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Innovation and Visualization – Winning the Olympic Gold

562670_10151175355696995_1055361792_nCopy of GoldMedalRetouched

Dana’s shares her story about training and competing  for the 1988 Olympic Games!

Back when I was first training and competing in Taekwondo, I had discovered although I was stronger and faster than most of my competitors, I didn’t have the endurance.  And what good was it that I would win the first and second round in our full-contact fighting sport of Taekwondo, yet then lose in the third.  The truth of the matter is that I didn’t even have the mindset to persevere.  Once things got tough…my mind would overrule my body, and I would just quit!  And I knew that if I wanted to be an Olympic contender, I needed to change this!  So I decided to go train in upstate New York, with a famous coach, known for producing competitors with amazing stamina.  His athletes had that ‘indomitable spirit’ that I was lacking. 

During one of the first training sessions, we were doing a repetitious kicking drill which was designed to increase stamina.  Everyone had a partner holding a kicking paddle that we kicked as many times and as fast as we could.  At some point, when my endurance was failing, he came over and took the paddle from my partner and held it for me.  Each time I started to tire and slow down, he yelled at me to continue.  About the third time this happened, I snapped, and yelled back, “I’m TRYING!”  Well, he lowered the kicking pad, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Try…not good enough!”  “Everyone ‘try,’ not everyone ‘champion.’”  “Don’t ‘try!’”  “Just DO!”  And he raised the kicking paddle for me to continue with the drill.

The thing is…how do you ‘just DO,’ when you don’t know that you can DO?  How do you ‘do,’ when you don’t believe that you can do?”   Well, I learned the amazingly important answer to the first half of that puzzling question in another training session with that coach!

I learned this lesson during a long distance run.  One of the biggest elements to this coach’s training program was running. That was something I had been doing as little of as possible. I had discovered back in high school, that long distant running would make my heart start ‘racing’ 90 thousand miles and hour.  And then the racing heart would trigger an asthmatic reaction that would close off my lungs. But since I was there in New York to train and learn, and I was determined to improve, I went with the program as best as I could.

One of the runs he’d have us do was an extremely difficult one up and through a cemetery. It seemed impossible for me to do this run successfully, and on my last two efforts, I had been forced to stop and walk up the steepest hill. On this third attempt, despite my determination, I found myself laboring as usual as we began to climb the dreaded hill. About a quarter of the way up, with my breathing coming hard and fast, my heart started racing. A few beats later, the asthmatic reaction set in, and my desperate lungs began closing off further. Panic stricken, I came wheezing to a stop, bending over, trying desperately to get some air into my starved lungs. My coach, who’d been staying alongside me to encourage me, came up to me – I thought to help reassure me. Not!

To my surprise, he came up behind me, placed his hand on my back and started pushing me unceremoniously up the hill! Oh the indignity of it. He completely ignored the fact that I couldn’t even breathe, and that I was close to passing out or getting violently sick. “How insensitive!” “How unbelievable!” As I stumbled forward from the pressure of his hand, I became angry and started moving forward on my own. As I put one foot in front of the other, muttering angrily to myself, trying to pull away, he kept pace, with his hand resting on my back as a reminder that he was not going to let me stop. Fuming with anger and indignation, it was with surprise that I discovered I had reached the top of the hill, and that I hadn’t passed out. Although my breathing was still labored and wheezing, I discovered that, if I could just keep putting one foot in front of the other…I could keep going!

That revelation sounded off in my head like a trumpet from heaven. As my coach pulled ahead and let me continue on my own down the hill that thought pounded in my brain with each forward footstep. I realized that I had been thinking, “I can’t make it,” “I can’t do this.” “I’m going to pass out!” Yet, once I had taken my mind off of those negative thoughts, and focused on something else…I had discovered that, “Hey,”  “I could do it!”  “I could keep going.”  From that time on… every time I began to think, “I can’t,” and want to come screeching to a halt… I would force myself to keep taking just one more step…and I would replace my negative thoughts with positive ones!

