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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