Dan Gable: “Life Lessons from an Olympic Hero” | Talks at Google

By Stevie Adams / in , , , , , , , , , /

SPEAKER 1: Thank you, everybody,
for coming here today. Before I invite
our guest on stage, I want to start
off with a quote. “We will scour the Eastern
bloc to find someone who can take down Dan Gable.” That’s what the coach of the
1972 Soviet Olympic wrestling team said about today’s
Talks at Google guest. Dan is from Waterloo,
Iowa, and quickly got into wrestling
growing up, always looking to train, to exercise, taking
the layman’s concept of what we know as Rocky Balboa
to drastic new levels. Unlike most athletes,
Dan didn’t wrestle to overcome his opponent. He in many ways wrestled
to overcome himself. Never intimidated because it
was himself he was challenging, every match, every
run, every chin-up, trying to push himself beyond
what he knew was possible. Teammates would have to carry
Dan off of the wrestling mats after practice. So, go figure. He won a lot, all of the
time, every single time through high school and
then the NCAA championships, setting new records and amazing
the world, which followed him. And then one match, his last
college wrestling match, he lost. And he learned so
much from that defeat that he went on to become
America’s Olympic hero who went through the
Olympics unscored on and then continued
as Team USA wrestling coach, coaching eight medalists,
four of which were gold. Dan also became the head coach
of the University of Iowa, leading the Hawkeyes to 15
NCAA championships, crowning 45 champions and 152 All-Americans. At one point, almost every
single wrestler who won the NCAA championships during
one year was one of Dan’s. Needless to say, October 25
was Dan Gable Day in Iowa. So fellow Googlers,
please join me in welcoming Dan Gable, who will
share the lessons he’s learned. [APPLAUSE] DAN GABLE: Wow. I thought you were really smart. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: There’s not a
teleprompter, I promise. DAN GABLE: I mean,
that was really good. And I didn’t realize
that was there. SPEAKER 1: Lamar, I said to
hide it when Dan came on board. DAN GABLE: Oh my gosh. That was pretty good. I’m usually not a guy
that likes to sit. Too antsy. Because last time I didn’t
really get ready for a match, I lost it. That was about the
only time, though. But there was reasons. And you have to kind of
diagnose that pretty well to figure out the reasons. But obviously, it was something
that you never get over. But you’ve got to get on. And that’s one of
these things for me that it actually
made me realize– most people thought I was
really good up to that point. When you win and go seven
straight years without a loss and your record’s 181 and
0, people think you’re good. Obviously, my opponent
didn’t think that, or he took on the challenge. But what happened was then
I was able to really go to a new level. And so you wonder how some of
these people at a certain level of efficiency– so you
can take your own life and you can look at it
and say, well, you know, I’m at this level, and I’ve
been working all my life to get to this level. But how do I get to that level? And maybe you can do it
quickly, or maybe it’s going to take time. If I had won that
match, it would’ve taken me a longer time
than by losing that match. That was the first
time I was ever able to experience
something of that magnitude in a sport that actually made my
efficiency go up really quick. I believe– I say this. For seven years, from a
sophomore in high school to my last match in college,
I was on a trend like this. Seven years, it took from
this point to that point. But within one year after that
loss, I took those seven years and I put it all in one gain. So whatever it [INAUDIBLE]
the steep went like that. And in one year,
I gained as much as I gained in seven years. So I kind of figured that
out through the feelings that I had, but I also
looked at things later on that made me,
like, look at a guy like Michael Jordan
for basketball. And you know, he was one
of the greats three years into his NBA. But he all of a sudden jumped
to another level of success. And I don’t know
exactly why he did that. It might be the
10,000 hour rule. It might be a lot
of different things. You know, I look at
that 10,000 rule– there was a book out on that–
and I did figure out my hours for wrestling. And I realized that
10,000 hours was already accomplished before
I ever wrestled a college wrestling match. So to me, there was
a lot of time put in. It just so happens
that my high school coach, who is a famous
high school coach, kind of realized that
this kid coming in was maybe more of
a leader than most. And because of that, he did
things that you can’t do now. I don’t know exactly what
you can and can’t do, but a couple things I
know you probably can’t do is you probably can’t give
a first-year high school student a key to the school. And that’s what he
did for me, because he knew that I was going to be the
first guy there in the morning opening the door. And he knew that if he
didn’t give me that key, he had to be there at 6
o’clock to open it up. So it actually gave
him an opportunity to have another leader in
the program besides himself. And he was at a point
and time in his life where maybe he didn’t have
the energy or whatever it was, and he actually lived
quite a ways away. So you know, it was
one of those things that he gave me the
opportunity to help the team. And really, I was a young kid. And because I was a
young kid, I really hadn’t had that respect yet. So it was kind of–
he took a chance. SPEAKER 1: So I
heard a few things that I think the audience
would love to dig into. It sounded like you were given
a great opportunity early on, the keys to a wrestling room. You had mentors. DAN GABLE: Keys to the school. SPEAKER 1: Keys to the school. You had mentors. You had the right
people around you. I also heard, whether
it’s how many hours you’re working, that Michael Jordan
moment when you’re learning, just significantly increase– DAN GABLE: Curve? SPEAKER 1: The curve, thank you. I’m curious, like,
which one of– trying to extract lessons
