Adam Kreek: High Performance Jedi, Olympic Gold Medalist, and Bestselling Author

Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 158

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Today’s show welcomes back one of my good friends, the always brilliant, gripping, and inspiring high performance Jedi, Adam Kreek.

Adam’s a Stanford educated, highly decorated multiple time world-champion, and Olympic gold medalist rower who has multiple Hall of Fame busts on his mantle

He’s a human being that lives to push the envelope and always seeks out his limits.

Sometimes that has meant victory and glory and other times that’s meant gut wrenching defeat… Like the time he was part of a crew that sought to become the first humans ever cross the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat but capsized in the Bermuda triangle right at the finish line.

But Adam Kreek is not a man who will ever be defined by victory or defeat. He’s someone who will always be defined by grittiness, persistence, and sheer power of will….

And, to your favorite podcast host, that makes him the epitome of greatness.

These days Adam’s a powerful guide and world-class teacher with a wealth of knowledge to share with you on how you can realize your full potential at any stage of your life.

He’s also an executive coach, an elite corporate trainer and an A-list keynote speaker. And in 2019, he published his first book that is one of my personal favorites of all time “The Responsibility Ethic”.

And, if you really wanna get fired up, head directly to YouTube after listening to this episode and check out Adam’s TED talk, “I Seek Failure.” I promise you won’t regret it.

Greatness Bombs you’re about to hear in this episode of Chasing Poker Greatness include:

– How to get back on track when dealing with your inevitable poker failures.

– Why happiness is not guaranteed after any of your life successes.

– How to embrace boldness in your poker career.

– How the power of belief is imperative to your poker game.

– And much, much more!

So without any further ado, I bring to you one of my favorite humans in the world, awe inspiring performance coach, Olympic champion, and author Adam Kreek.

Click any of the icons below to find the CPG pod on the platform of your choice. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with Adam Kreek on the Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast.

If this is your first time on the Chasing Poker Greatness website, be sure to check out our groundbreaking poker courses to help sharpen your strategy and profitably implement solid, data-proven solutions to your game today:

Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 158: Adam Kreek: High Performance Jedi, Olympic Gold Medalist, And Bestselling Author

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Pokers legendary champions, next generation stars and tireless ambassadors who gave sharing their wisdom and guiding your journey to high achievement on the green felt. This is chasing poker greatness. With your host, Brad Wilson.


Welcome welcome. Welcome my friend to another episode of the chasing poker greatness podcast. As always, this is your host Coach Brad Wilson, and today’s show welcomes back one of my good friends. The always brilliant gripping and inspiring high performance Jedi Adam Kreek. Adams, a Stanford educated highly decorated multi time world champion and Olympic gold medalist rower who has multiple Hall of Fame busts on his mantle. He’s a human being that lives to push the envelope and always seeks to find his limits. Sometimes that’s meant victory and glory. And other times that has meant gut wrenching defeat. Like the time he was part of a crew that sought to become the first humans ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat, but ended up capsizing in the Bermuda Triangle right at the finish line. But Adam is not a man who will ever be defined by victory or defeat. He’s someone who will always be defined by grittiness, persistence and sheer power of will, and to your favorite podcast host that makes him the epitome of greatness. These days, Adams, a powerful guide and world class teacher with a wealth of knowledge to share with you on how you can realize your full potential at any stage of your life. He’s also an executive coach, and elite corporate trainer, and an alias keynote speaker in 2019. He published his first book that is one of my personal favorites of all time, the responsibility ethic. And if you really want to get fired up, head directly to YouTube after listening to this episode and check out Adams TED talk, I seek failure. I promise you won’t regret it. Greatness bombs you’re about to hear in this episode of chasing poker greatness include how to get back on track when dealing with your inevitable poker failures. Why happiness is not guaranteed after any of your life successes, how to embrace boldness in your poker career, how the power of belief is imperative to your poker game, and much, much more. So without any further ado, I bring to you one of my favorite human beings in the whole world, awe inspiring high performance coach, Olympic champion and best selling author Adam Kreek. Mr. Kreek Welcome back on chasing poker greatness, sir, how you been?


Adam Kreek (2:56) I’ve been good. It’s been absolutely insane. My life over the last year and a bit, because I focus primarily on live events. So I’ve been migrating to the online world a little bit more. But other than that, you know, families good businesses digging in and leaning forward. So that’s that’s also very positive. How about you?


Brad Wilson (3:23) Same, I mean, just lots of digital stuff over the past year, I would say my life’s not as impacted as your life since you know, you’re traveling around everywhere giving keynote speeches, and that sort of thing. Like what is that transition for you been like to the digital space?


Adam Kreek (3:42) Well, to the digital space, I’ve, I’ve picked up, I’ve leaned more into my consulting practice. So I’ve picked up bigger contracts with medium sized businesses to help them with their, with their marketing, with their development, their leadership development, as well, organizational development and strategy. And then I’ve picked up more one on one executive coaching clients. So having really powerful conversations with individuals, the very achievement oriented, they’re looking to, you know, to earn more, but also, you know, align, you know, align those, what I’d say extrinsic drivers with the intrinsic drivers, you know, all of us have these big drivers in our life where we want to make more money, achieve more status, you know, achieve these goals that can be recognized by others. Yet we also have strong internal drivers that if we don’t listen to them, and we don’t honor our internal truth, when we finally do achieve those extrinsic pieces, then we’re empty and upset, and we can’t climb that next mountain, you know, there’s you to a certain extent there’s, there’s a lot of extrinsic motivation can get you to the top of the first mountain, you know, to win your first national championships to win your first World Championships. That just to beat other people to win, to gain the money, but then to win the second World Championships, that’s hard, especially to do it like the next year. And you need to make sure that your internal energy is aligned with your external, your external motivators. And so that’s, that’s a big piece of what we’re working with as long as well as basic human resources, leadership, personality, interaction, and making sure that you’re building the right organizational structure, the right leadership team, right people, right seats, this sort of thing. But I’m obviously most passionate about alignment between external drivers and internal drivers. And I think that would be quite useful to the people who listen to your podcast, because poker is very, there’s a lot of extrinsic drivers in the game, you know, not that I’m a poker expert, but from an external observation, right? You’re in the gambling, you’re trying to beat people, you’re taking risk. There’s, you want, you want to win the game, there’s a lot of money at stake. You know, the pride status, and all these things are very positive, in my opinion, yet, they can be very destructive. If we don’t use them in alignment with our core motivators, and we don’t have that deeper level of awareness.


