Do you believe in miracles?
That was the question broadcaster Al Michaels asked in the closing seconds of the greatest sports upset of all time. He answered himself on air by screaming, “Yes!” and the rest is history.
It was February 22, 1980, and in the midst of some of the harshest days of the Cold War, the USA men's hockey team had just defeated the unbeatable Soviet Union in the medal round of the Winter Olympics. It was the outcome no one saw coming.
Just a few days before the Olympics began, the same two teams played an exhibition which the Soviets won 10-3. They could’ve won 20-3 – that’s how tilted the ice was.
With the lights even brighter, how could the young Americans compete with the Soviets in Lake Placid? After all, the USSR had won gold at four straight Olympics; had trounced, in 1979, a squad of NHL all-stars, laden with future Hall of Famers; and had stars like Boris Mikhailov and Vladislav Tretiak, the world’s top goalie.
The U.S. strategy was this: play with speed, use all four lines in quick shifts to tire out the older Soviets, and play better and more together than they ever had before.
Before the game, U.S. coach Herb Brooks – known for rousing speeches – gave maybe his best ever. He told his amateur team of mostly early 20-somethings that he was sick of hearing about how great the Soviets were. He famously said: “Their time is done. It’s over. This is your time. Now go out there and take it.”
Who wouldn’t get psyched up after hearing those words? They’re so powerful, in fact, that they not only worked for American hockey players, but they can work for you, too.
Think about it. What you face sometimes in sales may seem insurmountable. There are ever-tightening margin pressures. Customers who constantly demand rush orders. Competitors entrenched with clients you so badly want. Well remember this: Their time is done. This is your time.
For me, the enduring lesson of the Miracle on Ice is the power of belief. Talent, commitment and execution all mattered – as they do in business – but belief is a factor that can’t be measured. If you believe you can do it, you've already given yourself the edge you need to succeed. Brooks' team believed it could win. That's where the victory got its spark and its momentum. So get focused, get energized and go out there and take it – because you can. I believe in your miracle and you should, too.