When you’re on top of the world after a major victory—say, an Olympic gold medal (or two)—it’s relatively easy to think positively. But David Wise has had his fair share of challenges surrounding his greatest achievements. Through his work on mental skills, though, he’s learned to view each setback as a chance to soar higher.
Most recently, this past May, he took a bad landing during a run in Austria and broke his femur. David allowed the filmmaker who was there to document his flips and spins, Justin Burgan, to focus his lens instead on the unfolding drama of uncertainty and recovery.
Doing so made the transformation of obstacle into opportunity even more resonant for David. Through sharing his story, he found a new voice, speaking to all types of athletes and other individuals coping with challenges of their own. (You can watch the resulting videos here in a series he calls “Overcoming”; don’t worry, he doesn’t include footage of the crash itself, a decision he explains around the 11:57 mark.)
David joined us today to discuss:
- His passion for freestyle skiing, and why he at first gave up on his Olympic dreams before going on to become the first (and second) gold medalist in the half-pipe (3:00)
- The way athletes in his sport aim to prevent serious injuries even as they take seemingly risky leaps through the air (5:32)
- Why his first words after his recent crash were “that was so dumb” (7:29)
- What he feels when he watches the video of the accident, and why he keeps doing so (12:00)
- Why he’s actually glad his children have seen him struggling during his recovery (16:34)
- Why he believes happiness is an outcome, but joy is a choice (17:52)
- How he’s gotten through the daily grind of rehab, one day and one small victory at a time (19:44)
- Why he almost quit the sport, before he began working on the mental side of training and competition (22:23)
- What playing the banjo and learning French have to do with his recovery process (30:49)
- Why his biggest advice for other injured athletes revolves around gratitude, as well as what he calls “high hopes and low expectations” (38:38)
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