Ruben and Pablo at the Albertville Olympics
Opportunity is everywhere. You have to keep your eyes open and focus on finding it. Once you spot an opportunity, if you decide you are willing to do whatever it takes, it’s only a matter of time before you get what you want.
It was November 1987. We had just arrived at the luge track in St. Moritz, Switzerland. We were about to begin training and qualifying for that weekend’s World Cup Race. The International Luge World Cup Circuit is like a traveling circus. Every week, you see the same group of athletes at a different track. We typically travel on Mondays, train and qualify Tuesday through Friday, and race on the weekend. Then we all travel to the next track.
As soon as we got to the St. Moritz track, I noticed something was different. There were only three sleds signed up in the doubles competition. Doubles luge is a wild sport. Two athletes lying on the same sled. They both steer but only the top man can see. The top man gives body signals to the bottom man to tell him when to steer. It takes years to develop the trust, communication skills, and teamwork required to do well in doubles. I’d never done it. I’m a singles luger.
But only three sleds! What an opportunity!
I ran to my best luge buddy Pablo Garcia of Spain and excitedly told him, “This is our chance! We’ll never have another opportunity like this! We have to find a doubles sled and race. If one of those other three sleds crashes, we’ll have a World Cup Medal!”
Pablo’s no dummy. He saw the opportunity right away. We convinced our coach to let us race. We told him the opportunity was too good to pass up. The opportunity was worth the risk of injury. It took a while to convince coach, but finally he gave in. Now we just had to find a sled.
Finding a doubles sled in St. Moritz was going to be a real challenge. St. Moritz is not a big luge town. They love Bobsled and Skeleton, but hardly anyone in St. Moritz does the luge. But we were determined to do whatever it took to make it happen. I spent two days knocking on doors all around the town asking them if they had a doubles sled I could borrow. I was cold-calling in a foreign country! They speak German in St. Moritz. I don’t. But it didn’t matter. When the dream is big enough, the facts don’t count. You just do it.
Finally, I found a man who had a 20-year-old rusted out sled in his shed. He agreed to let us borrow it.
We spent the next two days getting the sled race-ready.
Everyone came out to see Pablo and I kill ourselves trying to do doubles. We almost did! But we finished the race, got a fourth place World Cup Medal (we’d never even seen a 4th place medal before, they usually have medals for the top three), got out pictures in the paper, and best of all, we earned so many World Cup Points for coming in 4th, that at the end of the season we had a world ranking of 14th in the doubles!!!
The following week, when some of the athletes that had not shown up in St. Moritz heard about what we had done, they said we were lucky. We explained to them that luck had nothing to do with it. We simply had seen an opportunity, and made a decision to do whatever it took to win.
I guarantee you that if you will develop that attitude – the attitude that you will go for it and give it your all, your life will be a lot more fun, and people will be amazed at the things you accomplish.
Jump, and the net will appear. It really will!