here that we could all take with us as the curve,
the right people around you. What are some other
key lessons do you think that in the next 40
minutes, we should talk about. In addition to those, maybe
if we just have three or four, and then we’ll hone in on
those, break them down, see how you learned it. And hopefully, we can take
it with us when we’re done. DAN GABLE: Yeah, I think
one of the key things is really what you’re born into. And you know, I
think that it’s sad that some people are born
into a situation that is almost impossible, at least
in they’re younger years. And so maybe that’s a good
place to start, with mentors. And so everybody here
can help the world. Everybody, just because
you affect somebody. Whether it be your children,
whether it be your wife, whether it be girlfriends,
whether it be your friends, whether it be– whoever it is. Or in another way. I mean, this company affects
a whole lot of people, unbelievably. And so for me, it wasn’t the
perfect situation, my mom and dad. But they did look out for
their kids, which was me and a sister that was
four years older than me. So I was born into
a good situation. It wasn’t perfect,
and I doubt if there’s a perfect situation out there. But it definitely
was a good one. And so they probably
realized that they had more than they can handle with
me, and so they gave me more opportunities at a young age. Like, OK. This kid’s got a lot of energy. You We want to teach
him some things away from the home
besides schooling, because I really hadn’t
started school yet. So they had the
local YMCA, and they had good people that
were working there, and they stuck me in programs
that actually helped teach me how to be a competitor, helped
teach me how to actually have social skills, helped teach
me how to actually have my first job. You know, because I actually
got a job within the YMCA. And I only stayed at the YMCA
from the years four to 12. SPEAKER 1: How did you go about
that theme of acknowledging your current situation,
what you would have a competitive advantage on,
what could you make the most of, and surround yourself
with the right people? So it sounded like you took
advantage of everything that you had. What about when you were
a coach for the Hawkeyes and your wrestlers were training
to become Olympic athletes, NCAA champions? How would you help them
surround themselves with the right people? DAN GABLE: Well, you know,
I’m a guy that communicates. And I had to learn the hard way. And so there’s not
a lot that’s going to go on without me actually
communicating something, whether it’s been
said before or not. I don’t trust one
of those things. And the reason why
I don’t trust is because we’ll shoot ahead
a little bit when I was 15. And so I’m walking to school. And as I’m walking
to school, there’s this kid that was
in our neighborhood, but I had never walked to
school with him before. And I knew a little bit
about his reputation. And his reputation wasn’t
a real good reputation. He’d been in kind of
trouble quite a bit. But we’re walking to school, and
he just happens to say to me, he said, hey, Gable. I think he was a year
or so older than me. And he just said,
you know, you’re doing pretty good in
this sport of wrestling. That’s good. That’s good. You know? And he says, you know, you
got a really cute sister. And then he told me about
three or four other sentences that were, like, not
so good, you know? But being a young
guy, what do you say? You know, it’s just– it was
something that stayed with me, but I actually never brought
it out until after the fact. And so it was probably six
weeks later when after the fact happened. And it was in a car ride back
from a fishing cabin 100 miles from home with my mom and dad,
because my sister wasn’t– she didn’t show up on
time that morning. And because of that, all of
a sudden, I’m riding home. By the way, he murdered her. He broke into the house
and raped and murdered her. So on the way home, I’m thinking
about that conversation. And I got a mom
and dad that are– a mom that is hysterical
in the front seat. My dad, he’s– and I said, all
of the sudden, I say to them, I say, I think I might
know something about this. And it’s like, my dad–
how could you know something about this up here? And so he kind of
swerved the car over. Went out, opened
the back seat up, kind of picked me
up, kind of shook me. What do you mean, you
might know something? I said, Dad, I
don’t know for sure, but this is a conversation I
had with this guy six weeks ago, walking to school. You know, at first my
dad was– he actually cracked me across
the face and he said, why didn’t you say, something? And I said, Dad, I just
thought it was boy talk. But it was actually a lead. And they brought him
in for questioning, and he actually admitted
everything right there. And he was a young guy. But you know, for me,
it was like my family, what it did for
my family, it just was going to tear this family
apart, the family of three that’s left. And so for me, it was like, I
didn’t really feel the guilt, but I felt more
like the motivation. Like, I knew that Mom and Dad,
I needed to keep them together because they were just fighting
and fighting and fighting, and they continued to do that. And I moved out of my bedroom,
and one night I got up and I just looked at them
in the middle of the night when they were, like,
fighting and yelling. And I think it took a
really strong statement to get me out of bed. And I think the statement
was really simple for my mom. She just said to my
dad that I wished I would have raised
her to be– I think she said the word whore. You know, and then she
would have gave in to him. And you know, she fought
for her life to not give in, which I commend her for that. But that got me out
of the bed, and that made me realize that something
had to be taking place. So a 15-year-old kid decides
to move into her room, because that room
is kind of haunted ever since we moved into it. So when I moved into that
room, that night, I actually went in there and told them,
and a little bit later they just kind of snuck in
there and looked at me. And they looked at me
