How the Mighty Ducks Will Make You a Better Person

hockey duck

“Quack quack quack, Mr. Ducksworth!”

If you were growing up in or around the 90’s, you probably loved The Mighty Ducks. Sure, it was poorly acted, full of ridiculous plot points and implausible scenarios, but I bet you have fond memories of this hockey team.

Let’s set aside the fact that a guy who gets convicted of a DUI is put in charge of a children’s hockey team, and instead focus on the fact that this bum of a coach managed to change the lives of the lives of the mighty ducks, and my life as well.

Today we’re going to learn from Coach Gordon Bombay (EMILIO!!) Charlie Conway (spazz!), Adam Banks (cake-eater!), Folton Reed, GOLDBERG!, and the rest of the Mighty Ducks about leveling up ourselves and our lives.

Shall we?

Don’t Play the victim


At the beginning of the movie, this rag tag group of underdogs is known as “District 5.”  

They have crappy equipment, a poor attitude, and no direction.  When Gordon takes over, he’s tasked with turning the team around for community service. Rather than teaching them actual skills and teamwork, he instead looks for the easy way out…he teaches them to cheat and act like they’ve been hurt.

District Five Peewee Hockey Team: “Take the fall! Act hurt! Get indignant!”

“Take the fall, act hurt!” Video

Fortunately, Charlie Conway stands up for himself, and tells his coach that he won’t cheat.  Gordon realizes the error of his ways, and instead teaches his team to play with pride.  They tie their next game, which sends them into a frenzy.

Real Life Lesson:  It’s quite easy to play the victim rather than accepting the situation and digging our own way out.  We often blame outside forces for our situation: our genetics, the weather, the economy, our significant other, bad luck, the government, or whatever. It’s far too easy to say “if only I had _________, things would be better.”

In my humble nerdy opinion, personal responsibility is one of the greatest skills we can possess as humans.  We might not be to blame for our predicament, but are definitely responsible for fixing it. It’s not anybody else’s job to do so…it’s ours!

Once you stop playing the victim, you realize that you don’t need anybody else’s permission to live a better life (or become a better hockey team). You just need to start:

  • If you don’t like your situation, change it.
  • If you don’t like your job or can’t find one, invent one.
  • If you always say, “why can’t I do that?” shut up and do it!

Life is amazing, and we live in the most incredible time ever in the history of this planet.  Be like the Mighty Ducks, not District 5.  Don’t take the fall or act hurt…accept personal responsibility for where you are and work every day to improve it.

Ducks fly together

lego hockey

After receiving a sponsorship that requires a team name change, the kids are quite skeptical of being called “The Mighty Ducks.”  I certainly don’t blame them!

Gordon Bombay: Hey, you don’t wanna be Ducks? You’d rather be District Five? Some stupid number?

Peter Mark: Better than some stupid animal.

Gordon Bombay: I’ll have you know, Peter, that the Duck is one of the most noble, agile and intelligent creatures in the animal kingdom.

Connie Moreau: But they’re wimpy!

Guy Germaine: They don’t even have teeth.

Gordon Bombay: Neither do hockey players. Have you guys ever seen a flock of ducks flying in perfect formation? It’s beautiful. Pretty awesome the way they all stick together. Ducks never say die. Ever seen a duck fight? No way. Why? Because the other animals are afraid. They know that if they mess with one duck, they gotta deal with the whole flock. I’m proud to be a Duck, and I’d be proud to fly with any one of you. So how about it? Who’s a Duck?

Fulton Reed: I’ll be a duck.

What started as a funny name and a goofy group of kids eventually became district champs in Mighty Ducks 1 and World Champs in Mighty Ducks 2. Mighty Ducks 3 never happened, you hear me?


Each person in the group is important, but when working together they become more powerful than the sum of their parts.

Because Ducks fly together:

Ducks Fly Together

Take this example from Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership:

“One of the largest, strongest horses in the world is the Belgian draft horse.  Competitions are held to see which horse can pull the most and one Belgian can pull 8,000 pounds.  The weird thing is if you put two Belgian horses in the harness who are strangers to each other, together they can pull 20,000 – 24,000 pounds.  Two can pull not twice as much as one but three times as much as one.”