Brad Wilson (6:43) And how do we go about figuring out our core drivers, internal drivers about ourselves, so that as we’re achieving as we’re performing, at a high level, we are happy, you know, once we scale the mountains? 


Adam Kreek (7:03) Yeah, well, a big part of it comes from life experience. So you’ve probably heard of the midlife crisis.


Brad Wilson (7:10) I have..


Adam Kreek (7:11) I even experienced a little bit of it yourself.


Brad Wilson (7:16) Maybe, maybe.


Adam Kreek (7:19) And I think that’s it’s a common experience for most of us. And this is the, the midlife crisis is what I would call the the unhappy success, where you achieve what you think that you wanted, you know, stereotypical midlife crisis, you know, I got the great, you know, the wife and the kids and the car and the House and the financial security, and, wow, I’m so empty, and something just doesn’t feel right. So I get rid of the wife and the the kids, and I get rid of the house, and I buy a new car, and I get a girlfriend that’s 20 years younger than me. And I think that I’m happy, because I’ve just found new extrinsic things to chase. But I’m actually medicating a deeper dissatisfaction. That’s beneath me. And so that’s, that’s the stereotypical experience that we see in society, and you can see people who live through it. What the answer is, is reflection. So at a very simple level, it’s looking back to the times when you’ve set a goal, and you’ve achieved that goal. And you’ve been happy with the outcome. And then look back at the times when you set a goal, you’ve not achieved the goal, yet, you found a way to remain happy in that outcome. And I would say, that is the first indicator towards living in alignment. And the way the way I like to look at it is is living your values. So values, in and of themselves, their character traits that we know to be important in life, in business, you know, in our poker playing their character traits and behaviors, that we know that when we express them on a regular basis, we are going to have that inner fire. And we’re going to have that commitment. And we’re going to be motivated, we’re going to be motivated, not just for the destination, but we will be motivated to take the journey as well. And to have motivation on the journey and motivation at the destination, motivation, post destination, right because that’s often when all the energy evaporates. That’s when you no longer have the neurotransmitters of goal achievement, those extrinsic drivers evaporate and that’s when you truly need the intrinsic driver, knowing that you are on your path that you are pursuing your personal truth. So when we talk about values, there’s a long list of values that we can use to articulate, you know, our deeper rumblings. So values, when we say all of us have beliefs in our life, and they’re based on our experiences, they’re based on the political parties, we’ve been exposed to the type of family, we were raised in the religions that we were exposed to the highs and lows of our life. There are so many different, you know, influencers to the beliefs that we hold. And I’m coming from the standpoint that most individuals have healthy beliefs, right. You can have empowering beliefs, or you can have limiting beliefs. You can have rational beliefs, or you can have irrational beliefs. So I’m coming from the thought that the people listening to this are you’ll have a have a firm base, and their beliefs are rational and empowering. disempowering belief is I’m, I’m never going to win this poker match. I never win. Right? That’s catastrophizing. You know, this is based on say cognitive behavioral therapy. David Burns writes a great book called The feeling good handbook, it’s been probably one of the best selling most effective mental health handbooks out there. I’d say, you know, for people who are listeners who loves stoic philosophy, you know, Epictetus turn, you know, train Marcus Aurelius. And then David Burns, took that stuff from the Stoic philosophers and turned it into run it ran it through the rigors of monitored science, and turn it into modern cognitive behavioral therapy. And that’s where we question the thoughts in our mind and the beliefs that we hold. And when we have solid beliefs, we can then understand our values, and the value judgments that we make and make the right decisions. So that we can then start pursuing the goals that matter. And take advantage of extrinsic motivators knowing that our inside is aligned.


Brad Wilson (12:02) So I know you’re a busy guy. And there’s many greatness bombs in what you just said. And I often refer to you on the show, just because, like I said, you, you’re an amazing human being, you’re an inspiring guy, and to the audience, and the listener, most of the things that I’ve built in my business have come directly from doing your value exercise, finding my own values, and what motivates me and what I aspire to do and what resonates with me, and my number one value is impact. And that is something that I’ve, you know, held near and dear to my own heart, throughout everything that I do in this space, I want to have an impact on my listeners poker journey, I want to impact them positively, I want to help I want to, I want to provide them, you know, with a course that they can consume, and at the end of the course, they are impacted positively for the rest of their lives. So just first and foremost, thank you for providing me with the tools to do that value exercise. And if a listener wants to do your value exercise, where can they, you know, go through that?


Adam Kreek (13:18) Well, right now we’re building a course, to allow the listener to go through the values discovery exercise, you know, I do have the worksheets, so maybe it’s just through our relationship and your relationship with the client. So I can send you the new and updated sheets that I run clients through. And then if you can turn it into a lead magnet, or use it for yourself to help engage the clients, and if anyone’s listening, then maybe they reach out to you. And there’s a link that they can download the sheets from you.