Throughout my Olympic training I used what I had learned with that coach, as much as possible.  In theory, it was easy to replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations.  I just substituted “I can’t,” with “I can.”  “I won’t,” with “I will!”  What made this difficult is that I found it much easier to slip backwards into what I already knew – those negative thoughts – than to convince myself of something that I couldn’t actually ‘picture’ in my mind.  It was really hard to stay positive, when one half of my brain was saying, “I can,” while the other half was saying, “What makes you think that!?”   And I knew that if I wanted to be an Olympic contender…I needed to get both of those halves working together as a whole!  I desperately needed to solve the second half of that question of how do you ‘just do,’ when you don’t truly ‘believe’ that you can do…before I entered that competition ring at the Olympics!

Our United States Taekwondo team arrived in Seoul, Korea two weeks before the Games, to do the final, most important training before our competition was to begin.  Unfortunately, I had sustained a back injury at the Olympic Team trials a month and a half beforehand.  And although I had tried all kinds of modern medicine, sports medicine, and holistic remedies, the injury had gotten progressively worse.  All of the doctors agreed, that the only thing that would help, was rest.  But, there was no way I could do that, and have a chance of winning!  By the time we arrived in Seoul, the pain was excruciating.

During our third practice in Seoul, we were doing a kicking drill where each of our teammates held a kicking pad at different heights, and one by one we would run the gauntlet of pads, kicking and screaming like banshees.  When it was my turn, I started out kicking ferociously.  “Hey…this was the Olympics…I was going to do this!”  I was doing fine, until I came to the very last high kick.  As my foot reached for that pad, a lightening bolt of pain shot through me and dropped me to my knees in tears and agony.  As my coach and teammates turned aside, I gingerly picked myself up, and limped off to the side.  It was obvious to all of us, that my Olympic dream was over before it even began!  I was devastated!

That night, I agonized over this dilemma.  This was the Olympics!  I couldn’t just give up!  I have sacrificed so much to be here!  Yet, what could I do?  If I didn’t train these two weeks, I knew that, even if I could compete I would feel unprepared…and I knew that ‘mental’ negativity would interfere with my determination.  Later that night, after hours of torturous twisting and turning in bed, I came up with a plan of action…or in-action as it turned out.  I would practice by visualizing the things that I needed to work on!

So that’s what I did.  For the remaining days before our competition, while everyone else practiced physically, I practiced mentally.  I would find a quiet place, sit, meditate and visualize my attacks, and my counters. I saw myself executing everything with perfect precision and timing.  I saw myself winning match after match!

As the morning of my competition dawned with my back rested enough to compete, I felt it in my spirit that I was ready for competition.  I felt good!  I felt confident!  Then…as I began warming up…that old fear of failure started creeping in again.  Who did I think I was?  What made me think that I was good enough to do this?  As we were called to enter the competition area, I frantically searched my brain for the answer to that question,

Suddenly realized that I had lots of reasons to think that I was good enough!  I had practiced physically, and I had practiced mentally!  I had the strength, the speed, the training and the endurance.  And that’s when it hit me, that I had the answer to the second part of that question of, “How do you just do, when you don’t believe you can do?”  You build your confidence and self-esteem through preparation!  And I WAS prepared.  I had done everything possible to be prepared for this exact moment!  I WAS good enough!  So I told myself, “Be not afraid,” and I took that final step into the competition ring!

When my first match was halfway over, I knew that although my body was not 100%, my positive mindset made up for it. As I faced my toughest opponent (Chinese Taipei) in the semi-finals, I knew in my heart, that I was good enough to win.  When my hand was raised after my final match to let everyone know I’d won the Olympic Gold, I smiled to myself, because I realized that I was, indeed, a winner.  I had faced my fears, and overcome the limitations of my mind!

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MY OLYMPIC STORY [A young girls’ struggle to overcome the odds against her and make her long-standing dream come true].


The Olympic Story of Dana Hee

Have you ever been so afraid of failure, that you couldn’t even think of succeeding, much less even try?
That’s how I lived my life for the first 22 years. From the age of three, I was passed back and forth between an orphanage and raging alcoholic, suicidal, low income, abusive family. From there I eventually ended up on the streets, in a commune, a halfway house, a government shelter, and finally a foster home at age sixteen.

