There Is No Such Thing As Luck

Opportunity is everywhere. You just have to keep your eyes open and focus on finding it. Once you spot an opportunity, if you decide you are willing to do whatever it takes, it’s only a matter of time before you get what you want.

It was November 1987. I had just arrived at the luge track in St. Moritz, Switzerland. I was about to begin training and qualifying for that weekend’s World Cup Race. The International Luge World Cup Circuit is like a travelling circus. Every week, you see the same group of athletes at a different track. We typically travel on Mondays, train and qualify Tuesday
through Friday, and race on the weekend. Then, we all travel to the next track.

As soon as we got to the St. Moritz track, I noticed something was different. There were only three sleds signed up in the doubles competition. Doubles luge is a wild sport. Two athletes share the same sled. They both steer but only the top man can see. The top man gives body signals to the bottom man to tell him when to steer. It takes years to develop the trust, communication skills and teamwork required to do well in doubles. I’d never done it. I’m a singles luger.

Luger Ruben Gonzalez competing at the Salt Lake City Olympics, 2002
Luger Ruben Gonzalez competing at the Salt Lake City Olympics, 2002


But only three sleds! What an opportunity!

I ran to my best luge buddy, Pablo Garcia of Spain, and excitedly told him, “This is our chance! We’ll never have another opportunity like this! We have to find a doubles sled and race. If one of those other three sleds crashes, we’ll have a World Cup Medal!”

Pablo’s no dummy. He saw the opportunity right away. We convinced our coach to let us race. We told him the opportunity was too good to pass up. The opportunity was worth the risk of injury. It took a while to convince our coach, but finally he gave in. Now we just had to find a sled.

Finding a doubles sled in St. Moritz was going to be a real challenge. St. Moritz is not a big luge town. They love bobsled and skeleton (going down a luge run head first) however, hardly anyone in St. Moritz does the luge. But we were determined to do whatever it took to make it happen. I spent two days knocking on doors all around the town asking them if they had a doubles sled I could borrow. I was cold-calling in a foreign country! They speak German in St. Moritz. I don’t. It didn’t matter. When the dream is big enough, the facts don’t count. You just do it.

Finally, I found a man who had a 20-year-old rusted out sled in his shed. He agreed to let us borrow it. We spent the next two days getting the sled race-ready.

Everyone came out to see Pablo and me kill ourselves trying to do doubles. We almost did! But we finished the race, got a fourth place World Cup Medal (we’d never even seen a fourth place medal before—they usually have medals for the top three), got our pictures in the paper and, best of all, we earned so many World Cup Points for coming in fourth that, at the end of the season, we had a world ranking of 14th in the doubles!

The following week, when some of the athletes who had not shown up in St. Moritz heard about what we had done, they said we were lucky. We explained to them that luck had nothing to do with it. We simply had seen an opportunity and made a decision to do whatever it took to succeed.

I guarantee you that if you will develop that attitude—the attitude that you will go for it and give it your all—your life will be a lot more fun, and people will be amazed at the things you accomplish.

Jump, and the net will appear. It really will!

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Ruben Gonzalez Meet the Author
Ruben Gonzalez is an Olympian, award-winning speaker, business author and co-star of the personal development movie “Pass It On.” He can be reached by phone at 832-689-8282, or on the Web at