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Fail Until You Succeed

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Former queen of the mountain Nancy Holland is now the queen of motivation

    Nancy Holland was a stronger skier than her Olympic teammate, and friend, Nancy Green. Yet it was Green who won a gold in the Olympics and Holland who didn’t medal at all. Today, Holland loves to tell people why, hoping it will help them overcome their own fears and self-doubts.

    Holland was a world cup skier for six years. She competed in the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley and in the ’64 Olympics in Innsbruck as a member of the Canadian National Ski Team. She surprised an audience of business professionals last Thursday, during a presentation in the Caribou Room at Schweitzer Mountain; by saying in those days she didn’t have the self-confidence to be a winner. This from a woman at the top of her game, a top-ten seeded women’s skier for six years and the North American Champion in the giant slalom. In those days she was known as “The Queen of the Mountain,” but she called herself, “the other Nancy.” Today, she is her own person, and advises; “Do not say negative things about yourself no matter how you feel.”

    Holland was invited to the area by the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce to serve as a Grand Marshall in the annual Winter Carnival parade. Business Networking International (BNI), a group of local professionals and business people always on the lookout for ways to improve their business skills, seized the opportunity of Holland’s presence and asked her to speak at their conference on Schweitzer. Holland delivered even more than expected, and dazzled the audience with her energy, enthusiasm and confidence. Her main theme was the need to develop and maintain an enthusiasm about business and life in order to succeed.

    “Fail to succeed,” was a phrase she used. She also said, “each day we need to do something that scares us... just a little bit. We need to always step just slightly out of our comfort zone in order to improve and grow.” Her son, an Olympic ski coach, teaches this to his team and Holland believes the same imperative applies to all successful business people.

    “Business is just as competitive as World Cup sports,” she explained. “Maybe more. And it takes people who have the confidence to succeed even when things are down.”

    Holland believes the down times in life for everyone, not just athletes, gives them the chance to change, grow and improve. She talked of not being afraid of the down times, but to use them to step back and re-group in order to move on. The coaches of the Olympic teams her son works with do not look at how young skiers work when they are at their best, but instead analyze how they handle the downs. This is when change must take place in order to improve beyond current levels. Holland says the same is true in the business world. One must be willing to look at what has happened and learn form it during the tough times. “Decline is a healthy phase, and will bring change,” she repeated several times.

    It has only been in the last 14 years that Holland herself has managed to overcome many of those obstacles, and to motivate people as she does in her current career as a motivational speaker. “Part of my loud voice,” she quipped, “is nervousness about talking in front of groups. I never used to be able to do this.” She said she learned to grow due to the encouragement of her husband, Don. “He helped me realize I had something that was special; something to give.”

    And give she does. Her presentation is filled with energy and enthusiasm. “Goals are dreams fueled by enthusiasm,” she explained.

    “Even though its obvious she has moved on from her experiences as an Olympian, Holland still has fond memories of them. The games held in Squaw Valley were especially exciting for her, she said. It was the first time for an Olympic Village, and the participants had passes for special seating to all the events. When they had time, they could watch the other athletes. Besides the other skiing events Holland, initially trained in ballet, said she loved to watch the figure skating.

    Today it is an inspiration to listen to, and visit with, Nancy Holland. She is still a champion, but now she is a champion of her own life, teaching others how to be champions of theirs.

 

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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