Sunday, 14 February 2010

Risking It All to Achieve Your Goals and Dreams

Video: Olympic Motivational Speaker Ruben Gonzalez Part 1

Ruben Gonzalez is 47 years old and he is currently competing in his fourth Olympics. He is not a medal contender but he has already broken one record. He is the first athlete to compete in four different winter Olympics in four different decades - 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s.

And along the way he's broken numerous bones to achieve his dream of competing in the Olympics. Ruben Gonzalez's personal Olympic flame was ignited when he was just 10 years old. After watching the winter Olympics he know that that was the "adventure" he wanted to be part of.

Later, when 21 years old, he was watching the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia and caught sight of the Canadian Scott Hamilton who won gold in figure skating. He thought to himself if such a "little guy" could achieve Olympic glory then he could too.

There was just one hitch.

He wasn't a great athlete but Ruben Gonzalez didn't let that stop him. In fact, he says that what impressed him most about the Olympics was not the athleticism of the competitors but their spirit. And what Ruben Gonzalez lacked in athleticism he more than made up for in spirit.

"I wasn't a great athlete so my plan was to find a sport that was so tough, that had so many broken bones in it that there'd be a lot of quitters only I wouldn't quit. I chose the luge."

Now he had another hitch. You see, Ruben Gonzalez lived in hot, humid Texas - hardly the place to train for the winter Olympics. (And you thought it was only the Jamaican bobsleigh team that had problems!)

So he contacted Lake Placid, explained his quest and asked if they'd help him to train but when he mentioned his age he was almost instantly dismissed. He was told that to start to train for the luge at his age was "brutal" and that nine out of ten people quit.

This was exactly what Ruben Gonzalez wanted to hear.

He finally convinced the officials to let him train and compete for his native South American country, Argentina.

During the first two years of his training he was crashing four out of five times but he didn't quit. The third year his crashing percentage was one percent. In other words, he was crashing just once in every 100 runs he did. He'd cracked it! And in the fourth year he made the Olympic team.

He made his dream come true.

Lesson #1
And this is a huge lesson that you should take from Ruben Gonzalez's story. Most people are so afraid of failing that they don't even try. And yet for most people, failing doesn't mean possible bruises and broken bones. For the most part when you fail the thing that gets bruised is your ego.

He admits that in the early years he was scared to death hurtling along that icy track on his sled. He had to continually push the boundaries of his comfort zone because as he improved he got faster and so it became scarier. Thankfully, through working with a sports psychologist he has now overcome his fears and can now fully enjoy the experience. But even when he was afraid he kept going because of his Olympic dream.

Lesson #2
You have to make your dream bigger than your fears. It's the only way you'll have the courage to continually face your fears.

"Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing."

Ruben Gonzalez says that what helped him to keep going was visualizing the opening ceremony of the Games. He visualized with all his senses. It was as if he was actually there in person.

Lesson #3
Tap into the awesome power of your imagination to visualize your goals. Remember that your sub-conscious mind cannot differentiate between something that is real and something that is vividly imagined.

"Vivid visualizations are fuel for your dreams."
John Assaraf

Now, if you've been following the 2010 winter Olympics then you would have heard the tragic news of the death of the Georgian luge athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, during the final training session at the Whistler Sliding Centre. He died after crashing on the last corner of the course during training.

Georgia's small team of athletes (three alpine skiers, three figure skaters and another luger) did consider withdrawing from the Games but decided to continue - another testament to the spirit of Olympic athletes.

The death of this athlete helps to put into perspective the courage and bravery of lugers and just what an accomplishment Ruben Gonzalez has achieved. It is ironic that the young Nodar Kumaritashvili died at an age when Ruben Gonzalez was just starting out on his Olympic journey.

Ruben Gonzalez has achieved his dream of becoming an Olympic athlete and he says that one of the reasons he competes is to inspire other individuals to become Olympic athletes. It's my wish that you find and achieve your goal and dream whether it be an Olympic dream or simply an Olympic-sized dream.

"If you have a dream and you're willing to go for it and if you refuse to quit, you can make that dream come true."
Ruben Gonzalez

Video: Olympic Motivational Speaker Ruben Gonzalez Part 2

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