Real Life Lesson: You don’t need to be a one-man wolfpackyou can be part of a flock.  Like the Mighty Ducks, Nerd Fitness started as a goofy group of ragtag underdogs…since then we’ve evolved into…a much larger, goofy group of ragtag underdogs, now almost 130,000 rebels strong.

Lean on your teammates.  We have a new 6-week challenge that started yesterday on our message boards.  Join up.  Ask for help. Find an accountabilibudy and text each other every day.  Put money on the line and have somebody hold you accountable for showing up to the gym three times a week.

Ducks fly together.  Rebels fight alongside one another for a better life.  We’re here for ya.

Winning isn’t everything

rubber duck

At one point in the movie, Gordon flashes back to his own days as a Peewee hockey player.

Faced with a potential game-winning penalty shot, Gordon is approached by his ass of a coach:

“Gordon, it’s up to you. I don’t wanna see any goats around after the game. You got it? Now, you miss this shot…you’re not just lettin’ me down, you’re lettin’ your team down.”

Let’s set aside the fact that no coach would ever tell this to a little kid.  Faced with far too much pressure, Gordon knocked his shot off the post, and his team eventually went on to lose the game in overtime. Unsurprisingly, this moment stuck with Gordon for the rest of his life.

Here’s the truth: Gordon losing that hockey match probably did more for him than any victory could have done. Yes, he could have done without the coach destroying his self-confidence, but a loss isn’t always a bad thing. Gordon learned at a young age that sometimes things don’t always go your way. Sometimes you won’t be the best at something, and things just don’t work out!


Had he skated through life (zing!) without struggling, he would have received a rude awakening once he hit the real world.  Fortunately, he DID lose, learned that losing isn’t the end of the world, and passed on this wisdom to Charlie who was faced with the very same penalty shot at the end of the first movie.

Real Life Lesson: Sometimes shit happens.  Sometimes you fail.  And ya know what?  Failing can be freaking awesome, and can teach you more than any victory, provided you learn from it.

When I was cut from the high school basketball team, I was devastated.  Looking back, getting cut was probably the greatest thing that could have happened to me. The next day, I signed up for a gym membership and started myself down this path to health and fitness.  Had that not happened, who knows where I’d be today!

Your next risky move might work out. Or it might not.  Remember that a failure isn’t a personal reflection on you, but rather the discovery of a method that doesn’t work.  If you try an activity and it doesn’t work out, try another one. If you try to lose weight and you’re not successful, try a DIFFERENT method next time.

Concentration, not strength


At one point in the movie, Gordon decides to go all Mr. Miyagi on the Ducks.  He teaches them to play hockey by using things other than just hockey equipment.

Like eggs.

The lesson learned is “concentration, not strength.”  Instead of just using brute force to smash the puck, the Ducks learn to cradle the puck softly, by learning to pass actual eggs back and forth on the ice without breaking them.

Concentration, not strength!

It’s this level of concentration that allows the Ducks’ resident powershot expert, Fulton Reed, to safely cradle the puck so that he can hit the hell out of it and give the goalie scoliosis.

Real Life Lesson:  Strength is important, but having the right mindset is even MORE important when it comes to fitness.  Work smarter, not harder.

We’re nerds, after all. Instead of spending all of your willpower and energy to make a change in your diet or exercise, use your brain instead and engineer an environment in which getting healthier happens naturally. Or use the force and use these Jedi Mind Tricks to get healthy.

Put your focus on building the right systems, start a hard hat challenge, and make building new habits your focal point.  If you’re going to exercise, do so efficiently!  Why spend three hours on a treadmill and starve yourself when you can simplify the sh** out of everything and get far more results in far less time?

Stop focusing and worrying about the small stuff, and instead focus on the big wins.  Concentration, not strength. Brains, not brawn. Smarter, not harder.

