Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

December 29, 2017


Stories inspire me. They empower me. They make me believe that no matter what I am going through, nothing is impossible.

In the writing of EDGY Conversations, I went looking for ordinary people who achieved outrageous success. I found 2 or 3 stories. Then 20. Then hundreds. We’ve now hit more than 1,000. 

There were only 150 stories in the book — and most of them were just 2 to 3 paragraphs. There is a longer story behind each one. 

A story that is sure to inspire all of us.

Every week I write a Saturday story that is meant to inspire higher performance and give a subtle message about perseverance. 

I’ve compiled a list of my top 17 favorite “Saturday stories” of 2017 to share with you in case you missed some or just need a little nudge of encouragement to carry you into 2018.

Here you go:

1. When You Decide to Take Back Control of Your Life

Alison Botha looked down on her own mangled body from a place she could only think of as death. Lying in a pool of her own blood, lifeless and unable to move, she asked herself if the peace she felt floating above was easier than fighting for the life below. She had been raped and tortured, but overcame.

2. Learning Your Way to Awesome

In a job that only paid commission, Chris Gardner was homeless. But not hopeless. He was determined to make it work. He remembered the words of his mother: “You can only depend on yourself. The cavalry ain’t coming.” And so he learned what it took to be a success.

3. You Can Do It

She was all done. Frustrated. Angry. And more than a little bit annoyed. She was 45 and fed up. Determined to make some changes. Mary Kathlyn sat at her kitchen table making a list of all the things that held her back while working in a “man’s” world for the 25 years. And then she turned that world upside down.

4. You Decide Your Future

Charlie Wedemeyer got the shocking diagnosed of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was in his early 30s. Better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the disease was a death sentence. But he decided to turn it into a life sentence.

5. Being the Warlord of Your Destiny

Olive Yang was born in British Colonial Burma in the late 1920s. Her family was considered royalty in the region, so expectations were high, but Olive was not the type of “princess” her family expected her to be. She was the world’s most fearsome warlord you’ve never heard of.

6. When Lofty Dreams Demand Unpleasant Sacrifice

His feet screamed. His legs gave out. But every time he fell, Donald “Lofty” Large got back up. Despite the agony, he marched on. He marched for his life. Staying down meant a bullet in the head from his Chinese captors. And at only 20 years old, he wasn’t ready to meet that bullet.

7. There is No Triumph Without Struggle

In 1940, Wilma Rudolph was born dangerously premature. At only 4.5 pounds, no one expected her to live. Not the doctors. Not even her parents. But they would soon learn that this precious child of theirs was a fighter.

8. Creating Your Own Bags to Riches Story

As Kurt Warner stepped out of his truck, the icy wind ripped at his face, turning his cheeks a splotchy red. He shoved his hands in his pockets. Making sure his fingertips could feel the cold coins inside. He had run out of gas on the way back home because he was broke. And broken. But he had a plan to turn it all around.

9. That Idiot Who Changes Everything

He wasn’t bothered so much by the raw, naked greed. It was the incompetent dishonesty that enraged him. They were idiots in suits who thought they were taking advantage of him. Little did they know the measure of the man they were dealing with.The success of Jim Clark was as improbable as it was magnificent.

10. Making Sure You Come Back Up

At 16, Dan Jansen set a Junior World Record in the 500m and came in 16th in 1000 meter. His next stop was the Olympics. Dan gave up the “other sports” and made up his mind to be an Olympian. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Far from it. For every up in Dan Jansen’s life, there was a down, it seemed.

11. Being Free Comes With a Fight

Tom Molineaux stood in a makeshift 24 square foot boxing ring. In England. Ankle deep in mud and blood. Just years earlier, Tom Molineaux had been living his life as an American slave in Virginia. And now he was fighting for his life- and his freedom.

12. It’s Hard to Be Different

At 21, Dani dove into Hawaiian waters with the intention of not coming back out. She was broke. She was homeless. Living in her car she parked overnight at a beach a 40-minute drive from where she was planning on ending it all right now. And then something miraculous happened.

13. How to Win Big After Crashing Out in Life

Alex was barely on the track when he heard the sound of carbon fiber being ripped apart from lightweight metal alloy. It was his supercar. Being torn into bits.He had just been hit by another Formula 1 driver. At 190 miles per hour.Alex heard an explosion. And then he heard nothing. But his journey was not over.

14. Achieving Your Confetti Moment

Imagine walking around every day thinking of ways to end your life. Will you walk out in front of a bus? Will you eat a handful of pills? Or will you just use a razor blade? Evan Gattis doesn’t have to imagine it. He lived it. And he got through it in an unconventional way.

15. Naked. Afraid. And Just the Person to Stop a Massacre

When Maggy Barankitse opened the palace door that morning and locked it behind her as she stepped out, she could feel the fear in the air. The silent panic. The underlying cry for blood. She recognized the faces looking back at her. Just outside the front door were her family. and friends. Members of her village and tribe. And now, she was their enemy.

16. Creating a Vision So Strong Your Dreams Become Possible

When he got to the gym, shivering from the freezing bike ride there, he walked to the door and pulled. It was locked. And so Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the age of 15, four miles from his home in Thal, Austria did the only logical thing. He broke into the gym. Just so he could keep a promise to himself.

17. When You Find Yourself Gifted By Tragedy

On his ascent up Mount Kilimanjaro, Spencer West looked down at his dirt-stained hands and fingernails. He didn’t know how long it would take before they would be clean again. It was the only time in Spencer’s life he wished he had legs.

Share with a friend, your company, your team, or your family.

If they could do the impossible, so can you. Never forget that. 

You’re building your own superhero story right now. Be tough. Fight on.

Stay EDGY. Be awesome.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.