A Time Manifesto and Event Horizon
To close this, I'm going to ask you when we get to Q&A, is there something you can commit to, or someone you can commit to giving an event horizon to? There's somebody out there right now that needs to hear something from you, or do something that you can help enable, because when you can give the gift of one of these moments, it can be truly life changing. We all have the capacity and we don't always realize it. I'm going to share a story from a number of years ago. After the '94 games, I trained through '98. I had a great run for a number of years. Then I made the mistake of rejoining the Olympic Team for the '98 games and they put me on the same training program and, instead of coming back with a gold medal as I had hoped, I ended up not making the team, and so embarrassed and humiliated for spending four years of my life pursuing this fruitless thing, that I got off the ice after the trials and I didn't put my skate guards on cause I knew I'd never skate again. I walked across ...
the concrete, grabbed my skate bag, got in my car, took off my skates in the car, drove to Arizona, put it all behind me, had nothing to do with it, didn't talk about it, didn't watch it. I mailed my medal to my parents US Postal mail, no insurance and I didn't see it for nearly a decade. Had nothing to do, hard divorce, cause that life was over and I needed to start a new life, but then eight years later I got a call from NBC and they said, hey, will you be our analyst for the Torino Olympics for short track, and I was like, I can't say no to that. So, I flew over to Italy and I got reoriented, and met with the parents and coaches and skaters, because my job was to feed the back stories to the commentators about all the behind the scenes stuff, and so, I was reinserted in to the family and I knew quite a number of these parents and skaters from previous years and they warmly welcomed me back, and that was great but on the 16th of 17 days at the Winter Olympic Games, a parent pulled me aside and in 20 seconds, changed my entire life, and he gave me an event horizon moment. I wouldn't have known it by that term at that time. We were at a restaurant, Huntsmans Bar in downtown Torino, he pulled me aside after dinner, he's like, hey, I've got to tell you something, it's really important and he looked nervous, he looked emotional and I said, okay. So, he pulls me over to the corner, he starts talking, apparently my eyes wandered, so he grabs the back of my head and he says, I need you to listen. I was like, okay, he was a schoolteacher. So, okay, and so, this is what he told me, he said, I just want you to know that we wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for you, and I said I don't know what you mean. He said, you won't remember probably, but 12 years ago after you won your medal, you came to a little reception in Bay City, Michigan. You brought your medal, you put it around my son's neck, Alex, he was 11 years old at the time. He had never skated before in his life. The next day he joined the Bay City Speed Skating Club and tomorrow he's skating for a gold medal. I jus, that blew my mind. Like, literally, my cranium sort of popped off the top of my head and everything changed. In that moment, everything changed. Total kairos moment. I realized right away I'm going to get involved. I'm going to get my daughter skating. I'm gonna to coach, I'm gonna announce, I'm gonna be back in this family that I abandoned for 10 years, and so I did, I started coaching, I coached for six years. My daughter skated for five. I continued working as the analyst for NBC and most notably, I started talking about it. This is all I do for a living. I tell this story to close every time, and it changed my entire life. So, I, and I knew it, I knew it in that moment. It was immediate recognition that everything in my life would fundamentally shift after that short paragraph from that person, that gift he gave me. So, I went home and I wrote him, I think I went back to my room and I wrote him a long rambling email, I believe. I don't really know what I said, but I knew, I know I recognized that it was important what he had said to me, and I had thanked him profusely for it, and so he wrote me back a letter, and I'm gonna read to you to close out the session before we do Q&A, and maybe some commitments on event horizons, that I think applies to everybody here and everybody out there as well, because we are all moving through this sphere of time and having impacts that we may not recognize at the time, but even the smallest ones can have a dramatic difference. So, I'll read this to you. This is from the father, he got home and wrote me this. John, I am deeply touched and moved by your words and reaction. After I read your email I went up to Alex's bedroom and looked at his bulletin board that holds only the most meaningful awards and memories of his childhood and skating career. Pinned near the right border in a Ziploc bag is a napkin from Steamers Pub with your signature on it dated 1994, along with a picture of you with Alex and your silver medal. I then went to our Italy photos and I found a picture of you with Alex and his bronze medal, which he won the very next night, I printed it off, I returned to the bulletin board, carefully opened the bag, gently slid the new photo in, resealed the bag and pinned it back in the exact same hole. I stepped back and contemplated the many things that had to have taken place in so many people's lives for those two photos to be in that bag together hanging on a bulletin board in a boy's bedroom, where he only dreamed of such success. As I stood and stared, I was overwhelmed by emotion as I again tried to comprehend the awesome unifying power of the Olympic Games and values. Thank you for sharing your success with us 12 years ago, and thank you for including Alex and me in the circle of success 12 years later, and here's the part I think applies to everybody here and everybody watching, I guess you never know what role you may play in someone's life or just how important the things you choose to do or say, or choose not do or say, may turn out to be. I didn't remember Alex at first, when Al told me this but then I did. It was a really small moment, small gesture, but fast forward 12 years later and there he is, standing on the podium at the Olympic Games. That small thing meant so much. That small increment of time meant so much, and here's the really cool part, I got a call from Alex, it'd be a year ago April, and we'd become good friends, and he said, hey John, I just want you to be the first to know, I just got off the phone with the US Olympic Committee. I just accepted the Head Coach job for the US Olympic Team. I'll be coaching them to the Olympics. So, pretty cool how these little things can really, really matter. Something I did, that I didn't remember or barely did changed his life, and something his father gave to me 12 years later changed my entire life, and so too, have we other opportunities to say those things that need to be said, and to have the guts to do it, cause one thing Al told me over and over is, I almost didn't do it, he was like, I was one beer over, or one beer shy of doing it before I finally decided to do it, cause it took some guts, it took some, taking a risk because he's like, I'm going to be this over zealous parent, but thank god he did because I get to do what I do now, directly because of a 20 second conversation. So, we too have the chance to do exactly these things.