Success is a decision - Ruben Gonzalez – Four-time Olympian and motivational speaker.


Many of us have watched the Olympics and marveled at the amazing skills shown by the world-class athletes. But Ruben Gonzalez watched the 1984 Winter Olympics and thought, “That could be me.” Through pure will and mental toughness, not only did Ruben make his way to the Olympics, but he made it there four separate times. This week’s episode is a truly special one as I sit down with the first ever Olympian to compete in the Winter Olympics in four different decades, luger Ruben Gonzalez. His story is awe-inspiring because his attitude, belief in himself and dedication to hard work helped him achieve his ultimate dreams.

Over the course of our conversation, we discuss how a trip to the library and a letter he wrote to Sports Illustrated propelled him into luge, what traits he possessed that made it possible for him to be an Olympian (hint: many weren’t physical), what it was like walking into the opening ceremonies for the first time, and how he trained in Lake Placid, NY but ultimately competed for Argentina. Ruben’s impressive life story has allowed him to become an author and keynote speaker of renown, spreading his message of perseverance and hard work to many. Our talk will resonate with many and may help you feel motivated for more in your personal and professional life. Enjoy this conversation about luge and life and you may even find yourself heading to the library afterwards.


  • If you have a dream, it doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. You can achieve it.

  • Stick to whatever plan you have. It can work for you, no matter how long it takes.

  • Something can look easy from the outside. Don’t jump to conclusions on how hard it could be until you try it.

  • All people have some form of drive to be better. If you can’t see it in someone, they may be looking for a way to have it ignited.

  • Just because you or someone on your team does something right once doesn’t mean it’s cause for celebration. Getting the training down to do it consistently is what matters. Visualizing the success you want for yourself and those around you will help you get there.

  • Mental preparation is immensely helpful to get you in the right frame of mind before any type of moment in your life.

  • Sometimes the success of the team is more important than the success of the individual.

  • Everybody can improve. There is always room to get better in your given field.

  • Stick to your routine that works. Don’t be afraid to put in the work and help others put in the work, even if you or they want to quit.

  • Show respect to those around you, even rivals and competitors. You’re all in the same game at the end of the day.

  • Doing the work and developing the right habits can help you reach your ultimate goals.

Ruben Gonzalez Career Accomplishments

  • Olympic luger and first person to compete in the Winter Olympics in four different decades

  • Qualified for 2010 Winter Olympics at the age of 47

  • Author of five books

  • Professional keynote speaker since 2002

Key Conversation Takeaways

  • 3:07: How a trip to the library changed his life

  • 10:05: What it was like to start a sport about 10 years later than most who compete in it

  • 14:30: What off-track training is like, including visualization techniques

  • 23:20: How he trained in the US for the Olympics but ended up competing for Argentina

  • 30:34: His ultimate path to the Olympics and what it was like being a part of the opening ceremonies

  • 37:00: What it takes mentally to prepare for the Olympics

  • 40:11: His Olympic performances

  • 46:37: What to take away from his message and story

  • 49:13: How he began as a professional motivational speaker

Notable Quotes

  • 3:13: “I’m not a great athlete. I got a lot of heart, but no body. I’m all slow twitch muscle, like Rudy.”

  • 6:04: (talking about Scott Hamilton winning a gold medal in 1984) “If that little guy can win, I can at least play. I’m going to be in the next Olympics, no matter what. I’ve just got to find a sport to play.”

  • 6:38: “I’ve got to find a sport that’s so tough, a sport that’s got so many broken bones in it, that there will be a lot of quitters. I just won’t quit. That’s how I’m going to shine.”

  • 13:10: “Anything that is a knee jerk reaction will get you into trouble. So, you have to fight yourself.”

  • 17:24: “I went to him and said, ‘Coach I had a clean run.’ And he goes, ‘Good. Now you know it’s possible.’”

  • 25:14: “I said, ‘Do whatever you need to do. Make me do whatever you have to. The goal is the make the Olympics.’”

  • 28:00: “If you’re going to be in competition, if you want to be the best, one of the things in human nature is that you need a rival.”

  • 33:47: “Four years later, when I actually walked into the (Olympic) stadium just like I’d imagined it, it was only 100 times better. It was awesome. The mind can’t tell the difference between something you vividly imagine with all your heart and all your soul and all your senses and all your passion. It can’t tell the difference between that and something that’s actually happening. That’s how you get more runs.”

  • 36:16: “The difference between good and great, qualifying and not qualifying is such a fine line. It’s so thin. It’s a thin line with massive distinction.”

  • 38:00: “Success is a decision.”

  • 45:27: “Him (the first guy he talked to about luge) telling me I was going to break some bones allowed me to put on some mental armor and I realized that this was going to be tough. This was going to be a war.”

  • 46:53: “Dreams do come true. I mean, what’s the chances that I would’ve made it?”










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