Today I spoke with Devon Harris, a Military Officer turned 3-time Olympian and an original member of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team. Aside from being an athlete, Devon is also an International Motivational Keynote speaker, and Founder of the Keep On Pushing Foundation. With the Keep on Pushing Foundation, Devon, and everyone who supports this cause, came up with practical solutions to keep Jamaican school children from hunger. In turn, helping them learn better and giving them betters chance at succeeding in their lives after finishing school.
Let’s dive right in to Devon’s story and learn about how mindset and determination can lead us to our goals.
[00:01 – 07:26] Opening Segment
Devon is one of the founding members of the Jamaica National Bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta just after a very short period of training. He grew up in Kingston, which according to Devon, is definitely not one of the best places in Jamaica.
After he moved to New York and found success as an athlete, he went back to Kingston again to ask his former school’s principal about what the school’s current biggest challenge is. The principal’s answer? The kids at the school were hungry. This was what inspired Devon to found Keep On Pushing Foundation. He thought hungry kids will have a hard time learning, resulting to them not getting enough education, and resulting to them having a hard time getting on with life.
In this episode, Devon and I talk about his humble beginnings and how he developed that mindset that helped him succeed as an athlete and eventually reach his goals.
[07:27 – 22:33] The Journey to be a pro athlete
When he was a young kid, Devon admits that he’s also like one of those school kids that he’s helping in his home town through his foundation. The only difference that allowed him to have a winning mindset? He has a grandmother who’s a great storyteller whom Devon started living with since he was just seven months old. Devon’s grandmother told him a lot about soldiers and a lot of amazing things that they can do. Because of his grandmother’s stories, Devon got inspired to become a soldier, which eventually led him to his break to be discovered to have great potential as an athlete later on.
When Jamaica’s bob sledding team was just being formed, the people forming the team looked for athletes in the military. Because of his passion in sports, Devon’s Colonel then told him to go to the team trials. According to Devon, he went to the team trials, tried his darnest, to selected, and the rest is history.
If you’re wondering what Devon thinks help him made the Olympic team, this is his answer: his determination. In addition, he also did some visualization exercises. He wrapped his mind around what he’s trying to accomplish and get his body to feel as it would feel during the game.
Do you have any goals that you also want really badly? Try to visualize it too! It could definitely help you achieve it, just like Devon did.
[22:34 – 26:54] The Olympics
You probably won’t hear stories like this often but Devon shares that the first time their four-man team competed in a major bobsled competition was already at the Olympics. In addition, they had only really trained for a few months. Devon thinks this experience is truly crazy, and so, he shares with us three things running through his mind that first time he competed.
First, Devon thought that he’s there to compete and be his best. This made him give the best he could. Second, he admits to himself that he is learning still. Therefore, every time he’s not on track, Devon spends his time watching and trying to learn from other teams. Third, he felt in awe about everything happening. After all, it’s their team’s first time to compete and be with other Olympic athletes.
[26:55 – 36:59] The Bobsled Team
Devon also shares with us the different roles of each person in their team. There’s the driver, the break man, as well as the strategy for choosing the player who’s fit for that role in the team. Devon’s role? He was the driver. For Devon, what he loved best about being the driver is you get to have control. However, he shares that this doesn’t mean that you get to manhandle the sled, being the driver means you have to guide it. It requires total concentration, it’s a real exercise in patience.
To sum up his experience competing for the Olympics, Devon says that when he feels nervous, he knows he has a choice to either wilt or stand strong. He knows it’s up to him to decide to take charge in that moment. In life, not just in competitions, he says we all experience these moments too. And for Devon, what’s most important is we make a choice in that moment.
[37:00 – 43:38] The FOCUS FIVE Segment
The FOCUS FIVE are five questions I ask every guest on my show. Keep on listening to find out what book Devon gifts most often; who would he talk to if he can get an hour of any person living or dead, from the past or the present, and why; that one thing he believes but most people will disagree with; his morning routine; and lastly, where are the best places we can connect with him online. (See the links below for Devon’s social media links!)
“If you’re hungry, you can’t learn. If you’re not learning, then you can’t get educated and then you’re really behind the 8-ball of life.” – Devon Harris
“Hey, if it’s difficult, go do it. You might fail, but who knows?” – Devon Harris
“Whatever is behind you or in front of you, is totally and completely insignificant to whatever it is that’s inside of you. So I encourage you to keep on pushing.” – Devon Harris
Resources mentioned in the episode:
- Yes, I Can!: The Story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- Keep On Pushing Foundation
- Schedule a call with Hans
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