Posts tagged obstacles

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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"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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Imagine yourself walking on a very high tight-wire with your packed suitcase in one hand, and a martini in the other. A Stuntwoman’s perspective.


“FACING FEAR WITH FEAR!”

an excerpt from Dana’s life as a Stuntwoman in Hollywood…

“I can’t believe I’m about to do this!” This thought flashes through my brain as I lean forward to place tension on the thin cable attached to the jerk vest hidden beneath my baggy clothing. I slow my breathing down. The tension mounts around me, and the acrid stench of the torches burns into my throat. I can almost feel the simulated, nighttime darkness envelope me in its shroud.

You see, I am a stunt double for an actress; and I’m about to be shot with a flamethrower device and knocked backwards through the air, and down into a gully, as several bombs explode. I see everyone scurrying around me, and I feel like the calm in the center of a storm. The special effects guy double checks the fire squib he has placed on my stomach. My ratchet man is talking with me about my starting mark and my arm placement. The hair lady makes a final adjustment to my hair, as the bomb ‘squad,’ adjusts the propane bombs and debris cones that are on both sides to the front of me.

My boss asks if I am ready. I give a nod and a thumbs up sign. All of a sudden everybody scatters and disappears into the darkness. All is quiet. I keep the tension on the line and close my eyes as I hear the effects team say, “The bombs are going hot!” From my cocoon of darkness I hear the shout on the megaphone, “Cameras Rolling!” “Speed!” “And on three. One….two….THREE!” Simultaneously I feel the blast of heat, and I am jerked backwards and up.

My eyes open and I see smoke, then darkness. I feel like I am swimming in the air. I fly backwards, 10ft…. 20ft… Hmmm, I seem to be traveling further than I did in the rehearsals. I should be free falling backward to the pads by now! Then I drop. And just as the thought dawns on me that I’m going to miss the pads, I feel a mighty “THWACK” to my head, and all goes black.

Ahhh….the life of a Hollywood stuntwoman! Ok, call me crazy, but I’m perfectly happy to be flying through the air, jumping through burning windows and slamming myself into walls. Well…maybe I’m a little happier when there is no pain or headache involved, but still, I’m definitely hooked on this wild roller coaster of a career!

Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Why in the world would anyone choose such a hazardous career?” Well, have you ever wanted something so badly that you didn’t even try to accomplish it, because you were afraid you would find you couldn’t do it? I call it a fear of failure.

That was the story of my life; that is, until I learned to defeat my fears by facing up to the challenges of my mind. I came from a background of sexual abuse, abandonment, and the ravages created by suicidal, and alcoholic parents and relatives.

I had no self-confidence or self-esteem. What I did have, was a bad habit of thinking, “I can’t,” along with a petrifying fear of disappointment, anger, hurt, and humiliation. As a result, I would typically run from any challenge of the mind, body, or soul. I was my own worst enemy when it came to succeeding with something, and I was sick of it!

So when that first call came for me to double the villainess on the film Under Cover Blues down in Lafayette, Louisiana. I jumped at the chance. When the fear of those first few stunts started to get in the way, I pushed them ruthlessly aside and did what I had to do.

Afterwards, when I realized that I had completed the stunt successfully – even though my brain had been saying I couldn’t – I was enveloped in a euphoric, “walking on clouds” feeling of accomplishment.

At last, I had discovered a good battleground where I could focus on conquering my fears, and I was determined to win! So off I went to Hollywood.

Leaving behind my nine to five job in accounting, the Friday night parties, and Monday night football on the couch with my man, life, I jumped into my new career, and learned to face my fears on a daily basis.

As my experience and skills expanded, the jobs kept coming….Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, Demolition Man, Lethal Weapon 4, Charlie’s Angels, Swordfish, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Independence Day, plus an ongoing list of television shows like Star Trek Voyager, The Pretender, VIP, and the X-Files.

Never would I have dreamed of being able to do the stunts I did with helicopters, jeep chases, jet ski-boat transfers, stair falls, saddle falls, jumps from buildings-through glass-over fences, hydraulic ratchets into walls – the ground- into other people. I would have never dared to be hit by a car wearing nothing but a sundress and sandals (Bella Mafia).

As one film led to another, I was swept up into a whirlwind of movie stars, travel, money, and extraordinary adventure. I spent weeks working with actors like Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman, and Mel Gibson. I hung out on the set with George Clooney, Sylvester Stallone, Charlie Sheen and Gwynneth Paltrow.

The productions flew me first class around the world to exotic locations to film. I galloped a horse in the sunset along the ancient cliffs and temples of Petra, Jordan (same local as Raiders of the Lost Ark). I fought in a hurricane in Wales, and then floated in a rickety boat down a mystical river in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, Thailand (Mortal Kombat Annihilation).

There were side trips for shopping in London, museums in Paris, lounging on exotic beaches. And now, after a brief sojourn in Rome working with Cameron Diaz on Gangs of New York, I am on contract with a great new TV series called Alias. Although the glamour of this business can be fun, it can also be overwhelming.

To keep my sanity, I try to balance my perspective of what is important, and what is real. (Imagine yourself walking on a very high tight-wire with your packed suitcase in one hand, and a martini in the other, and you’ll get an idea of how difficult this can be.)

Beneath the glitz and the glamour, I have found the real counter-balance in this rocky career is the underlying magnet of satisfaction and self-accomplishment.

After a lifetime of dealing with issues from my extremely difficult childhood, I welcome the challenges of this career. They have helped me balance and conquer those old feelings of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and my fear of failure. (Not that I would recommend all people suffering from childhood trauma jump from buildings or launch themselves 20 feet through the air by stepping on a seriously dangerous mechanical device called an air ram)!

And now, after ten years, thousands of stunts, hundreds of movies, over 2,520 days of pain (excluding the five hospital trips and numerous doctor visits for burns, stitches, pulls, breaks, and concussions), I can honestly say that I still enjoy the challenges of my work.

Sure there are times when I long for that nine to five, football night, bruise-free life. But when I’m sixty feet up on a huge 360 degree rotating shipping crane, about to start a big fight on a contraption consisting of a forklift, a motorcycle, and a car sandwiched together (Barbwire), I realize that, once again, I am conquering that debilitating fear I felt growing up
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You see I know that the only thing worse than failing is to let fear keep you from succeeding at what you want to do.

Hey, call me crazy if you want, but now, instead of running from a challenge, when I’m asked to jump, I say, “how high?”

copyright dana hee August 2001

http://www.GreatThingsArePossible.com

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