Red Gerard, a 17-year-old from Colorado made history this past weekend as the youngest person ever to win an Olympic gold medal for snowboarding. By a lot of measures he shouldn’t have been. On the day he won his medal, he failed to do just about everything you’re supposed to if you want to be successful.
Consider these widely accepted pieces of success advice:
1. Always get a good night’s sleep and wake up early.
We all know about the importance of sleep. And that successful all bounce out of bed really, really early. So what did Gerard do? He stayed up late the night before his very first Olympic event binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. When his alarm went off at 6 am, he was too sleepy to get up. He lay there for 20 minutes until his roommate finally roused him.
2. Always be well-prepared to face your day, especially an important one.
It’s important to think ahead and be organized. But after Gerard finally got out of bed, he discovered his jacket was missing and he didn’t know where it had gone. This was no minor matter since it was frigidly cold outside. If Gerard’s roommate–the same one who woke him up–hadn’t also lent him his ski jacket, someone else might have wound up with the gold.
3. Always keep a professional demeanor.
Gerard’s first two runs down the snowboard course were bad enough to leave him in last place. Fortunately, this is a sport where your best of three runs is the only one that counts, and his third run was spectacularly good. When he learned he’d won the gold medal, the very professional 17-year-old shouted “Holy fuck!” for all the world to hear. Literally, because in spite of its delayed broadcast, NBC did not bleep the audio. Gerard also cheerfully told the press that his 18 family members who accompanied him to Pyeongchang had been “shotgunning beer” at 8:30 am on the day he competed and that they’d been “chugging sake” ever since. (Although, really, who can blame them?)
But there’s one more rule for success that Gerard followed in a big way, and it turns out to be the only rule that matters:
4. Do what you love.
As you might guess from Gerard’s pre-event behavior, he never got all that nervous about the Olympics. He just didn’t realize they were that big a deal. And anyway, he’s not really in it for the medals, he’s in it because he adores snowboarding. One of his many siblings built a snowboarding course in their backyard, and all the kids spent a lot of time having fun out there. Even at the Olympics getting on a board for Gerard is all about fun.
“Everyone’s trying to win and do good. But he actually enjoys snowboarding and you can see it,” one of the other competitors told Fox News. “He’ll snowboard until he can’t snowboard.”
That’s it–that’s the secret. Find something you love to do as much as Red Gerard loves snowboarding and you will be happy and successful. Even if you never get rich or famous or land a fancy title or fancy office. Just like Gerard, you’ll be having too much fun to really care. Just like him, you won’t be in it for the gold.