In week 14 of the Master Key course we were asked to watch any of 4 movies and blog about them. For 13 weeks now we have discovered that Persistence is not a characteristic but 4 tiny habits….
Who would have thought that Walt Disney revealed these 4 tiny habits in a movie about the 1988 Jamaican Bobsled team, a team that if you know the story, came to the Calgary Olympics in Canada as underdogs, and in some cases the laughing stocks of the Bobsled competition. They astonishingly returned to Jamaica after the Olympics as National Hero’s and then came back to the next Olympics as equals…
How could anyone in a country like Jamaica, with no cold temperatures, no snow, no ice to practise on, and never before a Bobsled Olympic athlete, become Hero’s in the sport? And what were the 4 tiny habits that apply to anyone who has mastered Persistence? I’d like to tell you the story and then reveal those habits to you. Cool Runnings is an American sports film directed by John Turteltaub and produced by Walt Disney Films. In 1968 Irv Blitzer, American bobsled Olympian, won 2 Gold medals and out of his experience and Hero’s journey of loss and redemption, the Jamaican bobsled team was born. Irv had retired to Jamaica after his Olympic career and approached Jamaican sprinter Ben Bannock to consider the Olympic sport of bobsledding.
Are you kidding me! Why would a world class sprinter in a hot country with no winter sports want to be a bobsled driver? Simple. Blitzer believed that any sprinter who could run 100M in 9.9 seconds, could be lightening fast if they were to push a bobsled. Well he failed to convince Bannock to take his journey.
Wind the clock forward a decade or so and the story begins with Derice Bannock and a few of his Jamaican pals trying to qualify for the 1988 Olympics in the 100m run. These world class sprinters were lightening fast. Derice Bannock, son of the late Ben Bannock, Sanka Coffie, also a Jamaican push cart champion (a form of go kart racing), plus Yul Brenner and Junior Bevil were in the race. On your marks, set…go! The gun sounded and these athletes poured their hearts out running like cheetahs….until mid race something traumatic happened. Junior Bevil accidentally tripped up Derice, Sanka and Yul and they all tumbled and never made it to the finish line. OMG, their Olympic dreams vanished in a second.
The next chapter of the story was incredible. Derice Bannock believed in his heart that he was born to compete in the Olympics…he contested the failed race and asked to have it rerun. But to no avail. His belief to find a way into the Olympics was so strong, he accidentally discovered a photograph of his father hanging on a wall together with Irv Blitzer. He learned of the story of Irv being an Olympian bobsled champion and went to see him. Irv when they met didn’t make the connection until Bannock mentioned his name…he told Irv he was Ben’s son. It was at that moment that Irv’s dream resurfaced. He never lost his belief in building a Jamaican bobsled team.
Irv led Derice, Sanka, Yul and Junior through the journey of training to be bobsled Olympians. Naturally you can imagine how the dynamics were between the four of them knowing that Junior was responsible for tripping the others up and losing their Olympic dreams. Wow! Derice was the natural leader. Words like “give up” didn’t mean anything to him. He was focused on his dream and Vision of being an Olympian…he didn’t know what winning looked like but he knew Irv had the experience with 2 Gold medals to lead him there. And if he could build a team that had a positive attitude, and the persistence to collectively achieve the same dream, it would be powerful.
Wind the story forward. Blitzer travelled to Calgary to register the Jamaican team for the 1988 Winter Olympics. They were met with scepticism and laughter. However Irv persevered with his dream. The story as illustrated in the movie was quite exciting and humorous. Watching these sprinters who had never walked on Ice train was comical. They kept hitting obstacles mentally but each time they did, Derice arose as a natural leader. His belief in his dream and the support of Irv’s experience, kept them in continuous action with their plan. They faced challenges along the way. For example they had no sled which led to Irv calling in a favour from a former buddy of his. What came next was a shocker…a rust bucket of a sled and the picture here is much improved from what they actually received for $4800.00 The team continued to train and Irv appointed Derice to drive the sled. In
one of his leadership rants, he told the team that the driver of the sled had to be a natural leader. He would sit in his room nightly and look at photos of the course, learn every turn, every inch of the ice, and was usually the first and last to leave the practise. He had laser focus and was the eyes of the team. It wasn’t a natural choice in the team’s eyes because Sanka back in Jamaica was a push cart champion driver however Sanka was aligned to the team vision and he knew that he didn’t have the focus and belief to be accountable for the lives of his team. He knew Derice did.
The first qualifying race was upon the team and they needed to run the track in under 1 minute 2 seconds. The team pushed off for the qualifying run and BAM, made it within the time. The commentators were astonished and couldn’t believe it. Coach always said that success was based on doing it over and over 100X and the team believed they could win.