like I was sleeping, but I wasn’t sleeping,
I can tell you. But it kind of started
things changing. And the fact that
I would wrestle for her and for them and
for everybody else that was pushing for me. But you know, it gave
me a lot of motivation on such a negative aspect. But that’s just one thing. Because adversity, you know,
I’m going to talk– adversity, it happens to all of us. I mean, it could happen
today, something. And I used to talk about
adversity in two aspects. Adversity, you take it
on, or you take it on. And I think we can probably
find something in our life that we either are
doing something, or we’re not about something
that we should be doing. And I really only had that line
for a short period of time. The short period of time
eliminates the second part. Adversity, you take it on. There’s no or in adversity. And it’s easier said than done. Especially in Ls and
Ds, life and death. Wins and losses,
that’s another story. Yeah, you’ve got to
take that on too. But there’s two
levels of grief there. And obviously, life
and death is the one that’s a little bit more
difficult, a lot more difficult. But the
winning and the losing also can be a pretty–
can hit you pretty hard. So I go seven years,
I have a loss. And that’s going to hit you. And that’s why I was able
to go to that next level. I’ve been hit hard at
special times in my life. Record performance times. I mean, seven years. Finally have one
more match, only person ever going to be
undefeated in high school and college, and
I get distracted. I don’t wrestle
up to my ability. And had I wrestled
up to my ability and done everything
right, I can handle that. But when you don’t do it
right and you get involved, you know that you’re better,
that’s harder to take. So then as a coach,
wouldn’t you know it again? Go almost 10 years without a
loss at the NCAA championship from a team point of view. And then record
performance, we lose. But you’ve got to
analyze those losses. You’ve got to analyze
the death, you know? And obviously, the
communication aspect for me has never been a
problem anymore. When I hear something,
unless it’s just dead silence, you
know, that you’ve got to keep this secret because
of no major reason or a really good reason, you know,
you’ve got to communicate. But you know, the wins and
losses after seven years and after 10 years,
they hit you hard. And you really go back and you
figure out what took place. Go back 365 days a year. And I actually analyzed
every day up to that loss. And even though the bottom line
was the kid got inside my head. He used tactics. I never even really paid much
attention to him on that loss until he came to the
tournament, and all of a sudden at a press conference like
this, he shot his mouth off. Which I absorbed it. And my focus went
from me to him. And because it went
to him, I wasn’t worrying about my skills. I was worrying about his skills. And when you go into a
competition, wins and losses, business and not
business, you’ve got to focus on
what you’re good at. And when you focus
on what he’s good at, that means he’s going
do something to you, and you’re not going to be
at the best of your ability. So that was pretty amazing. But my team loss, my team
loss, this was my team, it was because we were
celebrating too much and because we
just thought it was going to be automatic because
you did this, you did this. Nothing’s automatic, and
there’s always things that you can change. And when you see something
that needs changed, and if you let it go in
your life or your business or your family, every
day you let it go, there’s a term called
the longer, the longer. And that term means that the
longer you let it go upfront, the longer it’s going to take
on the back to really get back. Even thought as
soon as we lost, I thought we’d get
right back on top. Well, it took us
five years to go from– we went two,
two, and three, and went all way
down to, like, six. And then we started
back up again. But it took all that time, just
because it took all that time to tear us down. Now you’d have to analyze
how long you’ve been– like, say you’re in a marriage,
and you’ve got to look at it, and it’s not going so good. You’ve got to kind
of look and see how long you’ve been
not being so good, and don’t think it’s going
to change right around. You almost have to build it up
as long as you tore it down. But you’re always hoping
for the quickness, but the quickness
won’t be stable. And you need that consistency. When that consistency is
there– I mean, I’ll tell you, it’s 42 years now with my wife. 42 years of marriage. [APPLAUSE] Same wife. I don’t need that. [LAUGHTER] Because it might
be– I don’t know. But if I don’t keep working
at it, it’s not going be 43, I can tell you that. It’s not going to be there
just because it’s there. So you know, when
it was shaky, it was because we weren’t doing
the right things, mostly. We weren’t doing
the right things. One of the craziest things
that– one of the best things I ever did in my
life– and I know it’s not good for a lot
of you guys or girls– is that 1987, which was 13,
16, 29 years– I don’t know. Can you add? SPEAKER 1: The
engineers, come on. DAN GABLE: Anyway– [LAUGH] You know, I came home late. I had to get up early. So then I came home,
and I said, never again am I going to go to excess. So it’s been since
1987 that in one day, I’ve never had more than
two beers in my life. If I hadn’t made that
vow and kept that vow, I wouldn’t have said 42 years. There is no way,
because that would have been gone a long time ago. That would have been gone. It’s just something that
for me– and again, I’ve got to work on that too,
because these guys are trying to get me out
drinking tonight over here, and I don’t know. SPEAKER 1: It’s the
wrestlers in business? DAN GABLE: Actually, I
get 32 ounces of beer. You know, because if you
say two beers, I mean, some guy gives you
a quart of beer, then he gives you
a gallon of beer. You know, so you’ve
got to actually define it a little bit. And I’ve stayed
that [INAUDIBLE]. And then you can’t
also use two days. You can’t go in a row, like, OK. It’s 11:58, you drink two beers. And then it’s 12:02 next day,