Quack quack quack

mighty ducks

Reading, studying, and practicing can only take you so far.  Sometimes, you just have to suck it up, take deep breath, and take the shot.  

“You may make it, you may not.  But that doesn’t matter, Charlie.  What matters is that we’re here.  Look around. Whoever thought we’d make it this far? One, two, three. Triple deke. Take your best shot.”

Take Your Best Shot Video

So, take personal responsibility for your situation.  Find your flock.  Concentration, not strength.  Don’t fear failure…just take the damn shot.

Quack, quack, quack!

What’s an oddly applicable lesson you’ve learned from YOUR favorite childhood movie?


PS: Don’t forget, we have a new 6-week challenge that started yesterday on our message boards. It’s free, and can help you get started down your path to a leveled up life. Hope to see you in there!

PPS: Nerd Fitness meetup tonight in Charleston, SC from 7PM-9PM.  See you then 🙂


photo source: smile, egg, lego, rubber hockey duck, mighty duck, rubber duck

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39 thoughts on “How the Mighty Ducks Will Make You a Better Person

  1. 90s kid! The lesson I learned (and have rediscovered recently) is from the Magic School Bus (gotta love Ms. Frizzle!): “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!”

  2. LOVE this article so freaking much! It helps that Mighty Ducks is one of my favorite movies from when I was a kid…

  3. I gotta say that the movie ” The Sandlot” taught me that no matter how nerdy, boldness can win the girl! Go Squints! And that my friends is how I won my wife!

  4. I go back to Over The Top a lot, for when Stallone tells his son “The world meets no one halfway”.

  5. Thanks for the awesome post, Steve! I loved Mighty Ducks as a kid, in part because the ice arena used in the first movie is located in my hometown.

  6. I don’t know where else to post this: is there anyone who has advice for someone who has trouble standing
    up for herself? My job sucks because I’m constantly called out by
    coworkers and being told I’m doing something wrong: a lot of the time
    I’m not, but whenever they call me out I shut down and my mind goes
    completely blank and I can’t defend myself against their accusations;
    I’m basically accepting that I’ve done something wrong this way. I’ve
    also overheard them talking about me when I walk past (I know that
    sounds so adolescent of me to say but it’s true) I don’t know how to stop it, and
    it’s starting to affect me: I dread my shifts, and while I’m working I get nervous and short of breath, because I’m worried about screwing up. Of course, this doesn’t help, and in fact makes things worse. I’ve thought
    about quitting, but I stop and wonder if that’s the coward’s way out. I’ve
    never really been able to stand up for myself all my life, and I really
    really really want to change it, I just don’t know how. I’m sick of being an easy target!

  7. Do NOT stick it out with a horrible, abusive job hoping it will get better. There are hostile workplace laws in many locations, and you don’t have to accept it. If you suck, get better at your job, even if it means working on your own time to learn – but if it truly isn’t your fault, don’t accept the blame. Take it over their heads if you must. Get a trusted friend to treat you like they do, and work on telling him/her off until you get it right.

    I worked for an awful, awful man (I listened to him shout obscenities at his wife, his girlfriend, his children for FIVE YEARS, because I thought I needed the work) and when I finally said NO MORE, he was begging me to come back. Because he knew he needed me, but by then it was too late. But I STILL have nightmares about working in that stupid office, and my heart starts pounding when confronted by someone with that kind of attitufe. Don’t put up with abuse.

  8. Thanks for the feedback. I’ve tried ignoring them; but they will come right up next to me to tell me something, so I have to respond. At first I thought their critiques were just constructive, but by now I’ve gotten to know the ropes and I really try to think through decisions before I act on them, and they still make it seem like I wasn’t thinking at all and I acted out of sheer incompetence. I need to talk to the manager anyway about my hours, so I will see if I can talk to him about it then.

  9. Winning isn’t everything. Most people see failure as an ending. It is only an ending if you give up. So you lose, so what. Figure out what went wrong, learn from it and try again from a better place where you have more knowledge/skills on your side. Great post! Love the Ducks!