Never trusting the illusions of love and safety, I left the foster home right out of high school. I then struggled for the next six years to make it on my own. On the surface, I presented my ‘survivalist’ game face that everything was just fine. But the overwhelming impact of the years of broken promises, emotional turmoil, and pain had taken their tole. The devastating feelings of sadness and despair from the past, blocked out any sense of hope I might have had. Time and again, I found myself running from any chance, challenge or dream because I did not believe in myself.

The thought, that I wasn’t good enough, had been instilled in me since childhood. It was as if the two words, “I can’t,” had been programmed into my mind. By the age of 25, I had become my own worst enemy of success. That is, until I made a decision that would change my life forever.

The decision that I would make did not happen overnight. It came from years of self-loathing, after running away from yet another of my dreams, and then some.

You see, in high school, I had discovered that I had a real talent and opportunity to be successful in the track and field event of high jump. With a scholarship offer and a sponsorship with a top Stanford University coach, I began to dream of Olympic Gold. I just knew that if I could win an Olympic Gold Medal, then I would really ‘BE’ someone.

Then I would be recognized, loved, and wanted. But just as the going got tough, I let my old fear of failure get the best of me. I couldn’t bear the thought of what would happen if I tried my best, and discovered that I wasn’t good enough. It was just like that old saying, that the higher up the ladder you climb, the further you have to fall. And I had become really afraid of hitting that ground. So I gave up. I just turned and walked away from my dream.

Years later, I was still kicking myself for my cowardice, when another opportunity popped up with my newly found talent in Taekwondo. Placing second in my first National competition in 1986, I discovered that this sport was to be introduced in the upcoming ‘88’ Olympics in Seoul, Korea. The revelation, that here was my second chance to make my Olympic dream come true, hit me square between the eyes. At that moment, it became startling clear to me that I could not just walk away again.
I’d been given a second chance, and by God, I’d make the most of it! This time I swore to myself, that no matter what, I would take this dream and make it come true. And if I failed…well at least I would know that it wasn’t because I didn’t give it 100% effort. I would know that, for once in my life, I did not let my fears get the best of me!

So with a glimpse of hope and an ounce of courage, I took one step forward and started climbing that ladder to Olympic Gold with my dream from the past.

I analyzed where I was, versus where I wanted to be. I listed the things I needed to do, then I figured out how to accomplish them. And step-by-step, I inched my way upward. Right off, I discovered that I had the raw talent, though I’d still need a lot more work. It also became clear that my biggest hurdle was my lack of self-confidence.

Champions have to believe in themselves, yet from my experiences and disappointments in life, I’d developed the bad habit of saying, “I can’t.” As a result, I had very little self-esteem! It was something that seemed impossible to change, and yet I just had to find a way!

In the next two and a half years, I trained like crazy. First for about 3 hours a day, then 6, and finally right before the Olympics, I was training 8 hours a day! I traveled and competed in every tournament I could find that would be beneficial. I researched and experimented with physical, mental, and dietary programs. I solicited funds from local businesses, help from top coaches, and ideas from top competitors.

Yet despite all my efforts, the real reason for my ultimate success was really because of a life changing experience I had while training up-state New York with a famous coach.

I had determined that although I was faster and stronger than many competitors, I did not have the stamina. And without this endurance, I would be unable to win. What good was it that I could win the first round or two, yet then lose in the third? Though I had trained like a maniac trying to increase my stamina, I discovered that I didn’t even have the mindset to persevere. Once I got tired, that was it. My mind overruled my body, and I would quit.

So I went to train with a rival’s coach who was known for producing competitors with amazing stamina and determination. His athletes had that ‘indomitable spirit’ that I was lacking. Right from the beginning, I ran into trouble. For, one of the biggest elements to his training program was running. That was something I had been doing as little of as possible. I had discovered back in high school, that long distant running would produce in me, a ‘racing’ heart that would then trigger an asthmatic reaction that would close off my lungs. But since I was there to train and learn, and I was determined to improve, I went with the program as best as I could.

One of the runs he’d have us do was an extremely difficult one up and through a cemetery. It seemed impossible for me to do this run successfully, and on my last two efforts, I had been forced to stop and walk up the steepest hill.

