Posts tagged inspiration

My Olympic Breakthrough, Preparation = Courage

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Jogging in place and waiting quietly to enter the Olympic stadium, the heavy door suddenly opened and two sweaty, male athletes strode into the holding room.  One was obviously ecstatic from his Olympic win.  The other young man was completely devastated.  As suddenly as their entrance, my confidence vanished and I felt a streak of inner terror run up my spine.

Thoughts from the past began streaming through my mind like flashing red neon lights.  “Who are you to think you’re good enough to do this!”  “What makes you think you are strong enough, fast enough!”  “You fool!”  “You’re not good enough, and you never will be!”  Panic-stricken, I bent forward on the pretense of straightening my shin guards…all the while, trying to draw deeper breaths and find some sense of composure.  “Dana,” I said to myself. “What are you doing!”  “Get a grip!”  Yet as the doors opened again, and I straightened up to move forward with our small group, a sinking feeling dropped into my stomach like an iron cannon ball.

My coach stepped through the doorway carrying our beautiful American flag.  As I automatically stepped after him, I gazed upon our countries’ flag, flowing proudly at his side, and my heart sank.  My recently found courage had deserted me.  I felt as helpless as an abandoned child.

Yet as we entered the stadium, my heart quickened at the cheers from the crowd, and my eyes sought out our USA section of the stands.  And there was my husband, so proud…waving, shouting encouragement and holding a banner with my name in big bold letters, “Dana Hee and NBC!”

All of the long hard hours of training, the blood, sweat and tears, the travel, the obstacles of my long journey flashed through my mind.  Despite everything, I had persevered.  I had triumphed.  I was here at the Olympic Games.  I was representing my entire country!  I had the speed, the strength, the timing and the endurance.  I had trained like a maniac.  I had done everything possible to be prepared for this exact moment.  And that is when I realized, that I WAS good enough!  Straightening my shoulders and holding my head high, I waved to the crowd…to my husband, and took that final step into the competition ring. 

The knowledge of my preparation gave me the strength of courage just when I needed it most.  The rest is history.  Gold Medal, USA.

 

cc:  danahee May 2014

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Dana Hee on Leadership and Success

Dana Hee being interviewed about Success and Leadership by NAVALLO, a site that features interviews with the worlds most successful people

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Here are the questions and Dana’s response

1. How do you define success?
Happiness in each and every moment that is good, as well as tolerance and acceptance of those bad things that you have no control over.

2. What is the key to success?
For me, being “present” or “in the moment” as much as possible. Also, persistent education about the world around me, combined with open mindedness that I may not always be right.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
No. For the first 23 years of my life I felt like a complete failure, and I had very little self confidence or self-esteem. I was so afraid of failure that I was too afraid to accept a challenge, too afraid to take a risk, and too afraid to even try.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The knowledge that the thrill of victory is worth the possible agony of defeat. I know, because the first 23 years I felt like a failure for being too afraid to even try. Fortunately, I learned that there are consequences for our actions, and especially our in-actions. Sure, there is often a price to pay for victory, but the cost of not rising to the challenges in life are far greater. Victory is here, and then gone, yet the pride and satisfaction to have the courage to go for what you want? That lasts a lifetime!

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
To be humble in my greatness, to be accepting of my weaknesses, to be happy with this life I have been given, and to be proud of even the smallest step with courage.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love riding horses, living a simple farm life with my animals, and I love any opportunity to interact with others in the interest of helping to elevate the human spirit and show others just how much is truly possible.

7. What makes a great leader?
Passion, compassion, and interaction along with the ability to help others build their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Innovation is key, yet do not forget to always be growing your area of knowledge and expertise to stay ahead of the curve. Additionally, global education and interaction is critical, regardless of whether you interact outside your country or not.

Interview from http://www.novallo.net   NAVALLO, a site that features interviews with the worlds most successful people  http://www.navallo.net/dana-hee

Success and Leadership

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‘The Power of the Mind’ A True Story Of Dana On The Streets

THE POWER OF THE MIND…FREEZING – BEACH STORY

A real-life excerpt by Dana Hee

Heading back to my little shelter three miles from the grocery store, I tore the wrapping from the Hostess Twinkies and wolfed them down, licking the last of the sticky frosting from my fingertips.  Wiping my fingers on my jeans, I pulled the light windbreaker tighter around my lean torso, trying to get more warmth against the cold frost that covered the shadowy trees and grass of the perfectly manicured suburban lawns in the darkness of the night.  The sky was crystal clear, my breath filled the air with thin white smoke and each icy inhalation sent a chill deep into my lungs.