More obstacles appeared as they prepared for the competition. They needed sponsorship money, uniforms and most importantly, they were dealing with some dream stealer family members who felt the team was wasting their time. In all cases the team held each other together, focused on their positive attitude and huddled with their coach Irv to keep on the plan of action. The story became very emotional for Irv when the Alliance or Olympic Committee disqualified his team. Irv was extremely upset as he told his players. They
could not believe their ears as they had made the qualifying time. In a breathtaking scene with the Committee members, Irv realized the disqualification was about him not his team. Here we discovered the true story of Irv. He had been stripped of his 2 Gold medals for putting weights in the front of the sled when he was competing himself. He was disqualified for cheating. He pleaded for his team with the Committee. He asked them to focus on his team, not his mistakes. Alas, the committee overturned their decision. Jamaica was on again! It was actually that evening that the team masterminded together, they huddled with Irv and prayed for the outcome to be favourable. Derice never stopped believing. They manifested the decision with their positive focus and belief..I am sure of that.
As the preparations went on, the team sputtered a few times and Irv continued to mentor them and keep them focused on their plan of action. The team tried copying the style of other teams on the ice and only succeeded when they remembered to be themselves. Slowly but surely they moved up from last place to 8th place. Derice could see things differently than most…the rust bucket of a sled he saw as a beautiful thing. He knew Jamaican’s were different and everyone was laughing at them. He said “We are different. People are always afraid of what is different. We must remember always who we are”.
It was the eve before the Olympic race and this scene in the movie for me was the most moving. Derice was in his room studying photos of the course and Irv came in. Derice asked Irv why he cheated and Irv said “Because I had to win”. “I made winning my whole life…I had to keep winning. A gold medal is a wonderful thing but if you don’t feel you are enough without it, you will never be enough with it!”. Derice asked Irv “How will I know that I am enough”…and Irv replied “you will know”.
The morning arrived and the big race was on! In the lead up to the race everything manifested itself. The team painted the sled, the uniforms were spectacular and Derice picked a name for the sled team. It was “Cool Runnings”…when asked what it meant, he said “Peace be the Journey”. Derice had a vision that when they pushed off, the crowed in Jamaica and in Calgary would be screaming and yelling support…and the words he wanted to hear loud and clear from his team were “Cool Runnings”.
And so the last chapter unfolds quickly. That beautiful sled was pushed off in lightening speed, the team screamed around the track and even the announcers noted that they were ahead of the leading Swiss team by a second or two…they were astonished and in a split second the Jamaican team became the real deal. Nobody doubted them. Back home in Jamaica the people were watching the TV in bars and homes with this incredible feeling of love and belief in this team!
What happened next stopped our hearts…one of the nuts sheered off the skid on the sled as it approached the half way point of the race…the team was ahead of the others in time but the sled started to shudder…and then it happened. The sled went out of control, smashing and screeching against the icy embankments…then finally turning over on its side. The 4 men were sliding now on their sides, their helmets jammed against the ice wall of the track and sliding, sliding…the crowd was stunned and silent and the announcers were gasping for air. The sled came to a stop and within seconds the emergency crews were scrambling to walk up the track to see if they had survived the horrific crash. Then it happened, and this was the moment that the team in the hearts and minds of everyone around the world, became Hero’s. They started to move in the sled, then Derice said “we have to finish the race”. They emerged from the sled one by one and then carried the sled the rest of the way to the finish line. That incredibly heavy sled must have weight a tonne but the momentum and belief in this team made it seem like it was a feather… As we watched the team cross the finish line, the crowd was cheering…I
had tears welling up and a shiver down my spine. And all over the world this team had become a symbol of heroism, persistence, They received hand shakes from the other leading teams and as they walked off the course their smiles were beaming ear to ear.
Now you know the true story of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team. So what are the 4 tiny habits that are the secret to Persistence: The team and coach had a Definiteness of Purpose, they had incredible Positive Mental Attitudes that could block out all negativity, they had a written plan of action that kept them in continuous action and the Masterminding with their experienced coach helped them solve problems and find the finish line. They had fun all the time when others would be too serious.
Folks, PERSISTENCE is not a characteristic. It is 4 simple HABITS:
DMP + PMA + WPOA + MMA = SUCCESS
Every time you watch a movie about persistence or achievement of some incredible dream or goal, I challenge you to look for these 4 Habits in the story line. Because of the Master Key training I have these embedded in my thinking. They are automatic and just jumped out at me in the movie. The final thought I give to you today is that you have within you everything you need to achieve anything you desire…and the success formula will manifest your hero’s journey!!
I look forward to talking to you again in Week 15. Thanks for reading the story, and leave me your thoughts if you can.