On this third attempt, despite my determination, I found myself laboring as usual as we began to climb the dreaded hill. About a quarter of the way up, with my breathing coming hard and fast, my heart started racing. A few beats later, the asthmatic reaction set in, and my desperate lungs began closing off further. Panic stricken, I came wheezing to a stop, bending over, trying desperately to get some air into my starved lungs. My coach, who’d been staying alongside me to encourage me, came up to me – I thought to help reassure me. Not!

To my surprise, he came up behind me, placed his hand on my back and started pushing me unceremoniously up the hill! Oh the indignity of it. He completely ignored the fact that I couldn’t even breathe, and that I was close to passing out or getting violently sick. “How insensitive!” “How unbelievable!”

As I stumbled forward from the pressure of his hand, I became angry and started moving forward on my own. As I put one foot in front of the other, muttering angrily to myself, trying to pull away, he kept pace, with his hand resting on my back as a reminder that he was not going to let me stop. Fuming with anger and indignation, it was with surprise that I discovered I had reached the top of the hill, and that I hadn’t passed out.

Although my breathing was still labored and wheezing, I discovered that, I could keep going! That revelation sounded off in my head like a trumpet from heaven. As my coach pulled ahead and let me continue on my own down the hill, that thought pounded in my brain with each forward footstep.

I realized that I had been thinking, “I can’t make it,” “I can’t do this.” “I’m going to pass out!” Yet, once I had taken my mind off of that negative thinking, and focused on something else…I had discovered that, “Hey,” “I could do it!” “I could keep running.” “I didn’t pass out!” From that time on… everytime I began to think, “I can’t,” I learned to replace that thinking with, “I can!” Those two little words changed my life forever.

Throughout the remaining months of training, I used those two words as much as possible. And though it was never easy, and my mindset did not change overnight, I now knew in my heart, that amazing things were possible if only I believed in myself, and could just continue taking that one step forward!

This knowledge became the powerful key to my success. So much so, that when I got knocked out with a spinning kick in the Olympic Finals competition, I got back up and won the match. When, in Seoul, two weeks before the Olympic competition and a back injury got the best of me and forced me to stop training, I started practicing by ‘visualizing’ my fight moves. When it became obvious that my Olympic coach had dismissed me as a potential medal candidate, I let my disappointment, anger and frustration fuel my determination to prove him wrong.

As the morning of my competition dawned with my back rested, I felt it in my spirit that I was ready for competition.


Then…just before I entered the ring for competition, that old fear of failure started creeping back into my mind. “Who did I think I was?” “I would never be good enough!”

But, just as those thoughts started to take hold, I began replacing them with the truth. “I was ready!” “And, I was good enough!” And I took one step forward, and entered the ring. When my first match was halfway over, I knew that although my body was not 100%, my positive mindset made up for it. As I faced my toughest opponent (Chinese Taipei) in the semi-finals, I knew in my heart, that I was good enough to win. I knew that I had the strength, the speed, the training, and the determination. And most important of all, I truly believed in myself.

When my hand was raised after my final match to let everyone know I’d won the Olympic Gold, I smiled to myself, because I finally realized that I was, indeed, a winner. I had conquered my fears!

Standing on the Olympic podium watching the American flag flutter gracefully upwards to the music of our beautiful National Anthem, my heart swelled with pride and joy. As the cameras clicked their last photos, and I turned and walked past the cheering crowds, my mind reeled with the wonder of what I’d accomplished. Who would have thought that a scrawny, timid, lonely little girl with no self esteem or self confidence, would grow up and win the prestigious honor of being an Olympic Gold Medalist for her country?

Who would have thought that it would be possible to make a dream come true with a vow of commitment and faith in the two little words, “I can.”

As I gave one last parting wave to the crowd, and stepped out of the Olympic limelight, I realized that this was only the beginning. Somehow I knew, that this one moment in time would last a lifetime. Because, I now knew, that if I could just keep taking that one step forward, it was possible to make my dreams come true!

