Goal setting: Making and keeping them is hard but rewarding work | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Goal setting: Making and keeping them is hard but rewarding work

Susan Wood

Provided to the Tahoe Daily Tribune Faye and Joe Wagner embrace upon reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.

What do a South Shore mountain climber, college graduate and disc jockey have in common with Olympic athletes?

Their stories of goals set and met show the testament of the human spirit – one in which mind over matter is more than a catch phrase.

Little did Gary Johnson of South Lake Tahoe know that drumming in his father’s garage would lead to his marriage with vocalist Suzanne Joy and the formation of JJ Entertainment, a disc jockey business they started 11 years ago. The two now juggle between 300 and 500 events a year.

“I just wanted to play parties and get chicks,” he said of his youth.

They played in a band together in the 1980s. As the gigs were drying up in town, he brought home a karaoke machine.

“I said: ‘Are you crazy? You put this on our credit card,’ ” she said.

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During a major snowstorm, the couple stayed up all night – performing every song listed.

Johnson sensed an evolution of the entertainment business and jumped ahead of the bandwagon.

“It was a matter of survival. What helped with my goal is I had a music background,” he said. “It’s a tough way to make a living, but Tahoe has been good to us.”

Joy said it takes hard work, self-motivation and common sense to turn a goal of running one’s own business into reality.

“I don’t believe there’s such a thing as an overnight sensation,” she said.

Johnson defines success as longevity and tenacity – qualities that span the globe.

Fay and Joe Wagner understand the motivation behind traveling around the world for individual goals, like those the Olympians experience in sometimes just a minute in time.

The couple just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa to raise money for Sierra Recovery Center, a South Lake Tahoe nonprofit organization assisting people with substance abuse issues.

“For us, it was one step at a time,” she said.

Wagner went to the gym every day to train for the climb. It reminded the artist of her entry into sculpture.

“At that time, I set a goal that I wouldn’t keep the pots that weren’t of a certain height,” she said.

She attributes much of her success in scaling the altitude sickness-prone mountain to a positive attitude.

“I told everybody in town (I was going to do it). I couldn’t walk back in this town a failure,” she joked. “When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. The only thing that would have stopped me was altitude sickness. I would have got to the top if I had to crawl.”

Still, Wagner looks up to the Olympians.

“You have to admire these kids,” Wagner said. “It’s a sign of personality and character.”

Their tales seem to unfold every day in the Olympics coverage.

U.S. gold medalist Rulon Gardner, who added a bronze medallion in Athens, tearfully set his shoes in the middle of the ring Wednesday night. The gesture marked the end of a career filled with successes and obstacles. Gardner, whose sister Gerrie is a South Shore cardiologist, almost lost his life from hypothermia in the Wyoming wilderness when he was stranded on a snowmobile.

Fast forward to 2004, the U.S. men’s volleyball team advanced into the finals by coming back from a 7-point deficit in Game 2 to win the match against Greece.

“They have to stay in the moment more than anyone else in the planet. There’s nothing else that distracts them,” said Tahoe City-based motivational speaker Donna Hartley, who’s a cancer survivor.

Hartley places a lot of faith of meeting a goal in the preparation and the follow through. In between, there’s power in seeing the goal in a picture or words.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com