As I quickened my pace, I shivered uncontrollably against the cold wind as it picked up gusto.  The fall leaves rustled across the sidewalk and dropped from the almost barren tree limbs.  Fascinated with their frenetic journey as they brushed past my feet and slammed themselves against the sides of the houses and fence posts, I tried to lose myself in the mysteriousness of their dark journey.  Like me…they were like lost souls hurrying here…then there…hopeless, afraid, with no place to really go.

My jaw chattered like a Halloween skeleton and every muscle in my body tensed unbearably against the constant heavy trembling until it felt like I might snap in two.  I would’ve broken into a jog-trot to try and help my body warm up…but I was exhausted from lack of sleep, lack of nutrients, and the ravages of extreme emotional distress.  So as I forced myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other to close the distance to my little shelter, I tried to focus on something that might help me fight the coldness creeping into my limbs like a demon trying to take possession of my body.  Only, my mind was almost as numb as my body.

Shaking my hair free of my eyes, I looked upwards into the sky…hoping to see any kind of cloud cover.  None!  Looking upwards again, I saw the distant glowing of stars and I thought of how wonderful it would be if only it was one of those hot, August days on the beach in Santa Cruz with my girlfriend, Marylyn.  Losing myself in that thought…I recalled the last time we went there.  That day when we skipped out of school at lunch time…

Heck…it must’ve been over a 100 degrees out, and her ravaged, little VW bug almost overheated on the steep hill up the mountain as we headed out of the stifling heat of the valley and upwards into the balmy heat of the pines…and down towards the often cooling breeze of the ocean winds.  Only that day….there were no cooling breezes.  Windows down…no air condition, and the heat from the engine block filling the tiny space inside…the sweat dampened our hair began to drip down my torso as we fought the stop and go traffic to the parking lot, and then creeped round and round looking for one of the rare openings.  At last!

We found tiny opening and tumbled gratefully out of the unbearable heat of the car and began unloading our ice chest and chairs.  “Thank God for sandals!”  I thought to myself, as we picked up our supplies and trudged through the parking lot while the heat waves shimmered upwards from the burning tarmac.  Reaching the crowded boardwalk, we maneuvered through the suffocating throngs of people until we found an opening onto the long hot stretch of sand.  “Wow!”  “Not even a whisper of a wind!” Marylyn whined as the sweat now poured down both of our faces.

Navigating the sea of roasting bodies and damp beach towels…we finally found a space and set out the chairs and towels.  I plopped down onto the already hot towel, as Marylyn dropped into a chair, reached into the ice chest and handed me a dripping wet, frosted, ice cold beer.  Popping off the lid, I rolled the smooth coolness of the bottle against my forehead before taking a long refreshing swig.  “Ahhh….”  “Much better!”  We both said at the same time, and laughed at that cool, odd connection we always had with our line of thought.

Snapping back into the present…I realized I had almost reached the old orchard where the abandoned newspaper recycling bin awaited me with it’s protection from the wind and the subtle warmth of its half filled mattress of stacks of old un-used newspapers.  As I passed the last of the perfect little suburban houses with their perfect, laughing families watching TV and eating their perfect dinners…I looked with envy into the warmth of their houses…their soft lights glowing from un-curtained windows.

That’s when it hit me…that, I wasn’t cold any longer!  My body no longer shook.  My muscles had almost completely relaxed and my jaw was no longer clenched and chattering.  The astounding realization that my thoughts about the hot beach trip had triggered this unnatural warmth…hit me like a ton of bricks.  And I smiled to myself as I climbed through the small opening in my precious little shelter.

That was just my first experience of many, about the amazing power that we can create with just our thoughts!

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‘When POWER is a hindrance and not a help!

I have sometimes found that my ‘exuberance’ of life is sometimes mistaken as ‘ego,’ ‘Hollywood,’ or ‘falseness.’ What a shame. When the reality is that of a child of hopelessness finally finding the joy in living.

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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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"Don’t try." "Just Do!" An Olympic Gold Medal Athlete’s method of discovery in learning to meet adversity with empowerment!


“Training for 24th Olympiad”

As I began training and competing for the Olympics, I had one, 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!

For the remainder of those days before the Olympics, I would use what I had learned in these two powerful lessons on overcoming the limitations of the mind, so that I could have that the possibility to create amazing results!

And just before entering that competition ring at the Seoul, Korea Olympics, I realized I had the answer to the second question of, “How do you ‘do,’ when you don’t believe that you can do?” And so, therefore, I WON that gold medal!

Just ask me! 🙂

Believe me, one moment in time can change your life forever. Whatever you have to do to achieve, “Don’t try!” “Just DO!”

cc danahee 2004

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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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