Cc Dana Hee, 1992

ABOUT DANA

Dana is an Olympic Gold Medalist, Top Motivational Speaker, 2X Hall Of Fame Martial Artist, Award-Winning Stuntwoman (over 17 years stunt doubling the leading ladies in Block-Buster Films such as the Batman Movies, The Terminator films, Charlies Angels, Peacemaker, Alias and MUCH more).  More importantly, she is a Life Survivalist whom endeavors to Inspire, Enlighten, and Elevate the hearts and minds of people around the world.

http://www.GreatThingsArePossible.com
http://www.greatthingsarepossible.com/

TO READ MORE OF DANA’S INSPIRATIONAL STORIES…CLICK HERE

 

Thank you for viewing my stories!  Love and light to all!  Dana Hee

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Fighting Fear With Courage! A Stuntwoman’s perspective on performing death defying stunts!


Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself where you started out in life…and where you are now. I was looking through some old stories that I wrote for magazines and such…and came across one from back when I first started out in Hollywood. My words from years ago help to re-generate my soul from time to time. Perhaps you can find your own cool stories to remember!

A Brave New World
“I still recall that day on the set of the Natassja Kinski film, “Bella Mafia,” as if it were yesterday.
It was the day I did my first car hit in my career as a Hollywood Stuntwoman. I remember standing on the paved road in my yellow sundress and strap sandals with the sun warming my back, and glinting off the metallic silver bumper of the car rapidly closing in on me.

It approached much faster than what I had envisioned it would. There was a moment of extreme panic and fear, and I felt like bolting from its path. Then, the fear was replaced by the sudden rush of adrenaline that surged like a locomotive through my body. Steeling myself to focus on what had to happen next, I bent my knees in anticipation of the slight thrust upwards I would make on contact.

As the bumper caught me and lifted me into the air, the ‘whack’ of my body slamming against the hood resonated in my ears for a moment before being swallowed by an intense silence, as I was spit up and over the top of the car. There was a surprising and disorienting sense of peace as I spun through the air, catching glimpses of blue, then brown…before landing with a resounding thud on the side of the road.”
————————–

You know, you’ve really have to wonder about the Mario Andretti’s of this world! And, likewise, all of the skydiving, bull riding, bungee jumping extreme-adrenaline freaks!! Why do they do what they do? Why would anyone purposely put themselves in harms way? I wonder if it’s for the same reason I’ve been doing just that for the last sixteen years.

From competing in full-contact fighting in the Olympic Games, to performing dangerous and debilitating stunts for Hollywood films, I’ve evan had moments where I’ve thought that I must be insane.

What compels me to place myself in front of an oncoming car, or allow someone to jerk me thirty feet through the air and slam me into the nose of an airplane?

Hmmm….perhaps it’s because I’ve wanted to forget about the painful scars of my childhood…the years of life in an orphanage, with alcoholic, suicidal, abusive family members, on the streets, in halfway houses, a government shelter, and a foster home.

Maybe it’s been an effort to strip myself of my negative self-image, and cloak myself in the resulting praise and admiration of my peers. What I do know, without a doubt, is that I have been driven by the need to face my fears head on.

I guess if I had come into the world feet first, I wouldn’t have felt so compelled to challenge my fate, as I would’ve been able to hit the ground running.

As it was, my rocky start in life did nothing to ensure that I would be able to hold my head high in society. Indeed, I was handicapped with a huge lack of self-esteem and confidence.

Luckily for me though, I was too hardheaded to accept defeat with humility and grace. So after years of struggling against the force of the whirlpool trying to pull me down, I forced my head up out of the water, and struck out swimming.

You know, it’s amazing what one can accomplish with a spark of hope and a lot of determination.

When I finally took hold of my life I was actually able to make my dreams of Olympics, Hollywood, and life come true.

I guess it’s a tribute to the strength and courage of mankind that someone like myself was able to rise from the ashes, and hover in the clouds. Then again, maybe it has nothing to do with strength or courage.

Personally, I feel my successes in life have much more to do with fear…fear that I’m not good enough, fear of pain and humiliation, fear of the unknown, and most of all, fear of failure.

For me, it was fortunate that I finally recognized that, ‘that’ was what was holding me back in life. It is equally fortunate that I felt a burning need to change that. The fact that I chose to face and conquer my fears is commendable. The fact that I chose to face fear with more fear, is nuts! Or is it?

