“Up until 1984, the U.S. Men’s Volleyball Teams had never medaled in a major international tournament. While the players excelled at volleyball, they struggled to work together effectively. Team dynamics were fragile, the players lacked trust in and respect for one another, and significant work was needed,” said Murray, co-founder and president of RealTime Performance. “So, the coaches and team psychologists took risks with unconventional team building activities, implemented creative teamwork, and built a culture of excellence. Trust and respect grew, and the team rose to new levels – eventually achieving Olympic gold. Readers of If Gold Is Our Destiny will see how extraordinary things happen when individuals believe and trust in one another and commit themselves to a shared purpose. The lessons shared in this book can help anyone achieve success.”
Virtual Launch Party
The virtual launch party for If Gold Is Our Destiny is today at 1 p.m. ET. In addition to covering the core concepts in the book, this event will feature special guests, including Bill Neville, Assistant Head Coach of the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal Volleyball Team, as well as Aldis Berzins, Member of the 1984 Team and Head Men’s Volleyball Coach at Stevenson University. Launch party attendees will have the chance to win free “Gold is My Destiny” branded journals and ask questions of the author. Interested participants can sign up here: https://tinyurl.com/mr2jpytj.
In If Gold Is Our Destiny, readers will see that the 1980s U.S. Men’s Volleyball Team was a group of free-spirited players who were unable to get along or respect each other on and off the court. For more than a year, both coaches and team psychologists discussed the idea that a significant life experience outside of volleyball would bring the team together. In an unfamiliar environment, they would be forced to beat the odds by working together to achieve a common goal.
The answer, mandated by head coach Doug Beal in 1983, was a controversial three-week Outward Bound winter hike across one hundred miles in Utah. The team climbed 11,000-foot peaks and carried 70-pound packs, all while surrounded by a landscape of snow, mountains, and trees in every direction. In the wilderness the players were reliant on each other for survival. The plan worked, as players began looking out for one another, opening up about their individual positions’ pressure and stress, and admitting that a pecking order had emerged based on playing time and everyone’s contribution to the team. During those three weeks, egos were set aside and a path forward was recognized. The team learned how to collaborate, trust, and respect each other. Their resiliency increased.
Soon after the trip, the men used their newfound trust to implement an innovative approach to volleyball that changed not only their success on the court but the sport itself. By 1984, the team’s collaboration reached new heights, and they competed in the Olympics – easily winning against Brazil in three sets. The team then went on to win the 1985 World Cup, the 1986 World Championships, and a second consecutive gold medal at the 1988 Olympics.
In If Gold Is Our Destiny, Murray shares the story of effective leadership in action, and reveals how important it is for everyone to have a role – no matter how big or small. He includes examples of when extremely talented team members, if unwilling to make sacrifices and place the success of the team above themselves, must leave because the team is stronger without them. Murray uses the journey of the 1984 gold-winning team to highlight the importance of resilience, and the difference it can make when team members look out for one another, listening to others’ ideas as part of the process. If Gold Is Our Destiny is a real-life example of how risk-taking and creative teamwork can transform any environment, from the volleyball court to the boardroom.
About Sean Murray
Sean Murray is the founder and president of RealTime Performance, a leadership training and organization development firm based in Seattle, Washington. He creates and delivers learning experiences for clients, including courses on Leadership, Decision Making, Business Acumen, Time Management, Well-Being, and Leading in the Age of AI. Sean is also the host of a weekly podcast called The Good Life, where he interviews authors and business professionals on leadership and how to get the most out of life. He writes regularly for his blog, RealTime Performance, and publishes a bi-weekly newsletter, “Murray on Leadership.” He co-authored the book, The 5A’s Framework: Getting More from Your Investment in Training.
Sean’s father, Don Murray, was a pioneer in leadership and organizational development who
worked with the U.S. Men’s Volleyball 1984 Olympic gold-winning team. Sean’s interest in his father’s stories about the team (even attending their matches as a 13-year-old at the 1984 Olympics) drove him to research the team’s road to success. He chronicled their struggles and triumphs in If Gold Is Our Destiny: How a Team of Mavericks Came Together for Olympic Glory, published by Rowman and Littlefield. Sean is the first author to provide an in-depth look at the team’s evolution from the early 1980s through the Olympics, and its groundbreaking team-building approach and lessons learned
along the way.
Previously, Sean worked for GE Capital at the Center for Learning & Organizational Excellence. Sean began his career in sales and marketing for Quando, a Portland, Oregon-based start-up providing event information online. Sean received his MBA from the University of Oregon and a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Puget Sound.