  10. “…in Mighty Ducks 1 and World Champs in Mighty Ducks 2” and in 2007 they became Stanley Cup Champs. BOOM!

  11. You may falter in your dreams, but the only way to fail at them is to abandon them.

    Okay, that’s from a Dracula episode, but such an awesome quote!

  12. Steve,

    While we all knew Mighty Ducks had life lessons strewn through it’s plot, I don’t think it was ever broken down in such an awesome way.

    The biggest take away was the “Winning Isn’t Everything.” It goes along with taking action and failing forward. So many people are afraid of failure – afraid of the unknown results – that they fail to act altogether.

    Failing to act is the biggest failure of them all. Fail forward instead.

    And I agree…’Mighty Ducks 3′ never existed. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. : )


  13. Hi Steve,

    Been reading your website for a couple months now, and this is my first comment because I could fully relate to the article. I’m not fit or slim and solid by any means. For years, I worked on a tower crew where we ate a ton of food, always in restaurants, always on the road, and our main daily workout was was climbing up and down 500 foot towers, and working with steel and hand tools. Did I get strong? Yes. Did I get fat? Yes. I finished off the tower crew with huge shoulders, big thighs, and a massive pot belly and love handles lol I was still my heaviest of about 235lbs.

    After my tower crew days, I wanted to slim down, grt healthy, and get fit. I came across P90X and used my high level computer skills to dig up all the dirt on it that I could. There were so many positive transition videos across YouTube and the rest of the Internet, and honestly, very few bad reviews or bad stories. Trust me when I say, you can’t hide your dirty laundry from me, so I was satisfied by this result and decided to try it for myself.

    The meals were wonderful, all home cooked and satisfying. The problem came with the actual work outs. Day 1 was upper body, it went well, I was totally wasted by the end of it, and by the next day, I couldn’t lift my arms above my head. Thank god day 2 was legs, no need for my arms… Day 2 was called plyometrics(?) and again I wasted by the end of it, but here in lies the problem. On Day 3, I couldn’t walk, could barley get out of bed and ended up having to call in sick to work. It was the worse feeling ever and I was walking like a penguin for about 4 days.

    I lasted 1 month of this constant pain and agony and penguin walking. I finally gave up, told myself getting fit and healthy shouldn’t mean barely being able to function each day. On top of that, I felt like I was eating so much food, it looked in the mirror like I was getting bigger and fatter, and I was completely dissatisfied and horribly unhappy.

    This is my honest review, from someone who over this past weekend, completed Tough Mudder, but is by no means an athlete on any level. P90X may work, but shouldn’t be used by someone just starting out.

  14. Self empowerment seminars or a psychologist I used to be the same way it took 3 visits to a psychologist then I stopped feeling that way just like in school you still have the bullies in work environment so stop treading carefully and step on toes already

  15. Great article! I’m on weight watchers. I am glad I have a leader who encourages using points for healthy whole foods and good for you fats and not the processed stuff. But I can for sure see that people take those extra points and just load up with junk!

  16. Not quite sure what your ajenda is here. But, I will say that beach body is not trying to monopolize and get rich by hiring celebrities to promote their product. They have something for everyone to fit their lifestyle and quite frankly, the journey does not end after the “90 days”. It’s the person’s choice to keep in contact with their coach. The coach is always there but never charges a fee or forces one to adhere to any one single idea. Beach body is about support systems.
    It’s not a fad, it’s a life style. A juice diet is just that a diet. You can’t sustain on that type of life style for ever.
    A person must want to educate themselves and improve their overall health. No super star can influence a single person on an on going basis.
    A coach can because they are real people doing real things!

  17. This article might need to be updated for P90X3. It’s a 30 minute daily program. I suppose it’s a bit more sustainable, but even with P90X, people could just drop their workouts to 3-5 times per week following the program after their 90 days are up. Although, I’ve been doing a 30 minute workout video 6x per week for months. It’s not a terribly intense time suck.