From stair falls, to car hits, that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I get when I face fear, and pull off a death-defying stunt makes me feel good about myself.

It reinforces the fact that it is possible to put my fears aside, if only for a time, and accomplish what I set out to do.

It’s a very empowering feeling! And it’s a recipe for success I’ve used many times now.

I wonder…. perhaps that is what drives the Mario Andretti’s of this world, this fear factor, and the need to face it…perhaps not.

All I know, is that when the paramedics are rushing me to the hospital after yet another near-death encounter, and are shaking their heads saying, “Why in the world would anyone do such crazy work!” I smile to myself, because I know the answer to that question.

Call me crazy if you want, but I have learned to fight fear, with fear. Instead of cowing away from the challenges and trials of life, I meet them head on, or upside down, or in front of a car. I now know that the only thing worse than failure is being too afraid to even try. Now, when someone asks me to jump, I say, “how high?”

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Power of The Mind IV – If You Can Believe, You CAN Achieve!


Dana Hee, on building up your Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

“If you can believe, you CAN achieve!” Many of us Do know this to be true. The only ‘catch’ is this, if you do not have the ‘experience’ of having achieved, how can you truly believe that you can?

How many times have you started out with a goal, only to realize that, there are so many potential problems and obstacles that may keep you from succeeding? How many times have you thought to yourself that you can’t succeed, because you don’t have the training or education that may be needed? How many times, have you given up and turned away from your goal because you can’t predict the future?

Many of us have done this at one point in time or another! Yet…what if you COULD predict the future? What if you could multiply your odds of winning? Wouldn’t you do just about anything to make that happen?

Well, there is no magic wand. The secret to believing and achieving is as simple as ‘due diligence!’ Putting in the time, energy and effort that your goal requires will teach you just how capable you truly are of succeeding!

I have learned through trial and error, that there are two key elements in building up your belief so that you can truly succeed. Perseverance and Preparation. With my successes in Olympics, in the Hollywood Film business, and in life, I have discovered that these two elements are the building blocks of self-confidence and self-esteem. By being diligent in applying yourself 100% to these two factors, you will find that your efforts will give you that ‘deep-seated’ confidence that will catapult you to the top of your field.

Back when I set myself on the lofty goal of going to the Olympics and winning a gold medal in the full-contact fighting sport of Taekwondo, I had a seemingly insurmountable hurdle.

‘Champions’ need to believe in themselves. The difference between a great athlete and a champion is all in that ‘I can’ attitude. Yet I had grown up thinking I wasn’t good enough, and never would be! Somehow I just had to find a way to change my thinking!

As I began training and competing in the sport of Taekwondo, I quickly discovered although I was stronger and faster than many of my competitors, I didn’t have the endurance. And what good was it that I would win the first and second round, yet then lose in the third. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t even have the mindset to persevere. Once things got tough…my mind would overrule my body, and I would just quit! I knew that if I wanted to be an Olympic contender, I needed to change this! So I decided to go train in upstate New York, with a famous coach, known for producing competitors with amazing stamina. His athletes had that ‘indomitable spirit’ that I was lacking.

During one of the first training sessions, we were doing a repetitious kicking drill which was designed to increase stamina. Everyone had a partner holding a kicking paddle that we kicked as many times and as fast as we could. At some point, when my endurance was failing, he came over and took the paddle from my partner and held it for me. Each time I started to tire and slow down, he yelled at me to continue. About the third time this happened, I snapped, and yelled back, “I’m TRYING!” Well, he lowered the kicking pad, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Try…not good enough!” “Everyone ‘try,’ but not everyone ‘champion.’” “Don’t ‘try!’” “Just DO!” And he raised the kicking paddle for me to continue with the drill.

The thing is…how do you ‘just DO,’ when you don’t know that you can DO? How do you ‘do,’ when you don’t believe that you can do?” When you’re mind is saying, “Uh-uh…I don’t think so!” Well, I learned the amazingly important answer to the first half of that puzzling question in another training session with that coach!

