Olympian Devon Harris’s story is impressive. Devon competed in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games as one of the founding members of the Jamaican four-man bobsled team. Devon and his teammates were admired worldwide as underdogs and their story was the inspiration to the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings.”
Devon recently spoke at our Choice Hotels International Owners Council convention in Las Vegas. Devon told us to “keep on pushing” which was his metaphor for the all-important start of a bobsled race when the team must push hard on the sled for maximum performance. Devon grew up in a ghetto in Kingston, Jamaica. There he learned that he couldn’t wait for the perfect time to begin achieving his goals, instead he had to start by using the tools that were available. Devon said that his bobsled team trained by pushing a rock-filled sled on an airport runway in Jamaica. It wasn’t until just months before their first Olympics that the team touched a real bobsled. The lesson on achieving your goals, Devon said, was not to worry about flawless training and expensive tools because, “when you start you suck anyway.” Just concentrate on pushing against yourself and continue to refine your life’s vision. Devon urged us to resist worrying about perfection – excellence should be our goal.
I can personally attest to how inspirational Devon’s legacy became. Back in the winter of 1994, my wife Trisha and I were vacationing in the tiny resort town of Port Antonio, Jamaica where we joined an impromptu gathering of locals on the street corner in front of our hotel. We gathered around a small black and white TV and drank Red Stripe beer while we wildly cheered on the Jamaican bobsled team during the 1994 Winter Olympics in faraway Lillehammer Norway. I’ll never forget the pride on the faces of those happy Jamaicans. When I told Devon this story he seemed genuinely touched. Today, Devon travels the world as a motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, and author. The Jamaican bobsled program that Devon began went on to five more Winter Olympics and continues to compete internationally today.