Brad Wilson 13:57) Yeah, we we can logistically figure it out after the show, but it’s just meaningful and it’s powerful. And something that I feel like everybody ought to do, because you don’t want to reach the top of the mountain and feel empty, right? Like you don’t want to get there and be like wow, this is not like I imagined it to be which is a thing that like you especially have first hand experience with just in your own journey and with you know, friends, right being an Olympic gold medalist, a world champion multiple times, reaching the top of mountain and being like, is this it? Like what next right Could you tell me about you know, some stories of folks who have reached the top of the mountain but then struggled to once they got there?


Adam Kreek (14:45) Well, I can say in my own personal experience. I call it gold metal syndrome. Where you get everything you thought that you wanted. You know I remember the first time I experienced it, I was heavyweight champion of the world in the men’s eight I’m a Canadian was the first time the men’s aid had ever won the world championships. We were in Spain, Seville, Spain. So picture this, you’re 22 years old, you’ve entered the history books, your heavyweight champion of the world, you’ve done it with your friends, you’re young, you have no idea like you’re the best in the world. That’s pretty good feeling. And it was what was put in front of me, it was the stick that was put in front of me or not the carrot, let me say that was put in front of me, it was I chased it, I wanted it, I would have the mantras, I’d look at pictures in the mirror, I’d look at pictures of the Olympic rings, I’d look at pictures on the wall and close my eyes, I do the visualizations, I chant to myself, I want a gold medal, I want a gold medal, these sorts of things, and I trained my mind to achieve and I was able to achieve, and it was amazing. I’m gonna say, achieved client winning that first World Championships was unbelievable, it was so much better than I could have ever imagined. It was amazing. You know, and the after party was even better. It was it was great. Yep. You know, two weeks later, I’m depressed, lethargic, full of self doubt. questioning my path, I see a lot of work in front of me. And I’m recognizing that, you know, the next part of the journey was long and hard and arduous. And you need to have those intrinsic drivers really stuck in if you want to have the energy for the long haul. Because you’ll have these peak experiences. And I’m imagining that poker player winning, winning the big round winning the pot of money. And, you know, you’ve you’ve made the bluffs properly, you counted the cards properly, you’ve done the training, you’ve done the memorizing you’ve, you’ve recognized the patterns, you’re activating the patterns, you’ve set the limits, you set your own rules and your system, and it’s starting to work. And then all of a sudden, you win a couple of big games. And then you move up to the next level, where you starting to work with other poker players, and it starts to get hard again, and you’re not getting that, you know, the pattern is not working the way that you thought it would work. And so you’re starting to get frustrated, you’re seeing the amount of work that you need to do for you to move from being a 97 percentile poker player to a 98th percentile poker player is going to take exponentially more work, you’re seeing that work, and then the motivation evaporates. So the answer for me at that point in time, you know, like you, you say, one of your values is impact. For me, I like to put an adjective in front of my values. So I call I’ve labeled my impact as generous impact. I want to make sure I’m leaving a generous impact. Yet, my athletic pursuits are nothing about impact, you know, to be the best Olympic athlete you can be, you have to be remarkably selfish. And that’s not I wouldn’t say that’s an either a good thing or a bad thing. It’s simply what it takes. And I would say, that’s what it would require to be the best poker player that you can be, you’ll have to be selfish, you’ll have to make choices, I wouldn’t call them sacrifices, I’d call them decisions that you make of how you live your life, to make sure that your your mental and emotional functions are operating at a at a high level at peak performance. Yet, if there is, you know, if those behaviors are motivated by deeper values, motivation evaporates. And so for me it was it was manifested in depression. Some people manifest it, I’ve seen it in self sabotage. So they’ll start engaging in reckless behavior, self destructive behavior, pursuing addictive substances, numbing the deeper feelings. So examples of, of when you’re pursuing desires instead of values. And I like to say there’s a big differentiation between desires and values. And if your desires are things that can be good, but in in too much, if you have too much of them, they can be very destructive. And we often use desires to numb our feelings or to run away from our personal truth. And that’s a good indicator spending too much time on personal media. spending too much time with pornography, you’re obsessing too much about sex. You’re drinking too much. You’re doing too many drugs, smoking too much pot. There’s these are all indicators And I would say, none of those things I mentioned are bad in and of themselves. But when and they can be useful tools, when we’re in a stressful situation to create space. Yet, as we mature, it’s important to recognize I am creating space because there’s something that is out of alignment. There’s something that’s out of alignment in my life, and I need to get closer to my core being and who I am. And so my answer again, when I was when I was in the Depression, I had some soul searching, I talked to some mentors, I thought through it and realize generous impact was something that night, I couldn’t articulate it like this, I will say, when I was 22. Now that I’m 20 years older, I can articulate it, in hindsight, the what I recognized that I needed to express this value of generous impact. And the solution for me was to become a big brother through big brothers and sisters. And so I went got a criminal records check. Found this little boy didn’t, you know, never had a dad ever in his life. And I was just this, like, this older guy, older male role model. And it was rewarding for all of us, is rewarding for all of us to you know, he benefited I benefited, was a positive experience. And I was actually able, and this is the funny thing that it wasn’t, it wasn’t the core of my plate, right, my core goal was to win an Olympic gold medal was to win another World Championship. And the answer for me to do that was to volunteer has big brothers and sisters. And so different people will have different values of the find different ways to express those values, but you will, you will make value judgments that will push you, if you’ll you will also make value judgments subconsciously. And the goal of values training is to bring the value judgments that you make on a regular basis, up to the conscious out of the subconscious into the conscious, so you recognize the decisions that you’re making, you’d recognize what you’re moving towards. And what you’re moving away from. And when you do recognize that and values in and of themselves are that, you know, they’re positive. You know, they’re, you know, they can be virtuous even. And their decisions that when you move towards them, it gives you more energy. Now, they’re the cause if anyone’s ever done StrengthsFinder experience that gets close to that. It’s a cousin of strength. Other people who are interested in character, right character is like a muscle that you train. So if you say that there’s values can afford the character that you want to embody the character that you want to live, and how you want to express that in your career, in your family, in your community life. And so the, that was the solution. And that’s what worked for me. I’ve also seen it in executive coaching clients, a coaching client. seat in the head of marketing, at a marketing head, had the goal wanted to be like chief marketing officer didn’t have the title had the role and the responsibility in this wealth management firm, right, billions of dollars, assets under management. You know, the company is growing. And a lot of the growth is coming from the genius of this marketing guy. He’s very extrinsically motivated, you know, wants the status, wanted to ownership in the company, wanted to make more money, and was really driven his career but was finding his manifestation of not living a values driven life was shown through anxiety, or anxiousness. Just feeling almost having emotional breakdowns, there’s so much anxiety, wanting to have this and wanting to have that, and I’m not achieving this, and I’m not getting recognized. And we went through the values discovery exercise. And for him, one of the key values that came out was that he wanted to be respected. You know, respect was a was a key value in his life in his career. And he wasn’t quite he wasn’t receiving that in his company in his career. And so once we recognize that he was able to actually train his boss and train his colleagues, to give him the respect that he needed. He was able to create a principle he created a new principle in his life to be direct, yet diplomatic, direct and diplomatic. That turned out because he was As he could often he is very personable guy who had often move towards the making people feel good versus telling them what they need to know. So direct, yet diplomatic. And by doing this, we work together. His anxiety went from what he would say 12 out of 10 to like a five or six out of 10, where it’s moves from being incapacitated to actually being a motivating force, functional, not high functioning, anxiety, anxiety, but functional, thank functional anxiety. But I’d say, you know, anxiety can be helpful in your life if you harness it, and it’s not too overwhelming. So he’s able to one understand a principle based on his value, his values that he was able to follow, and to help train the behaviors of people around him, it got him more respect, the respect that he needed to feel like he was in alignment. And the result of this was that he was offered ownership in the firm. He was given the title and the promotion, and his salary has increased. And it was, to a certain age that he wanted all those things. And it’s funny, he set the goal, but then he had to let go of the goal. And leave it and turn that goal into an intention and focus on the values so that he could start working on himself, so that he was working on the journey and growing himself in the journey. And the results started to happen. The results, and they weren’t causing anxiety, they’re, in fact, they’re motivating, and they’re inspiring. And then when he got them, he wasn’t getting, like he thought he wanted the status. But really, he wanted the respect. And once he got the title, now he knows if I can use this title to get more respect, then it’s not going to mindfuck me. And it’s not going to self destruct me because often we think and I wrote about this in the book responsibility, like wealth, sex and beauty, and, and status. These are all very good things. Yep, they’re extrinsic motivators, they drive us from the outside. And if they’re not in alignment with our values, and when we finally get them, we were empty, we self destruct. And we like we see this all the time. Now, Robin Williams, a great example of someone who had had the status. Now he was able to, you know, live the life that he wanted to live. He had all the money that he wanted, yet was very deeply sad and disturbed, ending his life, someone who’s similar to him as Jim Carrey, I really enjoy watching his journey. And if you dig into his life story, where he was very externally motivated, very extrinsically, motivated, motivated by his craft, motivated by the attention, the achievement, 