you can drink two more beers. And then you’ve got
a bigger bottle. I’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to be
right exact and know. And you know, now
that I’m actually getting a little bit
older, even though I don’t claim I’m over 29
on the workout machines, because they always say age,
weight, all that kind of stuff. I always say 29, and I
always win the damn thing over the 29-year-olds. I’m always ending up the
first guy whatever I went. 15 minutes at this level. And then they say,
it’s how you rate. And every time I jump
off, if it’s number one, you know, I jump off. It’s number two, I’ve got
to go back and do it again. But you know, that’s
just the way I think. That’s the way I think. But obviously, adversity has
been something that I hate. I don’t like it at all. A lot of people thrive on it. I like prevention of adversity. The more adversity I
have, the more I get down. But some people can
thrive on a little bit. I’ve got a couple buddies
that actually, that’s the only way they can
get good is if they have something go bad on them. But I like good, good,
good, good, good, you know? Even though it
hasn’t been perfect. And I don’t think there
will be a perfect situation, on this earth anyway. So it doesn’t mean you
can’t strive for it. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t
have won that match. But if I would have
won that match, the way I wrestled
in that match, I probably wouldn’t
have won the Olympics like I won the Olympics. You know, maybe I would
have won the Olympics. But you know, I won them
and nobody scored on me. I mean, I think the
last 21 matches I had, Olympic competition and
Olympic games, was 130 to one and 12 pins out of 21 matches,
with nobody scoring on me. You know, that’s like
domination, kind of. Except for that one
point, you know? Would you give us
any suggestions on how to find the lessons
from adversity without having those catastrophic losses? Being able to think that
way, although you’re not in such a situation? Proactively hit that curve
you were talking about? I don’t think it’s possible. No. I just don’t think you
can be smooth sailing. Because longer the
longer thing again. When I look at that
coaching thing, I was breaking down for
at least five years. And by that, I mean we lost it
in ’87, so in the start of ’83, I was not doing all the
best decisions I can make. And the funny thing
was, in ’83, we won. In ’84, we won. ’85, we won. ’86, we won. So Google, I don’t even
know what Google is. But I asked you about it. I mean, I knew what it was. [LAUGHTER] And I love your answer
about making things easier for everybody. Because that’s kind of
why I was a good coach. If you’re just a good wrestler,
you know, there’s ways to win. But as you go higher of a level,
once you go from high school to college, then on
to your Olympic level, you’re not going to win the
Olympics unless you have both hard work and smart work. And so that
efficiency of Google, of trying to make things easier,
to get you access and so on, that’s like a wrestling match. I mean, I personally kept
getting better all the time. And all of the sudden, instead
of struggling to score, I could score quicker,
easier, because the skills and the techniques
were getting better. I mean, for me, I got this
guy over here, Nick Gallo over here, that I used to
train with him all the time. He didn’t like this
hard, tough nosed style of wrestling that I had. He liked slick, quick. He didn’t want to get tired. You know, for me, I had to
take and learn some of that. I don’t mind getting
tired, because I never knew I got tired. And so instead of
being really efficient, I just struggled–
not struggled, but I would get to it
and finish and win, but that’s at that lower level. As I got higher, I
had to actually know how to be more efficient. And I’ve seen five people
try to jump Nick Gallo, and none of them could
get a hold of him because it was like a noodle. [LAUGHTER] He’d grab and he’d– [SWOOSHING] So things like that kind
of– you’ve got to be– OK, so I’m going to the woods,
and I love hard work. And I take my– nowadays,
I take my chainsaw. The old days, you’d take an ax. But I’ll tell you what. I run out of gas, my
engine breaks down, and I can’t cut the trees down,
I still have my ax with me. So I’ve got my efficiency. I’m going to do it. But if I have to do
hard work and I’ve got to get a certain
thing done, I’m going to have a backup plan. And a lot of people
don’t have backup plans. And in your life, a lot of
times, especially with Google, I mean, you’re just
constantly wanting to do things efficiently
and everything. You know, sometimes you’ve
got to do a little hard work to become efficient. And you’ve got to stay
in that hard work. And sometimes you’ve
got to work through that to get to that great
ability to dominate. So that’s kind of my
relation with Google. Wrestling, there’s
so many disciplines that you have to master. Otherwise, they show
right in front of you. Everybody sees them. If you get tired in
a wrestling match, there’s two people out there. And if you see that
everybody’s going to– all your coach,
your teammates, all the fans are
going to see who’s going to be tired, who’s
not going to be tired. Because they’re going to watch
shoestring tricks, and that’s why they’ve eliminated those. They don’t even put
shoestrings a lot of times, or they make you tape them. Or if you’re going
out of bounds, and you want to go back in,
and they take the big walk around the circle to come
back in to get their breath. You know, stuff like that. Or just in life, say you
have to make a weight class. Or you want to be
healthy in life. Because I’ll tell you what. As you get older, it’s really
critical to stay healthy. If you think you’re going
to make it your whole life by not staying healthy,
you can do all this and do all that, I’m telling
you, you’re kidding yourself. You’re kidding yourself. So you know, for
wrestling a lot of times, we have to master
nutrition and conditioning. And they go hand in hand, and
you have to read about it, and you have to learn about
it, and you have to understand. I’m surprised that
