Dana Hee is all about visualization, preparation, and focus.
In this space we’ve been sharing the advice of PepTalk coaches for overcoming adversity, and Dana shared her thoughts with us recently. Dana says that her whole life has been about overcoming obstacles.
She learned the importance of preparation and visualization while training for the Olympics, where she competed in tae kwon do. Her next career was as a pioneering stuntwoman and an actor in Hollywood, where she doubled for the likes of Geena Davis, Pamela Anderson, and more.
It’s a journey Dana has documented in her recent memoir, One Step with Courage.
As the Olympic Games were approaching, Dana was in a very difficult position. She had a back injury that prevented her from actively training for her Olympic matches. That certainly sounds like a catastrophe for any athlete, but Dana’s coach had her training intensively through visualization. Dana engaged in a rigorous mental program of visualization. She saw her matches against her opponents — the moves she would make and the moves they would make. She pictured herself securing the most points. She pictured herself lifting her arms in victory at the conclusion of the final match.
At the Games, when she was warming up in the locker room and waiting for her first match to begin, Dana watched as two athletes burst through the doors. One was jubilant — she had won. The other had just lost and was devastated.
Fear started creeping back into Dana’s mind. It was then she reminded herself that she was 110% prepared. She had all the strength, training, and timing that an athlete in her position could possibly have — even with her recent back injury. She used the knowledge of her preparation to allay her own fears.
It worked. Dana defeated her opponent and became the Olympic champion.
She credits her commitment to visualization and preparation with the victory — that she won because she believed she could. She wants us to know that when we give more than we believe we have, that’s when we start seeing success.
Dana also utilized these principles in her career as a Hollywood stuntwoman. She faced serious dangers as part of everyday work on-set — being hit by a car, or escaping an exploding building.
In overcoming adversity, Dana’s main piece of advice is to demonstrate focus and to take incremental steps that take us toward a goal.
She used this sense of focus in her stunt work. In doing a particular scene where she would be hit and thrown by a car, she broke down each component of the stunt in her mind. She took it one risky step at a time and completed the stunt successfully. When the director yelled to cut, Dana noticed that the camera operator was staring at her with horror — reacting to the danger of the stunt. But Dana just smiled, knowing that if she focused on and executed each step, she could not be deterred.
Dana tells us that’s how we should approach adversity — to figure out what the steps are and be focused on our execution.
While you’re at it, be sure to visualize.