Brad Wilson (28:09) That famous story of him, like writing himself, I believe it was like a 10 million or a $50 million check. Like, before he had done anything, and basically said that 10 years from now, or something like that, he’s just, he’s gonna cash this check. And he did, actually, he he met that goal.


Adam Kreek (28:29) And it’s inspiring, he met that goal. And he went down the road, right? He went, had sex with tons of different women, had lots of different relationships, and had all the status and the fame won Academy Awards. And of the best things that he he would say is that, you know, what I wish is that everyone could get everything they had ever wanted, and wished for so that you can see, this is not the answer. And, you know, some of his later pieces where he’s got the big beard, and he’s waxing philosophically, he gives a great, he got into Transcendental Meditation craze, a great, great lecture at the Maharishi University. A commencement speech, it’s definitely worth watching, where he he talks about being in touch with with your personal truth essentially, you know, taking the time to meditate to has to, you know, to connect with with with higher spiritual forces or or deeper level intelligence, however you want to look at it. It’s definitely worth to watch and very inspiring.


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Brad Wilson (30:27) So, I did have some things prepared, but I’m enjoying this value breakdown. Very, very, very much. I did want to ask you. So you talked about winning a world championship, when you’re 22 becoming a big brother. And I know that in your story, there were there was a future struggle, a really big failure. Could you tell the listener about that really big failure, and then how that affected you how it affected your motivation, your sense of self. And you know how ultimately you recovered?


Adam Kreek (31:08) Well, I can think of two failures when you say that, because the others one failure.


Brad Wilson (31:15) Not the Bermuda Triangle failed after Bermuda triangle. 


Adam Kreek (31:17) Now I’m thinking of a Olympic failure. But I’m also thinking of the failure of self where it expressed itself in drinking a giant bottle of absinthe and getting lost on a mountain. So I’m curious which one is..


