One day, I found myself at the top of a mountain,
one descent to go, one last chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.
I wasn’t even old enough to walk into a PG-13 movie alone when my dream took roots,
yet there I stood, my three teammates by my side,
and facing the opportunity to make history.
My mind wandered, just for half a second,
but that half-second was filled with a lifetime of memories,
and two decisions that brought me here to the top of the mountain.
I made the first decision after a very challenging period in my career as an athlete,
five years of recurring injuries as a track athlete.
Five years, that’s a long time to dedicate to anything.
But as much as I loved track, the injuries were slowly killing my drive and my dreams.
My injuries had me feeling like a failure at a sport that I was once great at.
The last of this series of injuries required major elbow surgery,
and as I sat on my couch, days out of surgery,
I thought of an old coach and mentor’s words,
comparing me to a great bobsledder he once knew.
"Bobsled? No way!"
But after year upon year of not reaching the goals I set for myself in track,
it was time for a change.
So I reached out to the U.S. Olympic Committee, and they told me to start training.
Great! I was going to be a bobsledder. I didn’t really know anything about it,
but the first decision had been made.
And there I was, in what felt like just a blink of an eye later,
about to push my four-man sled with my team
to the chance of Olympic gold, Olympic glory.
“后滑！前滑！预备 —— ”
"Back set! Front set! Ready and — "
the driver yelled, and off we went.
We dug as deep as we could, and as the cadence of our steps increased and the sled accelerated,
we left everything we had on the track, before leaving the ice
and boarding our Night Train sled.
And a calm came over me,
and once in the sled, as it was picking up speed,
for just another millisecond, my mind went back to that day on the couch.
"How can I train for the bobsled team without getting hurt over and over again like before?"
I had to look into the mirror and realize that I still wanted to compete.
I still wanted to succeed.
But I had to face the reality that my getting hurt wasn’t to be blamed elsewhere.
I had to realize that if I had a problem, it was up to me to change it.
I had to confront that what I had been doing all this time
may not have been the best things for me.
I had to confront my reality and make a change,
and that was the second decision.
The decision in my mind not to get hurt anymore would have many layers,
but it mostly had to do with taking responsibility for all the variables in my life.
If I had thought something I would do or something I felt
would lead me to injury, then it most certainly would.
I would have to have a fundamental shift in mindset.
I learned to let go of the fears I had trained myself to have over the years
and simply decided to trust myself and my body
to push through situations I had thought insurmountable before.
What followed those five years of injuries
were nine years of not missing one race
I entered for the USA national and Olympic teams.
Because I made a decision, and then another one,
and held true to those two decisions,
I found myself back with my team approaching 90 miles per hour.
And as we came around the last corners, I could hear the crowd cheering
and the cowbells blaring, and a hard "You!" coming from the masses
as we passed by at 95 miles an hour.
But someone wasn’t yelling "You!" at us, they were yelling "USA!"
But we were moving so fast, we only heard the first piece of it.
We then came around the last bend,
and when we all looked up, the clock simply read "1."
We had done it; we were Olympic gold medalists.
We were the best in the world.
My hands went up immediately, as the moment I had been waiting for my entire life had finally come true.
And as our sled slowly came to a stop
and I looked into the crowd to see my mom and dad
and sister and family and friends crying for me,
I knew my decisions had been worth the sacrifice, worth the fear.
Two decisions and those five minutes sitting on that couch
began to change my life
and sticking to them fulfilled my dreams.
It was those decisions and standing by them that
ultimately gave me the confidence to perform at the Olympic games.
What two decisions can you make and stick to
that will change your life forever?
I challenge you to look at what you’re doing in your life
and think of what you dream to do.