  18. Oh my goodness! Thank you. I was online searching Shakeology and ran across your page so thought I’d read this before I bought that. So glad I did…you reminded me that I will have to return to life after I decide I can’t afford that anymore and start the search for something else. It’s simple and we all know it, yet it is a difficult endevour, at least for me. I shall read on here as it seems to resonate more with my psyche. Thanks again

  19. I have done 21 day fix with shakeology. The shake can be used as a meal replacement if you add fruits and veggies to it. Or just by itself as a snack. But what helps is the portion control it teaches you.
    I used to jus do cardio to keep my weight down then my gym closed. And needed something to help keep me in check. With this there is the 1/2 workouts also. I know a lot of people that it has helped. With just portion control and exercise I have lost 10 lbs.

  20. Usana health sciences.please do a review on this company! I would like to hear your opinion on a company that has shakes similar to shakeology but has a higher calorie content. But the company has a transition phase/program to help you learn to eat healthier so you don’t get off of it and gain the weight back. But this company combines the shake with their multivitamin “the essentials” made up of a chelated mineral and mega antioxidant. they also have other supplements or your body as well. I have several friends that swear by it. But I would like to hear your opinion on the company.


    Many people that I know using Shakeo have been using it for several years. Very few use it to lose a few pounds. It works as a supplement or as a meal replacement as well. I’ve been using it as a supplement. I’ll have my shake and breakfast.

    Its also marketed with programs like P90X, and T25, which are intense workout regimes. Many of the people using one, are using the other. I’ve personally lost 7 pounds in 6 weeks, and quit soda with Shakeo and T25. My wife has lost 45 pounds using both, and a friend of ours has lost well over 100 pounds and is very toned and flexible.

  22. I am a current Weight Watcher member and feel that the article is a bit off regarding the program. My leader NEVER encourages us to purchase the WW snacks and merchandise. He will tell us about any specials that are currently running but otherwise our meeting are open exchanges between members. Also the advantage of Weight Watchers is not only the accountability but also you are learning how to use food and to change your relationship with food. YOU are making the decisions regarding what to eat, not opening a box or container. The emphasis right now is to plan your food in advance and this helps you account for any special events that you have coming up. I believe that Weight Watchers is the most successful program out there because it teaches you to make conscious decisions about food.

  23. Are these always coworkers? I don’t know if you’re still working there or not, since its been 2 years, but I still want to try to help if I can.( if not you, someone else who sees this post.) if it is only two coworkers, I would definitely have a talk with the boss. If it is a bigger organization, what they are doing is illegal.
    As someone who spent years doing the same thing, you have to finally get to the point that you think enough is enough. Then you have to find a tactful way to deal with it. I am Telling not against you finding another job, but if you’re having a hard time standing up for yourself, history might repeat itself.
    Lookup assertiveness online. This is what you need to practice. You already know that you deserve better, or it wouldn’t bother you. Start with something simple, like when you notice a wrong price at the grocery store. In time, you should be able to go to your boss and let them know what’s going on. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with saying that you have changed jobs because of this, if you decide to do that. Just make sure you have another job lined up first! I had to do this once. I was surprised just how compassionate my bosses were, and they talked me out of taking the other job. They even offered me a raise! Yes, just made to eat other co-workers even more jealous, but by then I realized that’s what it was. I decided to start ignoring them.

  24. Agreed. Shakeo for most people is a life changer. The people I know that start it, don’t give it up. My coach has been using it for 4 years. I personally can’t seem to keep it down (bummer) but it seems to work well. The workouts p90x and insanity are good if you like long exhausting workouts. But you can still do a work out from a DVD that isn’t that long. I have 21 day fix. I completely ignore the fact that I’m supposed to only do it for 21 days. I want real life changing results that last. Something I can keep doing. So a 15 – 30 min work out is great. Most people have 15 mins. I have no experience with weight watches. But I have a friend who lost over 100 lbsbon it, and has be approved for skin removal surgery (yay!) So it does work for some. I agree, probably not all!

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