Brad Wilson (31:34) The Olympic failure, we’ve broken down the absent on my other podcast across process, it exists out there. So let’s talk about the Olympic, the Olympic failure.


Adam Kreek (31:43) So the Olympic failure. It was a sad failure. It was a failure that I didn’t feel like I. Well, I learned and grew from it. But it wasn’t the kind of failure that once it was done. I had a deeper level of contentment, and was able to just keep driving afterwards because it was I felt like the failure was in alignment with my values. It wasn’t. So we had we had won the world championships. 2002, Seville, Spain, we went to Milan, Italy, again, won the world championships, we won multiple World Cups, there’s a big regatta in Henley, England, called the Henley Royal Regatta, one that the men’s eight. So we kept on winning and winning and winning. Then we went to the Olympics. We had some issues in the trainings center beforehand, some personality issues, some team issues, again, some motivation issues, which I think had, we’ve been more aware of the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. And maybe sometimes you just have to live it, to learn it. But I can see your stroke seat had a massive breakdown. And he was he’s an incredible athlete, very aggressive, very assertive, very driven, very opinionated. Yet, after we had won the second World Championships, all he saw was work. And he’s like, what’s the difference? What’s the difference between winning another World Championship and I just see all the work in the effort. And the other piece was that because he was so dominant, there is other very dominant personalities in the training center. You know, I would say I’m moderately dominant, this guy was very dominant. Right? So aggressive, combative, very committed to his ideas, at times, overconfident. And there were other people like that. And when and they started, when you start winning, the dominant people start to attack you, and they start to fight you, and it becomes very difficult, becomes very difficult, and you’re in a very competitive environment. So here we are having these dominant personalities in within my boat. So I had the we had technically the captain who sat behind me, andrew hoskins, who was very had a very dominant personality as well. And then Jeff Powell, who sat in front of me, who was the stroke man, he was also very dominant himself. So they are fighting you know, alpha battles, right? Alphas trainer,


Brad Wilson (34:39) Output each other..


Adam Kreek (34:41) Output each other, right, and it’s doesn’t quite work on a team environment always can. Can you actually need that you need that to drive the team, but it needs to be harnessed in a way that’s appropriately and alpha battles are freaking exhausting. Take a lot of energy, a lot of emotional energy, a lot of spiritual energy. So what was happening is that what I would say is that Jeff’s extrinsic motivators of being the alpha of wind to be at the peak of the pyramid, top of the hierarchy wasn’t backed up with deeper core values. And he had a mate, he had a breakdown and a meltdown was like, I’m done, I quit. I don’t want to do this, and he kind of waffled in misery. For months, we managed to put it back together, we put back the boat together, and we figure out a way to make it go and he was such a great athlete, and you need that you need that aggression. need that aggression on your team to get out in front to keep the lead. Make sure the training is proper. Yep. What we experienced we had our went to Athens, Greece, we had our heat. We lost to the Americans by less than a second, the Americans broke the world record, we broke the world record, that the Americans beat us in the heat, which meant we had to go to the Rep Ashad.


Brad Wilson (36:14)  

What does that mean? 