One of the biggest elements to this coach’s training program was running. That was something I had been doing as little of as possible. I had discovered back in high school, that long distant running would make my heart start ‘racing’ 90 thousand miles an hour. And then the racing heart would trigger an asthmatic reaction that would close off my lungs. But since I was there in New York to train and learn, and I was determined to improve, I went with the program as best as I could.

One of the runs he’d have us do was an extremely difficult one up and through a cemetery. It seemed impossible for me to do this run successfully, and on my last two efforts, I had been forced to stop and walk up the steepest hill. On this third attempt, despite my determination, I found myself laboring as usual as we began to climb the dreaded hill. About a quarter of the way up, with my breathing coming hard and fast, my heart started racing. A few beats later, the asthmatic reaction set in, and my desperate lungs began closing off further. Panic stricken, I came wheezing to a stop, bending over, trying desperately to get some air into my starved lungs. My coach, who’d been staying alongside me to encourage me, came up to me – I thought to help reassure me. Not!

To my surprise, he came up behind me, placed his hand on my back and started pushing me unceremoniously up the hill! Oh the indignity of it. He completely ignored the fact that I couldn’t even breathe, and that I was close to passing out or getting violently sick. “How insensitive!” “How unbelievable!” As I stumbled forward from the pressure of his hand, I became angry and started moving forward on my own. As I put one foot in front of the other, muttering angrily to myself, trying to pull away, he kept pace, with his hand resting on my back as a reminder that he was not going to let me stop. Fuming with anger and indignation, it was with surprise that I discovered I had reached the top of the hill, and that I hadn’t passed out.

Although my breathing was still labored and wheezing, I discovered that, if I could just keep putting one foot in front of the other…I could keep going! That revelation sounded off in my head like a trumpet from heaven. As my coach pulled ahead and let me continue on my own down the hill, that thought pounded in my brain with each forward footstep. I realized that I had been thinking, “I can’t make it,” “I can’t do this.” “I’m going to pass out!” Yet, once I had taken my mind off of those negative thoughts, and focused on something else…I had discovered that, “Hey,” “I could do it!” “I could keep going.”

From that time on… every time I began to think, “I can’t,” and want to come screeching to a halt… I would force myself to keep taking just one more step…and I would replace my negative thoughts with positive ones!

How do you just ‘do’ when you don’t know you can do? You force yourself to focus on POSITIVE thoughts, and you keep moving forward! Perseverance will show you that you can do much, much more than you ever believed possible!

Well, throughout my Olympic training I used what I had learned with that coach, as much as possible. And in theory, it was easy to replace my negative thoughts with positive affirmations. I just substituted “I can’t,” with “I can.” “I won’t,” with “I will!” What made this difficult was that I found it much easier to slip backwards into what I already knew – those negative thoughts – than to convince myself of something that I couldn’t actually ‘picture’ in my mind. It was really hard to stay positive, when one half of my brain was saying, “I can!” while the other half was saying, “What makes you think that!?”

I knew that if I wanted to be an Olympic contender…I needed to get both of those halves working together as a whole! I desperately needed to solve the second half of that question of how do you ‘just do,’ when you don’t truly ‘believe’ that you can do…before I entered that competition ring at the Olympics?

Our United States Taekwondo team arrived in Seoul, Korea two weeks before the Games, to do the final, most important training before our competition was to begin. Unfortunately, I had sustained a back injury at the Olympic Team trials a month and a half beforehand.

Although I had tried all kinds of modern medicine, sports medicine, and holistic remedies, the injury had gotten progressively worse. All of the doctors agreed, that the only thing that would help, was rest. But, there was no way I could do that, and have a chance of winning! By the time we arrived in Seoul, the pain was excruciating.

During our third practice in Seoul, we were doing a kicking drill where each of our teammates held a kicking pad at different heights, and one by one we would run the gauntlet of pads, kicking and screaming like banshees. When it was my turn, I started out kicking ferociously.

“Hey…this was the Olympics…I was going to do this!” I was doing fine, until I came to the very last high kick. As my foot reached for that pad, a lightening bolt of pain shot through me and dropped me to my knees in tears and agony. As my coach and teammates turned aside, I gingerly picked myself up, and limped off to the side.

It was obvious to all of us, that my Olympic dream was over before it even began! I was devastated!