some of the kids that I got to me
from high schools, even though they’re
top recruits, had no idea about the
scientific rules of, you know, like, nutrition or
losing weight properly. You know, again, there’s a lot
of– I call them disciplines. But of course, you also
have to know techniques. You have to be updated on them. You have to know your tactics. You have to know your
opponent a little bit. And so you know, it’s just
what builds your mind, what builds your mind. Because that’s going
to decide, your mind, is whether you’re
going to win and lose or how much life
you’ve got, or you’re going to be dead quicker. A lot of it, whether
it’s– I mean, there’s freak things
that happen out there. But you know, it’s amazing. One of my good
friends just never stopped partying after college. He partied all through college. Did really well. He was, you know,
a genetic-type guy. But he just kept on doing
that his whole life. But about 10 years
ago, you know, when he’s carrying
his oxygen tank around with him because he
smoked all the time and he drank all the time– and
he gave up smoking maybe seven years ago, I think I was. Eight years ago. And so he had 20% of one
lung seven years ago. He’s still got 20% of one lung. It’s pretty amazing. I mean, today’s a
little different. My mom and dad smoke,
drink pretty good, but the smoking part–
but there wasn’t really any information out there. And you know, they
lived till 67 and 73. But, you know, I got a
ways to go to get there. I’m 29. [LAUGHTER] But it’s one of these things
that, I never smoked, really. Maybe as a kid. I shouldn’t say that. But I never inhaled. I just thought it was cool
to smoke Swisher Sweets. Swisher Sweets when I was in
sixth grade and seventh grade. Sixth grade, I think. Fishing. But that was just
a temporary thing. But it’s just one
of those things. And like I said, two-beer
limit probably helped me a lot. And that’s just one
of those things. But I do have my drawbacks. I just want you to know. There’s no perfect
situation out there. Mountain Dew. Mountain Dew. SPEAKER 1: That’s the drawback? DAN GABLE: Yeah, I just–
somebody’s got to kick my butt, get me off that. But nobody can
kick my butt, so– [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: Nick, do you
want to challenge that? NICK GALLO: I know
all his weaknesses. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. DAN GABLE: None. On the mat. SPEAKER 1: So thank
you so much for sharing your life story, your
perspective on just accomplishing anything. So I feel like we have
so many pieces of wisdom from everything
you just explained. I’d like to invite all of you
to join us, ask a few questions. Before I do that, though, Dan
did author his autobiography. Do you want to tell
us about this book? Which all of you
can buy back there, and then we’ll move to
Q&A. Should we buy it? DAN GABLE: Unless you
want to get pinned. [LAUGHTER] No. Yeah a lot of people
have bought it. But it’s one of those things
that if you like books that you can read a chapter
and set it down, and come back to it, that’s fine. This is the book. I mean, it’s like every
chapter’s a new chapter. And there’s a lesson
in every chapter. In fact, I got a new book
coming out in about a year. But I took a lesson
out of each chapter, and have a chapter on those
lessons in the next one. And this book actually
says a lot of good things about not just
wrestling by any means. About family, about my
best friends growing up. And there’s a lesson
with each one of them. Because I didn’t get
to be who I am by just me and my mentors
of my mom and dad. It took a lot of help from a
lot of people along the way, whether it be at the Y or
whether it be my coaches or teachers, or my friends. My friends. I mean, my friends were,
like, they looked out for me, because there was this crazy
kid that was a fanatic somewhat. And so my friends taught
me about having a beer, and they taught me about girls. SPEAKER 1: My favorite lesson
that I got from this book was when you were
coaching Barry, and how you empowered him to
be an NCAA national champion. You didn’t scare him to it. Barry was not always–
he was sometimes into it, sometimes not. He wasn’t sure if
he really wanted to move through and put all
the dedication into winning the national championships. And Dan was just–
by supporting him, empowering him to accomplish
what no one else was able to in his weight class. DAN GABLE: Well, Barry
Davis you’re talking about, who was a three-time
NCAA champion. Well, he ran off on me,
and I had to find him. Most people, when
somebody runs off, they don’t even bother
to go find them. Well, I’m pretty much of
a Sherlock Holmes expert, and so I had a lot of that
training when I was growing up. And so I always got a
lot of people to help me. It wasn’t just me
looking for somebody. But Barry, I had to find him. And I got a little lucky there. And I think the more prepared
you are, the luckier you get. So I did luckily find him
at a point in his career which would have made a
big difference in his life. And you know, I also,
when I did find him, pure emotion happened
between me and him. He was going to run
off, and I actually broke down crying a little bit. But I never pressured
him to come back. But he wanted to. I mean, he was just
waiting for me to find him, but he was hiding. And I got lucky,
and I found him. So it’s like, wow. Some things are like karma. They’re just like,
how’d that happen? But Barry is– you know, he’s
still working on it today. I mean, even though he’s a coach
somewhere and a mentor of kids. And that’s how I measure people. So I measure people
by not really how they did with me
back 20 years ago, 30 years ago, whenever it is. I kind of measure people, like,
where are they at right now? And you know, that’s,
to me, more important. And the ones that have
really gone on and do well, then I’m really proud of them. And if they take
care of their family and if they’ve stayed
within our profession. Like, you just don’t
let it go totally. You live on it. Because you know what? It’s more about people having
these things to look up to. And it’s like, it can be
gone tomorrow, you know? But it’s like, will