Adam Kreek (36:16) Rep Ashad is a second chance heat. So if you don’t win the heat, if you win the heat, you go straight to the final, all the other boats that don’t win the heat, go to the Rep Ashad and then the top four boats in the Rep Ashad Go to the final. So you either have two races at the Olympics or three races. We love so we got second place in the heat went to the rep Ashad. In the rep Ashad halfway through. Jeff Powell had an injury, injured his PEC muscle. We went through the process of you know, the medical staff looked at it. And they were you know, they said, If Jeff feels fine, he can do it. He can. But I sat right beside him behind him in the boat. I noticed there’s sharpness that was left in the boat. That was like he didn’t have the sharpness of blade he didn’t have the sharpness of stroke wasn’t able to accelerate wasn’t able to apply that the way did our boat ended up falling apart in the final. Did you have an alternate? We did have alternates? Yeah, we could have put someone, you know, could have taken one of the guys from the four or the pair, put them in the eight could have shifted around the boat order. There are a lot of other things we could have done. What we ended up deciding to do was keep the lineup the same. And we sat. And I’d say this was another thing I learned was about teamwork, and leadership and, and being able to exercise your opinion, express your opinion, I didn’t have a very strong opinion muscle at that point in time. As you’re towards collaboration, making sure the team was working together, you know, being direct, yet diplomatic. So stepping up making sure that you’re expressing yourself in a way that’s respectful of others, and is bringing the truth to the table so that you can have an intelligent discussion about what is actually happening. So that wasn’t that didn’t happen. I remember we sat around. The coach asked us if we had any suggestions, no one had any suggestions. So we just, we lean because Jeff was one of the dominant personalities in our team. We’ve been done with Jeff and Jeff obviously wanted to race up. It’s his Olympics. It’s Olympic experience. That’s his bias. So, you know, don’t fault him for that he’s going to advocate for himself, you know, as we all should. The coach very much. He trusted the medical staff, and he wanted his main thing was that was about personal belief, personal belief in and we need to make sure that we are making decisions for ourselves and doing what we wanted to do as a crew. And so he put it out to us. And what our decision as a crew was no changes that stick with it. Let’s do the final and there we were. We did the race. We fell apart. And it was crushing. It was crushing. It was disappointing. Though we got off the Line Americans took us and then the Aussies came through as the Dutch came through us. And I think we finished fifth in that final when I think with right mindset, we would have been second maybe given them push for the first place. But we completely fell apart. And that was the that was the devastating part. wasn’t that we finished fifth in the world is that our potential was so much higher, especially if you’re someone who has high personal standards of not achieving? What, you know, you’re possible, it’s really crushing. So there we finished it. And it was, you know, I remember crossing the finish line, you’re absolutely exhausted, you’ve put your whole life into this, you’re still relatively young, I was just sobbing, sobbing and crying as opportunity last night, and it was not a just was guilt or shame or lost opportunity. Now there’s, there was so much that could have been that never was. And afterwards, it was, it was crushing was depressing. And it was very shameful, actually, you know, the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is I’ve done something wrong, where shame is, there’s something wrong with me. So I felt personally shameful. I felt like there was something wrong with me that I wasn’t able to elevate, I wasn’t able to perform, I wasn’t able to deliver at that moment. And I’d say, guilt is probably healthier than shame because you have easy to recover from because at the core, you believe that you have what it takes at shame is just your flawed, dysfunctional human. And it took me a couple of years to process through them to be able to know as highly triggered, what you’re watching that race for, I couldn’t watch it, I think I watched it, maybe 10 years afterwards, saw the race again, and you see everything fall apart. And it’s painful to watch, but not shameful to watch. Whereas when it first happened, it would have been too much too much to handle because of the just because of the emotional load associated with it. And the process, and again, I’m gonna get back to let’s get back to the values when we talk about desires, and how we use different behaviors and substances to numb our deeper feelings and numb our emotions. And I was certainly doing that afterwards. alcohol and marijuana, two substances I’d like to use, definitely sex as well afterwards, try and run away from that shame to numb the emotions, not feel bad about myself, and not feel the emotions, not feel them properly. And understand the you know, the underlying value that was violated. And change. Change is not a crisis and loss is not a crisis. And failure itself isn’t a crisis unless you violated a core value. So within that moment, the nine would say that moment, the years, the years of of shame and failure after that, I came to realize that there were a couple of core values that were violated one being a loving connection. And say one of my core values is loving connection, I want to have loving connection with the people I interact with, I do my best to create that with my family with my core group of friends. And with that loss, I lost touch with a group of men who had become my brothers. And that loss almost tore us apart. And I also value objective achievement. And so I wasn’t able to actively say that I have achieved something of value. And cognitively, in, in retrospect, I now can because I’ve processed the emotions, and I’ve actually learned from that failure have grown from that failure. And I’ve applied those lessons to my life. But the you’re the first step of learning and when you’re dealing with failure is is to give yourself give yourself permission to feel everything. And I call the process reflect, learn, grow, let it go. The first step is reflection. So give yourself space give yourself time to sit and to process to feel. Processes I’ve used processes for Interviews clients have used Primal Rage therapy, going out to the woods, screaming, and picking up some sticks and just beating the shit out of a tree. Getting getting a sledgehammer, bam, break, break, break up that rock, anger, rage, and


feel the feelings, shame. Lean into them, and have, you kind of have a safe space in which you can express them and feel them. And it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to lean into his feelings and highly vulnerable. It’s scary, especially at that point in time, you think you’re the only one who has dealt, you know, that’s one of the lies, we tell ourselves, I’m the only one who’s ever dealt with this. I’m the only one who’s ever had to go into this pit. If anyone knew that I was dealing with this, you know, there’s another layer, like, I’m not just a che, like, my emotions aren’t scaring me, but having the amount of shame that other people might know that I have these emotions. And, and, you know, maybe it’s the status thing, I’m like, if people knew I had this, then I’m not gonna be able to achieve the status schools I have, I’m not going to be able to achieve the monetary goals I have, because I might be perceived as weak. Or there’s, you know, there’s some truth to that. But there’s also some lies in that too. But you have to parse out another, you know, there’s a noble instinct as well, you don’t want to be raging around the ones you love, all the time. And you don’t want them to have to bear the load of your your psychological trauma want to be able to express in a way that’s healthy. And, and work through it. Because the body holds pain, the body holds, holds trauma. And there’s there’s an element of me that thinks the injury that our stroke seat had, in 2004, was almost an embodiment of the trauma he was holding, because he wasn’t living his values, he was too extrinsically motivated. And that could have influenced the injury. And I’ve also noticed in my own personal life, when I’m living out of alignment, I’ll get, I’ve got a bad back of herniated discs in my back. And when I’m living out of alignment with my core values, I get more injured, my body starts to ache more, it starts to fall apart on me. And it’s this is psycho spiritual, physical connection. We are more strong when we are grounded in our authentic self. And so when we’re dealing with failure, the first step, which takes a lot of time, is the reflection step. And it can be scary, if you’ve never done it, you know, sometimes you need therapy. Other times you just need time alone, you know, a journaling, practice, a close friend, a safe space, whatever you need, and it can take a short time or a long time. But going through that process allows you to then learn from your failure. You know, one of the things I learned from the failure in Athens is to make sure that I’m setting goals and achieving goals, in alignment with my values, and I’m living those values. You know, had I understood how deeply important loving connection was to me, I would have taken the action afterwards to reconnect with all my teammates to process what had happened to keep those relationships strong so that afterwards those relationships were maintained that didn’t just fade away into the ether. And it would have been a more rewarding experience afterwards. You’ll see have you have learnings, you know, other learnings, if you train in a temperate climate in like the Pacific Northwest, and the you go and you race in a very hot humid climate like Athens, Greece, the warm up times you need are very different. So there’s a very actual real, physical, applicable learning warmup times, you know, 19 to 20 minutes in Athens, 45 minutes in Victoria, British Columbia, north of Seattle, where were we trained? And different different times because it’s different climates, body responds differently. So you have those learnings and then you grow, right? You incorporate that into your actions, your habits, your behaviors, and and then the failure doesn’t. You no longer have that shame. You only have that guilt. You no longer have that baggage and the failure than being something that for me, when people would mention the Olympic the Athens race, my face would turn red, I’d be embarrassed I wouldn’t drink away from it. Whereas now when people talk about it, it’s a cognitive exercise. It’s, you know, it’s a story to be told. It’s, it’s a fascinating thing to talk about. It doesn’t have that emotional load. Because it’s, it’s, it’s been excised, but the reflection and the learning and the growing of excised it. And now it’s just the thing. It’s, it can, it’s even a badge of honor, you can wear.


