Two weeks ago we looked at the Miracle on the Hudson and discovered that miracles rarely “just happen”. Often, they are engineered. Captain Sullenberger said it was the 42 years of small deposits in the bank of experience, education, and training that allowed him to make such a big withdrawal on that fateful day.
Today, we’re going to look at the only other surefire way to engineer a miracle: Hard work.
Go back for a minute with me to January, 1980. The United States and the Soviet Union have been nuclear-armed rivals for three decades. They’ve fought over missiles in Cuba, spy planes in the artic, and rockets capable of sending men to the moon.
And they’ve fought over hockey.
It hadn’t been much of a fight to be honest. The Soviets had dominated international hockey for two decades. Since the 1960’s they’d won 14 International Championships and won gold in each of the last four Olympics.
But in January, 1980, they were coming to Lake Placid, New York. The chance to beat the Soviets on American soil, and the embarrassment of potentially handing them another trophy, was not lost on any red-blooded American that year.
Under a new coach, with an entirely amateur group of college kids, the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team defeats the USSR 4-3 and goes on to win the gold medal.
The Miracle on Ice.
What had been impossible just months ago was now a reality. They weren’t the best hockey players but that day, that year, they were the best team.
If you’re looking for a secret to their success, this scene from the 2004 movie Miracle illustrates it well:
No one has ever worked hard enough to skate with the Soviet team for an entire game. We are going to work hard enough.
So how do you engineer a miracle? Coach Herb said it. Work harder than anyone else.