you really be gone, or are you going to live on? And are people going to care? You know, that type of thing. And so for me, it’s like, I
want to forever live, you know? Even though I’m
not on this earth. And if I can do that, that means
I’ve touched a lot of people, and I’ve given a lot
of people a chance to be a little bit better
with their own lives. And so like I said,
family of four. I’m the only one that’s alive. Now it’s a family at 21. And we talk about that
a lot in this book. And that 21 motivates me. It’s why I’m here, for my
sport and for my family. For my sport and my family. And it’s going to be
good for both of them, me being on a
Google Talk, right? SPEAKER 1: Yeah, absolutely. DAN GABLE: I mean, is this going
to actually go out to people? SPEAKER 1: Your call. DAN GABLE: Huh? SPEAKER 1: You can decide later. DAN GABLE: Oh, wow. SPEAKER 1: We can edit it. We could take out the
part of you beating up Nick, and whatever you want. DAN GABLE: Well,
actually, Nick is a guy that has scored some
quick takedowns on me, because he’s slick. And you know what? I had to learn. SPEAKER 1: You OK with us
putting that on YouTube? DAN GABLE: Of course. Nick Gallo? SPEAKER 1: All right. DAN GABLE: He already beat my
guy in the national finals, so I can give him some credit. SPEAKER 1: So we have
a question over here. Thank you. AUDIENCE: Hey, Dan. How’s it going? Thanks so much for
your words of wisdom. You touched a little
bit on nutrition. I’m wondering if you have any
recommendations for resources for understanding nutrition
that are your favorite resources for understanding nutrition? DAN GABLE: Well, I
usually like to read books that are directly
related with wrestling, but that’s probably
not for the normal. But because you have to
be in superior condition in wrestling, they’re
probably pretty good. I used to have– I
think it’s called an encyclopedia of health. But it was involved
with wrestling. But I tell you, there’s
so much there, and so easy access to get it to, I mean,
you just go online, I think. Now here’s the thing. Here’s the thing with it. And again, there’s so
much that isn’t good. So you’ve got to
go, like, to really a knowledgeable resource. Because people are
always trying to make money, and a lot of that
stuff isn’t for real. So you’ve just got to go
to the general knowledge and go from there. AUDIENCE: Do you have,
like, a top one, two, or three
recommendations in terms of maintaining good nutrition? DAN GABLE: Just
interview me long enough. But actually, I
think for me, it’s the scientific
point, and not just the made-up type of things. So I really– I wouldn’t
say that– if you see something that
looks easy, you go back to the
actual science of it. SPEAKER 1: So are
you gluten-free? DAN GABLE: Hm? SPEAKER 1: Are you gluten-free? Have you heard of
this Paleo diet? DAN GABLE: I’m just a
general science guy. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: Find the
right scientists. DAN GABLE: No, I’m serious. I’m a general science guy. I don’t go for these fads. SPEAKER 1: One
question over here. AUDIENCE: Hey. So you were talking
about adversity a lot, and I was wondering if you
have any personal experiences or tips or tricks you
have when you’re competing and you’re not performing the
way you wanted to perform, and you weren’t doing your best? Do you have a trick to get
yourself to do, again, what you want to be doing mid-match? DAN GABLE: Well, for me, anytime
I’m experiencing something that I don’t like, I
go the healthy route. And that means I go to the gym. Or that means I go
to the wrestling mat. Some of the worst times
in my life– and you could have laid there
and just keep suffering, but I actually got up
and went to the gym. And I called somebody up to
get a wrestling match in. Or even during the days when
my sister was first murdered, it was like, what do you do? Everybody came over
to this one house, and everybody was just
in this one house. And all they did was just kind
of look at each other and talk. And I had to get out
and do some exercise. I think exercise is one of the
best things that can actually get you in a different frame
of mind, at least temporarily. At least temporarily, it will
make you feel a little better. And I know that I take
it right on again. I take it right on. And that’s one of the ways
that I’ve been able to do it. AUDIENCE: Also, any
mid-match mentalities? You’re in the middle of a match. DAN GABLE: Oh my gosh. If you have to think
during a wrestling match, you’re in trouble. [LAUGHTER] But I’m going to tell
you what I do sometimes. I have had to do it. And I talk myself into
performing at a higher level. I can remember, I
went in overtime once. And I knew I didn’t
perform during the match. It was kind of a hang-on
match, and I never do that. And so when I was
in the corner, I was just kind of talking myself
into– I got a higher level that I normally compete at. In fact, my athletes
actually, some of them, to get their game face on,
wanted me to slap them a lot. And back in the days– I hadn’t
coached for a long time– back in those days, you
could get away with it, as long as they told
you you could do it, and their mom and dad
told you you could do it. But now, today,
they can tell you, and you’ve got to have
a signed agreement, and the parents can
tell you, you’ve got to get a signed agreement. And then you’ve got
to go get a lawyer and make sure all
this stuff works. So it was a little
different than today. But I can remember,
I’ve sometimes had to pull a trick or
two out of your hat. And usually, if you have a
tremendous reputation going into that, you can pull a
few tricks out of your hat and get away with it. But you don’t want to have to
count on it too much today. AUDIENCE: Thanks so much. DAN GABLE: Thank you. SPEAKER 1: Please. AUDIENCE: Hey, thanks,
Coach, for coming out. I have to say, I appreciate
your comment about Mountain Dew. I actually gave up
soda when I first started cutting in
the eighth grade, and I haven’t had a sip since. I want to say it’s like 2004. So that’s all you’ve got to do. I can’t say I took the same
route on beers, though. DAN GABLE: Oh, you’ve