Brad Wilson (50:29) And I think that, that embarrassment and shame is another lie, right? Like it’s another, it’s another lie that we tell ourselves that, you know, you’re embarrassed because of your failure. But the truth is, our failures make us more relatable. And because all of us are struggling, we all have our own personal struggles, we all have the things that we’re dealing with and trying to overcome. And we’ve all experienced failure on some level. And when you’re an elite athlete, that wins World Championship after World Championship gold medal, after gold medal, it’s almost not relatable to other human beings. But when you fail, right, and then you’re resilient, you overcome, you come back, you learn, you grow, you know that that is inspiring. 


Adam Kreek (51:28) I just want to build on that and say that within each of us has, we have the fear of failure. And like you see the motivational quotes, and it feels cheesy, especially when you’re when you’re young, because you haven’t lived through the experience. But the motivational quotes live on. Because, you know, through age through experience, you go into the pits of hell, you meet the devil, and you come out the other side. And that’s where the glimmers of wisdom are. But this idea of fear of failure, fear of failure comes, comes from this fact of that, of often, your failure comes from, from delivering success. And I work with a lot of people like that, you know, they got great marks in school. And then they got into graduate school. And they, they they graduated from graduate school with with honors, and then they get an incredible job. And they start moving through this job, and they start making it having an incredible career path. And they’ve had success after success after success. And now they don’t take any risks. They won’t take the risks, they won’t take the lateral move, they won’t jump into the new, and they won’t take the risk because they’ve had such a streak of victory. And success can create as much fear of failure as the fear of failure itself. That you’re having experienced failure, knowing how much it hurts and how much it goes through your pain you go through yet, you know the answer. Coming back to the idea of values is that when you know how to fail in alignment with your values, the failure doesn’t hurt nearly as much. And that’s how you can take risks. And I don’t know how like, I’m starting to think like how do I bring that back to poker game? And how could I use easy values awareness. So


Brad Wilson (53:21) Tony, teach, let me translate for you. So how we bring it back to Poker is I’ll talk a little bit about my story, and a little bit of shame that I’ve had in my poker career. So at any stake that I’ve played in, in my poker career, I’ve been one of the best players in the pool. I’ve had one of the highest win rates i for over a period of probably five years, I had one losing month playing poker. And I stopped pressing, I lost the hunger that I had early on of playing bigger testing myself finding out what I made of to well, now I’m making a few $100,000 a year, and that’s good. So let’s just keep doing that instead of pressing and trying to level up and battle people that would have made me stronger, that would have made me a more complete poker player. And ultimately, ultimately, what ended up happening was, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I left millions of dollars on the table over the course of those years. By not. I don’t want to say pressing it or taking unnecessary risks, but not taking enough risks, tolerable risks that were uncomfortable. It is not comfortable to lose 10 to $20,000 in a single day. But when your bankroll can withstand that, where you have connections in the poker world that are more than willing to help you out, the risk is quite low, quite frankly, the risk is very, very low. And, you know, I just got to the point where like, I don’t want to fail, I don’t want to move up to this, I don’t want to find a stake that I can’t beat. And, yeah, it’s a very real thing. And that’s something that has caused me shame and something that I’m currently moving out of right, like, even after 17 years, through, yeah, just through some of the people that are in my inner circle. But yeah, it’s a thing that like, it happens. And it’s almost, when you’re going through it as a high performer, you don’t really even understand the forces at work that are in play here, especially if you’ve always kind of been on your own. But certainly in the pokers. In the poker sense, that’s what it would look like it’s having long term success at a level that you’re comfortable with, where you’re making more money than most everybody that you know, anyway. So you also have this like, internal thing of like, am I just being greedy? Is this just like greed driving me like, shouldn’t I just be happy and fulfilled with how I’m doing right now. But ultimately, when you’re grinding, and doing the same thing, and it’s, it’s not stimulating, it becomes boring. Then resentment grows, you find yourself struggling to log on, you find yourself struggling to put in volume, you find yourself making any excuse in the world to not perform, Oh, you want to go on a walk, let me just call this friend right before I fire up to see how they’re doing. And then you have a two hour phone call, right? Just doing anything that you can to not get in the arena. Because it doesn’t feel the same way that it used to feel when you first started playing.


Adam Kreek (56:51) Yeah, it’s the it’s the shift. Or you’re talking about the shift the shift from that extrinsic motivator, you know, and poker is interesting, because it’s, it’s so extrinsically, give driven, it’s gambling, people get addicted to it, young people get addicted to it yet. It’s a verifiable career that can be that you can be successful at what you’ve proven, which is I find fascinating and even inspiring. And this idea of where you’ve come back to this idea of impact, and the impact that you want to give back. And I’m curious to see when you look through the lens of impact, does that allow you to take bigger risks, to think, Hmm, if I try this strategy, I’m going to learn from it. And then I can translate it into a teaching that I can then share with my community share with my people.