That night, I agonized over this dilemma. This was the Olympics! I couldn’t just give up! I have sacrificed so much to be here! Yet, what could I do? If I didn’t train these two weeks, I knew that, even if I could compete I would feel unprepared…and I knew that ‘mental’ negativity would interfere with my determination.

Later that night, after hours of torturous twisting and turning in bed, I came up with a plan of action…or in-action as it turned out. I would practice by visualizing the things that I needed to work on!

So that’s what I did. For the remaining days before our competition, while everyone else practiced physically, I practiced mentally. I would find a quiet place, sit, meditate and visualize my attacks, and my counters. I saw myself executing everything with perfect precision and timing. I saw myself winning match after match!

As the morning of my competition dawned with my back rested enough to compete, I felt it in my spirit that I was ready for competition. I felt good! I felt confident!
Then…as I began warming up…that old fear of failure started creeping in again. Who did I think I was? What made me think that I was good enough to do this?

As I frantically searched my brain for the answer to that question, I suddenly realized that I had lots of reasons to think that I was good enough! I had practiced physically, and I had practiced mentally! I had the strength, the speed, the training and the endurance.
And that’s when it hit me, that I had the answer to the second part of that question of, “How do you just do, when you don’t believe you can do?” You build your confidence and self-esteem through preparation! And I WAS prepared. I had done everything possible to be prepared for this exact moment! I WAS good enough! So I told myself, “Be not afraid,” and I took that final step into the competition ring!

The rest is history. I had that one moment in time, standing on that podium and watching our beautiful American flag rise gracefully upwards to our national anthem.

But check this out! I then created MORE ‘moments in time’ for myself, in the Film business and in life…simply by applying what I had learned with my Olympic experience to my new goals.

When I set out to become a top Stuntwoman in the film business, I knew I would have some real ‘issues,’ because I’m NOT an adrenaline junky. I like to keep my feet on the ground…not jump off of bridges! Yet, I did my homework and figured out where I was, versus where I needed to be. Then step by step, I began learning what was necessary for me to climb to the top in that field. Step by step, I inched my way forward.

When I set my goal on becoming a top motivational speaker, I knew that this was indeed a lofty goal for a woman still working on self-esteem issues. Yet, I began working on developing my strengths and compensating for my weaknesses. I do my homework in constantly researching the ‘greats,’ and working to improve the power of my communication. And although I still have a ways to go, I can’t believe the great improvements I’ve made in a short period of time!

And all along, I have had it as my goal to have my stories and experiences published in my effort to help others live happier and more productive lives. So through the years, I have continually worked on creating and improving my stories and messages. I have forced myself to learn and study from others, so that when the time comes, I will feel prepared to move forward into that realm.
Through the years, I have taken what I learned along that rocky road to the gold and applied it to everything that I do. Sure, there are times when I don’t succeed. Sure there are times that I need to figure out a new approach. Yet time and again, I have been successful with HUGE goals that I set for myself.

In fact, I remember when I first told my mother that I wanted to become a Motivational Speaker, so that I could share my stories, in the hope of helping others. Her reply was as follows, “Who do you think YOU are, that you can help ANYONE!?” “You don’t have a Ph’D!” “You don’t have a Talk Show!” “You don’t have a book published!” “What makes you think YOU are good enough to do THAT!?”

Four years later, when I was paid top dollar to do the opening three motivational kick-off presentations for about 60K people for the national FFA conference in Indiana, I remembered her words, and I just smiled to myself. I’m sure my mom thinks I just ‘got lucky.’

And every now and then, I do run across a few people out there who look at how I have accomplished so much with so little, and they say, “Oh…she just got ‘lucky!’ Personally, I don’t think that ‘luck’ is such a consistently ‘do-able’ thing. Me? I say that ‘luck,’ is when preparation meets opportunity!

So if YOU want to get lucky and create multiple successes for yourself with your goals, I would encourage you to put in the time and work with perseverance and preparation. The truth, is that, if you can believe, you can achieve! So build your confidence and courage along the road to your goal through simple ‘due diligence.’

It’s amazing what you can accomplish, even when you don’t at first truly believe that you can!

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