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Beating the Odds

Planning for Miracles

Sherlock Holmes: “You think, sir, that unless this document is recovered there will be war?”
Client: “I think it is very probable.”
Sherlock Holmes: “Then, sir, prepare for war.”

On this date in 1980, the U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviet Union 4-3 at Lake Placid, N.Y. Two days later, the Americans beat Finland to cap what is now known as the “Miracle On Ice.”

How could this happen? How could a group of college kids beat the strongest hockey power in the world? And more importantly, how can you make miracles happen in your life?

The hockey miracle happened because U.S. Coach Herb Brooks planned for success. He prepared his team for the toughest challenge it could possible face. He knew that in order to have a chance to accomplish anything great, his team would have to beat the Soviets. And so he trained to do just that.

There is a saying: “When you wrestle a bear, you don’t stop when you get tired. You stop when the bear gets tired.”

So Brooks never wasted time hoping the threat would go away. He developed a mind-body plan for victory: He knew his team would have to be in great physical condition, and he built his squad’s mental game with constant reminders that the Soviets were human and could be beaten.

Sure enough, the Americans took the ice with a belief that the opponent could be beaten, and they did the unthinkable — outplayed the Soviets in the third period.

At the end, TV announcer Al Michaels yelled, “Do you believe in miracles?

It was a classic line, but not quite fair to what happened. Was it a miracle? If so, it was a miracle that was planned very well.

So if you want miracles in your life, start by sizing up the threat, and then developing a plan to defeat it.


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