Brad Wilson (57:48) Everything changed for me. In December, I interviewed one of the most successful and inspiring poker players in my mind of all time, Jason Koon. He comes from West Virginia, a very poor, poor and violent upbringing. And he’s risen through the ranks in the poker world to playing the highest of nosebleed stakes to winning $30 million plus in poker tournaments, being an old time legend. And he came on the podcast, and when we shut it down, we had an after conversation, like I do a lot of times with my my guests. And I was telling him about my business and what I was doing. And, you know, he just said, he said, Don’t you want to do great things, right? Like, I see all this work. It’s inspiring to me everything that you’re doing, like you want this to be great, right? And it was then that I just said, Fuck, yeah, I do. And it was this moment of like, you know what, I am doing a lot of work. And I do want this to be great. And I do want it to be huge, and I do want it to be impactful. And that was like that, that like lightbulb moment of like, let’s stop pretending to myself that I’m just trying to like skate by and you know, make it right. Let’s try to create the fucking best thing that I can and take risks and verbalize, I want to be the greatest Poker Coach of all time. I want to create the greatest, most impactful products that I can for my people. And that was game changing for me. I’ve I’ve told my private coaching students, I don’t think I’ve said it on the podcast, but and we will break here because you have a hard stop in one minute, right? Yes. So we’re fucked.


Adam Kreek (59:47) For good. It’s like it’s interesting. And the I find the the Insight fascinating. I feel like we should keep Talking for.


Brad Wilson (1:00:01) We could let me let me wrap this up and then we’ll call to action and end if that’s okay. Yes, yeah, let’s do it. But anyway, after, after having the conversation with Jason Koon, like, I had been considering quitting, quitting the whole deal, the podcasting, the coaching everything. Because last year was not a great year financially, it was a very, my worst year as a, an adult, because I invested all my time into the podcasts and the business. And I had these existential questions of like, do I want to keep doing this is this worth it, like, I can just go back plug right into playing poker, and I’m leaving so much money on the table. And after I had that conversation with Jason Koon, I told my wife give me until April 1. And my goal is to make 32k and profit. And if I don’t, I’m done. Like, I’m not going to, I’m not going to spin my wheels, I’m not going to just keep working on shit that like, is not moving the business forward. And if I’m not going to do that, then I may as well just go back to playing poker. And from that day, that was my focus, impacting more people reaching that my financial goal so that I could keep doing this thing that I love so much, because I let’s get it straight. I love doing this. I love coaching people I love just I love all of it. And on March 30, I ran the numbers. And my profit was $32,800. So I squeaked by passed it by $800. And, you know, it was that switch that got flipped when Jason said to me, like, but you’re working towards great things, right? Like you’re working on something that will change so many people’s lives. And I just realized, like, yeah, I am, and I want it, you know, I want it bad. So bad that like, yeah, I can taste it, I’m willing to work 60 hours a week, 7080 hours a week to get it done. Like I’m just willing to do whatever it takes. And when I had that reframing, yeah, everything changed, the business exploded. And ever since then everything’s been going, you know, super, super well.


Adam Kreek (1:02:17) Well, that’s, that’s inspiring. And that’s like, what I’m hearing is alignment. What I’m hearing is purpose, what I’m hearing is value values, drive, I’m hearing that you’ve got a good sense of, of what you believe. And, again, coming back to this value of impact that you have, and, you know, as people, as you as you teach more and coach more from your personal truth, you have a bigger impact, and you achieve more greatness, and you help other people achieve more greatness. And it’s only going to spiral more and more out of control as as people learn about you, and learn what they can learn from you. So that’s an amazing story.


Brad Wilson (1:03:04) Inspiring. And so when I appreciate it, and it’s always inspiring having you on, you know, we didn’t get around to some of the the other performance stuff, but I think we hit on the most powerful, important takeaway for the listener. And I’ll ask you, you know, are you working on any projects near and dear to your heart? And then to wrap up, where can the listener find more about Adam Kreek on the worldwide web.


Adam Kreek (1:03:31) Project closest to my heart right now is a values discovery course. The plan is to launch it in the fall. This year. I’ve secured a broadcasting contract to be a commentator for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. I’m really excited about that. So I’m going to have a podcast where I’m interviewing rowers. So if you want to dig into the world of rowing, look for that podcast, the where people can find me on the web. I’m most active on Twitter and LinkedIn, where Twitter after wax, philosophical, and get some engagements that way. I enjoy making jokes. With you, Brad on Twitter, fun joking around and LinkedIn. Similar? No, that’s, you know, there is an element of business development there on LinkedIn. That’s where I get a lot of my executive coaching clients. So if you’re, you’re interested in personal leadership, self leadership, leading others, that’s, that’s where you can follow me, interact with me.


Brad Wilson (1:04:46) And there is a ton of overlap in the high performance poker space that I think I can see the connections and I could see just the value of having you as a performance coach, a leadership coach, somebody that can help a high performer out in this space. Like, I just, I intuitively see it, I know it, I recognize it. And so if you’re a high performing poker player, I don’t know if you have slots available or space or however it works, but maybe they can work something out and highly recommend the value exercise at the value course whenever whenever it comes to fruition.


Adam Kreek (1:05:28) And we’ll send you the PDFs and you can figure out how you can distribute it to your people. Awesome, and.


Brad Wilson (1:05:35) I appreciate it. Have a good rest of your day. Grateful as always, we’ll do this again. We’ll do this again in as near future as we can.


Adam Kreek (1:05:44) Yeah, sounds good, Brad. Until next time.


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Thanks for reading this transcript of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 158: Adam Kreek: High Performance Jedi, Olympic Gold Medalist, And Bestselling Author

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