had more beers? AUDIENCE: A couple
more than that. DAN GABLE: Oh. Does it get you
in trouble or not? AUDIENCE: No, not at all. DAN GABLE: OK. You’re a good drinker. I wasn’t. AUDIENCE: My
question for you was, I think we really appreciate
your story of adversity and working through
that yourself. But as a coach, how
do you approach maybe your athletes,
your wrestlers who are going through adversity, how
do you, instead of approaching it from your own head,
get out of your head and inside your athlete’s
head to help them through it? How do you approach that? DAN GABLE: Well, the
number one thing, you’ve got to develop
some kind of a respect. And that’s on an everyday basis. And so over time, they
will look up to you. It’s just like a parent. There’s no difference from a
standpoint that if your kids just don’t– if you don’t treat
them right and don’t do things right, you’re going to
have a lot tougher times. So it’s a daily thing that
they all of a sudden see that they know that
you really care, and that you’re working
harder than they are. That’s a real key thing. And not necessarily
just during the match or during the
practice, but forever. It’s just that whatever they’re
doing in terms of their two hours of hard work, you’re
putting in 10 hours of work, or whatever. You know, that’s another thing. Some people don’t
like to take home what they have to take home. They like to leave it there,
then come back and get it. I’m just going to tell you. I’ve been one of these guys that
I’ve been able to take it home. I’ve been able to
take it home with me. And if I bring it home and it’s
not good, then that’s not good. If I bring it home and
share it and the family is on your side, which
my family is on my side. That’s of the key things. I said four, they
were all on my side. The 21, including me,
they’re all on my side. And a lot of it is because
of the amount of success too that you’re having. If you’re doing all this and
it’s just not successful, and it’s not good, then you
won’t have those people on. So I don’t know where I
went with that, but anyway, didn’t I meet you in
the bathroom today? [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: For context, we
were washing our hands. [LAUGHTER] Yes sir, you did. SPEAKER 1: I love that we have
a handful of wrestlers here. I want to save a time for
people to buy books and give autographs. We’ll finish right
after this question. DAN GABLE: No,
they’ve got two more. SPEAKER 1: Two more. DAN GABLE: Three more, actually. AUDIENCE: Hey Dan. So what fascinates me
about successful athletes is not getting to the top. It’s how long they
can stay at the top. And I’d like to hear
a little bit more from you about what
drove you or what motivated you to
continue to get better after so many years of success. DAN GABLE: Well, I
really do believe that if you don’t
have a lot of success, you’re going to
fall off somewhere, and you’re not going
to keep that drive. And I do feel that the
drive from the success really helped me. And at the crucial times of–
I had all this winning, then I had a loss, that’s
a major adversity. But it’s just that you
have so much success, you know what that
feeling’s like. And when you don’t have it,
it’s kind of devastating. So I think you do have to
be successful a lot to be able to sustain it, sustain it. It’s one of these
things, you get up there. I think I say that my low point
is like at most people’s peaks. And because by that, I mean
when I drop down a little bit, you know, it’s still higher
than almost everybody else in my work ethic or
my smartness for my sport. And on a daily basis, when
you’re up at that level. You’ve got to have–
you can’t stay up there. I don’t like to
use the word can’t. I shouldn’t say that. But you know, it’s
like, you still have to have what’s called– and
again, this is really critical, and I can’t believe I
haven’t pointed this out– because this, you have to
have what’s called recovery. And people say, I’m going
to go fishing once a month or once a year. That’s going to recover
me for the year. Or I’m going to go do
something, and I’ll be ready to go for another year. Hey, it’s every day. My recovery is every day. So what was I doing this
morning when I first got up? Well, I was in the steam room. I was in the sauna. I got a massage. You know, it’s
like, I do things. And that’s one of the keys. So when I come home
from work, I do things that are going
to help me recover to be ready to go for the next day. Most of them are,
like, for wrestling. But it’s your whole life. So it could be my
homework when I was a kid. You know, that type of thing. But I can recover really quick. Really quick. And part of that recovery is
because I did a lot of things to my body and mind
that nobody else did. So practice was
over, I stayed after. But then I went through
all these things. Hot, cold plunges, hot plunges. You know, if somebody was
there in college for a massage. Just, I’d work on that,
but I didn’t really know what I was doing
until I became a coach. And then you kind of
diagnose it, dissect it. And then you say, this is it. So my teams could
work extremely hard. This team can work
extremely hard. And you can come back
and do it again tomorrow, and you’re totally recovered,
because you have a recovery process. So like I said, when I
wanted to go fishing, I had this cabin up
north in Minnesota. But I only get up there
three weeks a year, maybe two weeks a year. And all at the same time. So guess what I did? I built myself a
cabin in my backyard. So I go to my retreat every day. Plus, the fact that once
I retired from coaching, you know, I still wanted to
work on my sport and my life, my wife’s house was
her house, you know? And so she kind of
said, why don’t you build one just real close? [LAUGHTER] But, you know, it’s like, I’ve
never had to sleep in it– yet. But there is a bed there. SPEAKER 1: We’ll have
to create our own cabin in one of these [INAUDIBLE]. For the remaining two questions,
feel free to just approach. Let’s give Dan a thank
you, a round of applause. [APPLAUSE] Books in the back. We’ll do book signings. We’ll be here for 10 minutes.

