Olympic Gold Medalist Dana Lynn Hee On the Importance Of Action, Focus, Preparation, Perseverance & Innovation

Focus is the locomotive of success. You just put yourself on track and go forward one railroad tie at a time. Before you know it you’ll be humming along that track saying I think I CAN!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dana Lynn Hee, Author, Motivational Speaker, Olympic Gold Medalist.

Dana Lynn Hee has been inspiring audiences with her stories of victory ever since she won the gold medal in Taekwondo in the Seoul Olympic Games.

From a childhood of abandonment, abuse and despair, she lived in an orphanage, on the streets, halfway houses, a government shelter and finally, a foster home. Even with the help of society’s ‘safety-net,’ she grew up thinking she was not good enough, and never would be!

Yet Dana’s journey along that rocky road to Olympic gold changed her thinking from “I can’t,” to “I can!” From there, she followed her dreams and passions, becoming an award-winning stuntwoman, performing for top actresses on blockbuster films for 15 years before venturing successfully into the world of publicity and public speaking.

If this sounds easy, it wasn’t. Even in her late 40s, she experienced physical, financial, and emotional issues that brought her to her knees once again. But she never quits, for according to Dana, “The only thing worse than failure is being too afraid to even try!”

She has traveled around the world speaking to audiences up to 45,000 people. Now in her 50s, she is again sharing her stories from the Olympics, Hollywood and life on the global speaking circuit, to help show others around the world just how much is truly possible.

“Nothing can beat a human spirit that is determined to succeed,” says Dana; “Adversity can only delay success.”

Dana’s warmth, passion and determination inspire and delight any audience. Her tools of success help others achieve and her words of empowerment elevate the human spirit.

Her latest book “One Step With Courage” is available now on Amazon.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Dana! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Igrew up in an orphanage from age three to 11, and then in abusive family situations before, ending up on the streets at age 15. From there, it was halfway houses and a government shelter, and finally a foster home at 16.

As a young woman with no self esteem or confidence, I learned how to change my life around with one step with courage and focus on what I CAN do. My life was changed forever.. I became an award-winning Hollywood stuntwoman, Olympic gold medalist and keynote speaker at events with over 45K attendees. All with ‘One Step With Courage.’ All of us can do this. It’s a matter of focusing on what you can do so there when there is no fear to interfere from your objectives. I have learned how to use my lessons from the Olympics to help with anything I desire to do.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

One particular person, Chung Sik Choi of Binghamton, New York helped me to gain the confidence of a champion. His training was the key to my success.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

At the Olympic trials I got TKO’d. To convince the judge I was Ok, I stood on one foot and kicked like in the Karate Kid movie. Everyone was laughing and the judge let me continue.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you tell us the story of your transition from a professional athlete to a successful business person?

From athlete to keynote speaker was quite the transition. Initially, I was picked up by the United Way of the Bay Area to speak for multitudes of companies like Hewlett Packard and Emporium Capwell, etc. Then I branched out to speaking for 45K attendees at the national FFA Conference in Indiana. This transition was rough initially, but I used my ‘One StepWith Courage’ recipe for succeeding with this.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects new you are working on now?

Before this pandemic situation, I garnered letters from many countries (Russia, India, Iran, Spain, Peru, and Guatemala) to speak on empowering women. Unfortunately, this has been tabled for the time being because of Covid. I am excited though to join the international speakers’ circuit when it is safe again to do so.

I also just released my new book, “One Step With Courage” which is available now on Amazon.

Do you think your experience as a professional athlete gave you skills that make you a better entrepreneur? Can you give a story or example about what you mean?

I believe my lessons from my Olympic journey gave me the skills to succeed in life. Lessons like take one step with courage and focus on what CAN be done. This leaves no room for fears to interfere and derail yourself from your goal. For example, I was injured going into the Olympics and no one thought I’d be able to compete. Training physically only made the damage worse. So I trained mentally with my mind. I visualized my techniques and attacks and defenses. And on the day, I was finally ready to compete….and win.

Ok. Here is the main question of our interview. Entrepreneurs and professional athletes share a common “hustle culture”. Can you share your “5 Work Ethic Lessons That Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Athletes”? Please share a story or an example for each.

First and foremost are five principles — Action, Focus, Preparation, Perseverance and Innovation

Action: It is the law of inertia. Nothing will ever change without movement.

Action began when I took my first step toward my Olympic dream.

Preparation: Is the shell that holds the egg together. Without it you just have one sticky gooey mess.

Focus: Is the locomotive of success. You just put yourself on track and go forward one railroad tie at a time. Before you know it you’ll be humming along that track saying I think I CAN!

Focus was learned along the way by keeping my focus on each thing needed to be done. For example, when I did a car hit for Hollywood film, I was scared to death, yet I kept my focus on each thing needed to be done at that moment. I bent my knees in preparation for the impact, the bumper of the car hit me and I was thrown up and into the windshield of the car. From there I caught glimpses of blue, then brown, before landing on the ground with a big thud. As I picked myself up and dusted off my clothes, I noticed one of the camera men looking at me in horror. How could I do such a thing? I could’ve been killed. As I walked back to my mark to do the car hit once again, I smiled to myself. I knew I could do anything despite my fears…even stand in front of an oncoming car. I had just reinforced my Olympic discovery that if I could take a step with courage and keep my focus on what I needed to do…there was no fear to interfere and derail me from my objective.

Perseverance: 100% is NOT enough. Always give 110%.

I learned during a training session with my New York coach. When trying to do my best he came over and told me my best was not good enough. Don’t Try….just DO! He exclaimed! That’s when I learned to apply 110% to my efforts.

Innovation: Sometimes one way is not good enough. Find another way.

The Innovation came in when I was not able to train physically, but instead mentally, to prepare for the Olympics.

What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?

To someone following my footsteps, my advice is simple. Take Action…even if it’s the wrong door, another will open. It’s the law of inertia. Keep your focus on what you CAN do…not on what you CANNOT. Prepare yourself with 110% effort and keep your focus on each railroad tie along the way.

You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

My goal in life has always been to help others. I had very little help growing up. Now it’s my turn!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My path in life is to help other women know what is truly possible with just a little bit of knowledge and work. We are all so capable of more than what we know or can imagine. It is my goal to bring that dream and message to others worldwide.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Don’t Try…Just Do!” is my life lesson quote because try is not good enough. It allows for excuses and complaints. “Just Do!” allows for no excuses.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to meet again with my fellow Olympian Greg Louganis, the famous diver from the 1988 Olympics. I had breakfast with him without truly knowing him or what he had accomplished by hitting his head on the diving board then coming back to nail his second dive. What an amazing feat!

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