

Olympics, I realized my dream. I competed in the 1988 Calgary

Winter Olympics in the luge. I went on to compete in the 1992

Albertville Olympics and I just competed in the 2002 Salt Lake

City Olympics at the age of 39.


How does someone who did not even take up the sport of luge

until he was 21 become a Three-Time Olympian? As I tell

thousands of people in my speeches, Iím not a big shot. Iím just

a little shot that keeps on shooting. Iím proof that ordinary

people can aspire to achieve extraordinary things if they will

just follow a few simple steps.



Step 1: Choose a goal


What changes would you like to make in your life that excite you

just by thinking about them? What would you love to do? Where do

you want to be 10 years from now? What is your dream?


Ever since I was in the third grade I wanted to be an Olympic

Athlete. I respected the Olympians because they were an example

of what I believed in - they are willing to commit to a goal,

willing to risk adversity in the pursuit of it, willing to fail

and at the same time keep trying until they succeeded. But it

was not until I was in college and saw Scott Hamilton compete in

the Sarajevo games that I actually made the decision to train

for the Olympics.


Just thinking about your goal is not enough. If you want to

reach your goal, you need to make it real - write it down! Donít

worry how you will make your dream come true at first. Magic

happens when you put your goals down on paper. Writing it down

is the first step in turning a dream you might achieve into a

goal you will achieve.


In 1960, Harvard Business School did a study of their graduates

20 years after they had graduated. They found the top 3%

moneymakers made as much money as the other 97% put together.

The only difference between the two groups was the top 3% had

always written and regularly read their goals. As a result,

everything they did on a day-to-day basis was focused on

reaching their goals.


When Tiger Woods was a young boy, he wrote down on a 3x5 card

that he intended to break all of Jack Nicklausí records. Tiger

read his card every night. Jack Nicklaus agrees that Tiger was on

track to make it happen.


Write your goals down on a 3x5 card. Write them in the present

tense along with a completion date. On the other side of your

card write at least three reasons why you will do it. The more

reasons the more you increase your belief.


Read your card first thing in the morning EVERY DAY to stay

focused on the objective. Then read your card EVERY NIGHT before

turning out the lights so your subconscious mind can work all

night on ways to make it happen.


Step 2: See yourself succeeding at your goal.


Several times a day close your eyes and for a couple of minutes

vividly imagine what itís going to feel like when you achieve

your goal. Really get into it. Feel it as if it were really

happening Ė right now! Whatís it going to look like? Whatís it

going sound like? Whatís it going to feel like when you finally

make your dream come true?


Get excited! Your subconscious does not know the difference

between imagining it and it really happening. By doing this, you

become passionate about your desire, your belief becomes

unshakeable and you become unstoppable.


I constantly imagined what it was going to be like when I walked

into the Olympic Stadium at the Opening Ceremonies. I imagined

it in great detail. I could see the crowds waving at me. I could

see the flags and the balloons. I could hear the roar of the

crowd, the fireworks, the Olympic Hymn. I could feel the cold

wind blowing snow onto my cheeks. I could feel the tears of joy

streaming down my face. I could feel the goose bumps running up

my back and over my shoulders. I thought about it all the time,

while jogging, while lifting weights, even in the shower. It was

my dream - but it became my goal! And when I finally entered the

Olympic arena, it was just the same -only 100 times better.


Seeing yourself succeeding is an important step because

imagining yourself succeeding will keep you from quitting when

the going gets tough.



Step 3: Choose a quality that will help you reach your goal.


Have you ever looked at someone and wished you could be like

them? Everyone has at one time or another. The good news is that

if you notice a quality in someone else, you have some of that

quality in yourself. You just need to develop it further. "It

takes one to know one". Any quality you admire in someone else

is a quality you have Ė you just need to practice it!


So step number three in reaching your goal is to choose the main

quality you think you will need to reach your goal. Is it

Boldness? Creativity? Enthusiasm? Patience? Leadership?


In my case it was Perseverance. To get good at the luge, I knew

I was going to have to endure many crashes and injuries and

simply refuse to give up. So I made a decision to become

perseverant. To never quit. Someone has said, "The main

difference between a success and a failure is that the success

tried one more time." I decided to persevere in trying one more





Step 4: Create a new habit that will help you achieve your goal.



Good habits usually donít just happen. You need to develop a

specific plan for creating a new habit. Itís simply a matter of

choosing an action that helps develop your quality, deciding

when to practice that habit, knowing that you are going to have

to repeat it many times and then give yourself a reminder.


Since perseverance was the most important quality I needed to

have to reach my goal, I needed to find ways to develop my

perseverance. I had to get good at "not quitting". So I decided

to become an expert on perseverance. I read books about people

who had faced great challenges and refused to give up. I got

inspired that if they could Ė I could!


I made a decision that no matter how bad a crash I had, I would

get back on the sled. I had a picture of a luge athlete riding a

sled. I used that picture to remind me to get back on my sled.


My action step, my habit, was going to be getting back on the

sled, after every crash, no matter what. I practiced getting on

my sled more than most. I did it when I didnít want to. I did it

when it hurt. This was the habit I was going to develop.


Sometimes, after a painful crash, Iíd have to work at it. I

would have to walk up and down the track for a long time telling

reminding myself things like "Iím a winner. Iím going to the

Olympics. I never quit. Iím getting back on the sled. When the

going gets tough, the tough get going. No matter how bad it

gets, Iím going to make it if I donít quit! I never give up!" I

thought of that picture of the Olympian on a luge sled.

Eventually, I'd get to the point where I could walk up to the

coach and say "Coach, Iím ready to get back on the sled."


And it worked! On the road to the Olympics, many athletes much

faster than me, much more talented than me, chose to quit along

the way. How do you think they felt when they watched the

Olympics on TV? The price of getting your dream is big but the

pain of regret is hundreds of times bigger.


Create a habit, something you do every day, to develop that

quality you need to reach your goal.


You can do it. No matter what your dream is, you can make it

happen if you follow these four simple steps: 1) Choose a goal,

2) see yourself succeeding, 3) choose a quality, and 4) create a

habit to develop your quality. Commit to these four steps.


The difference between people is there are those who are

interested and there are those who are committed. A key to

success in life is going from being just interested to being

fully committed. Once you are committed you will produce

results. At the point of commitment, you mentally "burn all the

bridges" and you do whatever it takes to make it happen. THATíS

when you become unstoppable!


Commit to these four steps and you too will make your dreams

come true!



Ruben Gonzalez is the author of the critically acclaimed book,

ďThe Courage to Succeed.Ē His experiences as a three-time

Olympian, businessman, and professional keynote speaker give him

a unique perspective on how to conquer the corporate struggles

of today. For his free 10-Part Success eCourse, visit or contact him at