41 thoughts on “Dan Gable: “Life Lessons from an Olympic Hero” | Talks at Google

  1. I have tremendous admiration for Dan, and as a former wrestler and state champ (and about Dan's age) I can directly relate to much of what he says. But I'm amazed that he still has not learned much about nutrition.

    He apparently went by standard dietician/government sanctioned recommendations as did I back then, but with old-age health problems I went back to the drawing board and learned that the old standards are flawed. There is better scientific knowledge out there to be learned and applied.

    Approximately 20 years or so ago Dan broke his hip due to osteoporosis. In some of the old wrestling videos you can see him with his crutches. He was not that old. That was likely due to a nutritional deficiency.

    So, Dan, if you happen to read this, you are at an age now when nutrition is especially important. I'm 74, and have been through serious health problems cured with nutrition and supplements. I am an arborist. I can still climb and do professional tree jobs.

  2. 3:21 YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS i always told people this shit.
    THIS pertains to anything with high level skill and competition. your thinking CHANGES in a more efficient way once u break that barrier and reach tough milisecond competition as i like to call it, you breakdown and analyze your actions and opponents to improve! then you can take this and apply to other skills and trades and get quick results.

    i was the .5% of world of warcraft players when it had 15 million suscribers not exactly an athlete. but not many other people played from ages 14-21 to memorize 120 different keystrokes (1,2,3, cntrl 1, cntrl 2, cntrl 3, q, shift-q, alt-q) etc etc and use them on the most opportune moment more efficiently than others.

    they say you are an expert after training 1000 hours of whatever it is you are training. i have 370 days played on my warlock. thats nearly 9000 hours. my most notable partner was the #1 2v2 priest in the world at the time. we played 8-16 hrs a day since we were 14 to age 21. he was a 16 year old living in florida. he is now a doctor.

    alot of us were addicted teens to world of warcraft who i played with. most of us stopped and engage in physical fitness. so i picked up on what dan gable was trying to say quickly especially when i noticed most of us were overachievers off the computer when we spent our a large part of our youth playing 16 hours of wow a day.

    i carried on the mentality to boxing and brazilian jiu jitsu. i surpassed people who were training for 3+ years in 6 months using good genetics, diet, knowledge and the burning desire…borderline addicted… to improve…to be better.

  3. why is gable the only wrestler people really remember he has that elan that you cannot quite put your finger on but n he has it

  4. Gable is amazing. The interviewer … sorry buddy, but not so much. We need someone who understands the sport of wrestling and can dig into Dan's take no prisoners attitude. He has an uncanny ability to have tunnel vision. Let Dan do this thing!

  5. Thank you Google for posting this interview! Dan Gable is a national treasure. A plain spoken man, willing to talk about some very personal memories as a way of giving insight into achieving success in life and your chosen interest. Powerful!

  6. I haven't wrestled in over two years. I've graduated and moved on to new pursuits in the world of endurance sports. Hearing of Dan Gable as a freshman wrestler set the chain of events in motion that have led me to where I'm at now. I'm training for my first 50 miler in March. I've come to know that there is so much more valuable knowledge to come from successful men like him, who embrace discomfort and enjoy it than guys who just live by motivation, who need to be told to get up at 4 to run, the guys who can't operate on their own frequency, the guys who don't know what it's like to not be born a world-class athlete. Guys like Dan Gable remind us that life sucks, and that's alright, life isn't supposed to constant fun and enjoyment, the suffering is what makes us feel, without it we wouldn't know what happiness was.

  7. I watch wrestler's today, the ones that lost by an inch or less. Like Aaron Pico, who won everything until he lost in international competition to someone as I recall from Iran? Anyway, I sat there thinking "Aaron could have won–IF he had been one of Gable's boys" , but…he wasn't. How many others with great talent who fell just a fraction of an inch short, might have won with this guy as their coach and mentor? Fact is, we will never know.

  8. I truly wonder what Coach would say if asked this question: is there such a thing–such a danger, as "overtraining?" We all know you can do too little–but can you do too much?

  9. The story of his sister during his high school wrestling career is insane. What a way to push through the hard times.

  10. Has there ever been two obviously opposite ends of the spectrum as Dan Gable and this kid "interviewing" him?

  11. Now that was a lot more wisdom than I was expecting. This is a deep guy. I love the ability this guy has to keep it real. He doesn't hide the vivid issues and memories of life that he used as fuel to propel him to success. I have 3 life damaging events that this talk will help me to evolve from.

    Thank you "Talks at Google" and Dan Gable.

  12. See comments about the hosts lack of guiding the interview, however I feel he was just in Awe of this incredible man, hence he became what so many of us rarely do, and that is Present, hence he just became an observer and listened.

  13. Over training is the number one problem elite athletes have especially triathletes or drowning in ironman meets which causes one problem death

  14. I like Dan but losing g a wrext.ing match is a joke compared to real adversity I lost my rectum my mom fell down the stairs my dad died dog got run over and now I am broke I don't think a losing a wrextling match is a big deal

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