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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Meeting Dan Gable: The most inspirational man of all time?

I saw Dan Gable Speak this weekend at my old high school.

Dan Gable is easily one of the most inspirational people to have ever walked the planet Earth. For those who are not familiar with Dan, he is a wrestler and a coach. Anyone who has ever wrestled competitively before can attest to the fact that this wrestling stuff’s not easy. Being successful in wrestling requires rock solid determination, discipline and mental toughness. Dan Gable is the definition of these words, and that is still an understatement. Here’s why:

Dan Gable’s wrestling accomplishments:
- Undefeated record throughout high school with 3 state championships
- 181-1 collegiate record (His only loss was the NCAA national championship his senior year
- 2 time NCAA national champion wrestling in college
- 1971 World Gold Medalist
- 1972 Olympic Gold Medalist - No one scored a single point on him throughout the Olympics

Dan Gable’s Coaching Accomplishments (University of Iowa)
- 15 team NCAA national championships
- 21 straight Big Ten titles
- Team record of 355-21-5

That’s freaking ridiculous. It takes a special personality to accomplish the things Dan did. Dan reported training 7 days per week for 7 hours per day (That's not a typo). He said that he, himself wasn’t even a good wrestler until he suffered his first loss in college. Keep in mind that in college he would routinely go up to 30 match streaks where he would pin every opponent and he was also routinely winning matches 25-0. The day after his first loss in college, after his team won the national championship, he was back on the mat training again with renewed passion.

As a coach he would have his athletes do conditioning on aerodyne bikes (the ones where you can simultaneously pump levers with your arms while cycling with your legs and it would power a fan on the front wheel). The athletes would do 1 minute of work to 1 minute of rest and while cycling they were required to pedal hard enough to max out the intensity settings on the bike. His athletes were wiped after doing 20 minutes of this 1 minute of work followed by 1 minute of rest. Dan would get on the bike and pin the intensity to maximum in the same way he had his athletes do for just 1 minute at a time but he would go for 45 minutes straight. He did this just to show his athletes the power of mental intensity.

Dan is one passionate dude and he’s well respected, for good reason. He received a standing ovation before and after his speech. I truly believe he could have went to the podium and said absolutely nothing for 45 minutes and people would still have shown him the same respect just because of what he has accomplished with his life. That's powerful.

Dan’s Key Points:

- Discipline makes being the best easy.

- Believe in those who tell you that you can become great, really, believe it.

- The most successful people are the ones who show up first and leave last.

- Welcome adversity. eg: turn injuries into opportunity - Dan injured his knee 6 months before the Olympics and changed his wrestling style completely because of it allowing him increased scoring opportunity.

- Make issues a non-issue, you can’t succeed fully with anything in the way holding you back.

- Discipline, discipline, discipline

- Have a solid support network

- Think BIG! Dan’s new goal is trying to reach and motivate as many people as possible through his passion for wrestling

I think the take home message here is that anything is possible but the most important thing is to first make up your mind that you are going to do it. That is going to hold true in every facet of your life, especially making up your mind to change your health and fitness for the better. You have to believe in yourself and then put those thoughts into action, consistently. What I think was most impressive about Dan’s career is his mental power and focus. He made the decision to become the person he is today. Dan set very solid goals for himself for every single practice. He did this on a daily basis, and made improvements along the way, which added up to something very big. He believed in himself. Dan's story is that of a self fulfilling prophecy. His story reminds me of all of the possibility there is in the world if you can focus your attention properly.


Runks said...

Hey Pope! Awesome article. I did wrestle in high school and feel every word. Inspiring, Thanks.

djpope said...

Dustin? Thanks! It was pretty surreal just to see this guy in person.

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