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[00:00:00]

It was kind of around the same question, like, why are you here, why and what do you want to do? Is that even important to you? And I did not have an answer, there was no kind of clearing of the skies, there was no lightning bolt and like all of a sudden sunshine, oh, you should go become an Olympic athlete, know that it was really at its most principled. You have a decision. Do you think that you could do something spectacular in the sport, that you try that, do you like it?

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Are you making this decision because of your dad? Are you making this decision because of yourself?

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Hello and welcome. I'm Shane Parrish, and you're listening to the Knowledge Project, this podcast and our website, F-stop blog, help you sharpen your mind by mastering the best what other people have already figured out. If you enjoy this podcast, we've created a premium version that brings you even more. You'll get ad free versions of the show, early access to episodes and transcripts and so much more. If you want to learn more now, head on over to F-stop Blogs podcast or check out the show notes for a link.

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This week I'm talking with Apollo Ohno and eight time Winter Olympics medalist. Apollo dominated this sport of short track speedskating for over a decade and was a legendary competitor.

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He's also a New York Times best selling author. In this conversation, we talk about growing up with a single parent, the role of self sabotage and recovering from multiple failures, mindsets and mental training where confidence comes from and so much more. It's time to listen and learn.

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The Knowledge Project is sponsored by Medlab for a decade, Medlab has helped some of the world's top companies and entrepreneurs build products that millions of people use every day. You probably didn't realize that at the time, but odds are you've used an app that they've helped design or build apps like Slack, Coinbase, Facebook Messenger, Oculus, Lonely Planet and many more. Medlab wants to bring their unique design philosophy to your project. Let them take your brainstorm and turn it into the next billion dollar app from ideas sketched on the back of a napkin to a final ship product.

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Check them out at Medlab Dutko. That's Metal Abaco. And when you get in touch, tell them Shane sent you.

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When The New Yorker magazine asked Mark Zuckerberg what news source he follows, his only answer was Techmeme. For 15 years, Techmeme has been the Internet's go to tech news source. The Techmeme Ride Home is a daily podcast only 15 to 20 minutes long. And it's all the headlines, all the tweets, all the chatter around what happened each day. In the world of tech, it's like TDR as a service for the tech obsessed listen to religiously by the tech elite.

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Search your podcast app now for Ride Home and subscribe to the Techmeme Ride Home podcast.

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This episode is also brought to you by 80, 20, 80, 20 is a new agency focused on helping great companies move faster without code. The team at 80 20 can build your next app or website in a matter of days, not months.

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Better yet, they can do it at a fraction of the cost. You walk away with a well-designed, custom tailored solution that you could tweak and maintain all by yourself without the need to hire expensive developers.

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So if you've got an app or website idea or you're just ready for a change of pace from your current agency, let the team at 80 20 show you how no code can accelerate your business. Check them out at 80 20 dot hink that's eight zero two zero dot eye and see. Paulo, man, how are you? I'm good, I'm in I'm in Los Angeles, I've been quarantined since March. I think it's March 7th. So it's been an interesting process, to say the least.

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This conversation has been something I've wanted to do for a long time. And thank you. I'm a big fan of your of your of your process in the way that you interview the guests that you've brought on. It's been it's actually been deeply valuable to know my personal life. But I actually have suggested and recommended your your work to a lot of friends who are who are looking for what I would consider to be high quality and produce content that is increasingly more important today than ever before.

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So thank you and thank you for the dedication here.

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That's really generous of you. Let's just dive in. Men like you grew up with a single parent.

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What was the biggest thing you would say you learned from your father, the single or the one single thing? But the lessons that my father taught me, I think stem from him being an immigrant from Japan, not having access to financial resources like many who come to this country, but really relied on the one thing that he had, which was his work ethic. And that work ethic and that consistency of work ethic remained a constant theme in my life.

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And then when you attach that with your father always and continuously communicating to you that you can be anything that you want, nothing can ever stop you from achieving anything, regardless of whether you win, lose or fall short. Your job is to continuously get back up and keep attacking and learn from those mistakes. And my dad is not an amazing businessman. He never was. He's he's a business owner. My dad owns a hair salon in downtown Seattle still to this day.

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And he does it for all the reasons outside of what usually are extraordinarily motivating. He does it because he loves connecting with the community and he does it because he likes to work it. That's that's what drives him is going and having a place that he feels he can contribute to. And I didn't notice that at the time. But growing up, the constant theme was that my father pushed upon me this belief system that you are unlimited in your potential.

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I think over time you believe that. Do you think the work ethic thing is like learned or is it sort of like inherited it like genetically somehow?

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I'm sure that there's some there's some encoding of some DNA as some kind of a hard wiring level that enables you or your previous experiences that you've inherited.

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I would I would bet on that. I also believe it can be trained. It's obviously much different. Right. So if your natural, innate, instinctive response is to just grind and have that kind of growth mindset and really thrive and grit, grit, components and processes, I think that that's easier. But I think that it can be trained just like anything. But I do believe that it's a combination of both that seems to yield the greatest output.

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You started short track speed skating at 12, I think, and then you went on to become the most decorated American athlete at the Winter Olympics. Can you describe the event for people unfamiliar with short track speed skating? Sure, short track speed skating is is ice speed skating on a Olympic size hockey rink, they skate around these blocks in an oval pattern instead of traditional long track speed skating that is skated on a four hundred meter oval. And you're really racing against the clock.

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So imagine a traditional track and field but covered in ice and then you just race to see how fast you could go. This is a race in which there's several other competitors on the same start line. There's a lot of strategy, a lot of passing and jostling for position. And it is a equally exciting and volatile sport that is similar to that of like a car race. So you can run the same race several times over and short track and probably get several different winners just because of the different strategies and techniques associated.

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You probably will have the same type of individuals in the final, but you can run it several times. And even the fractions of a second of strategy changes or hesitation can can dramatically go from first to last. And typically the races are skated around one hundred eleven meter oval, but there's a 500 meter, a one thousand meter and a fifteen hundred meters. And then there's the relay, which looks very confusing to most people who are watching for the first time for teams of four on the ice.

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And you're kind of racing around doing one and a half lap exchanges. So the sport itself is, I would say the commentator and certain people say it's the American NASCAR on ice right there, kind of spinning around and racing around at these impossible angles, leaning over, doing these pivots on one foot and going thirty five to forty miles an hour on one leg and accelerating and passing. And it's the sport that I grew up in and loved, but it's a very obscure sport and it's not widely celebrated here in the United States as it is in Asia or Canada or Canada.

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That's right. How did you get into this like you were in the Pacific Northwest?

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It's like like I can imagine it being big in Vancouver, almost like in Seattle.

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Yeah, it was not big in Seattle. I saw the sport on television when I was 12 years old with my father watching the Olympic Games. My dad was looking for any outlet he possibly could that would give me a positive direction in which to channel my energy. He didn't care what sport it was, as long as it wasn't like a football or a boxing, like where there was a risk for head trauma or injury. Everything else is pretty much every game.

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And I saw the sport and my dad said, sure, I'll allow you to kind of jump in. I actually learned how to speed skate from my father, driving me from Seattle to Vancouver and to Burnaby and to Calgary, which is, by the way, which is a very long drive. And that that's that's really how I learn. I learned by watching and mimicking and copying what I saw and then applying that in a way that I felt like was natural to my body.

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And so I didn't. When I first saw the sports object speed skating, I didn't know what it was like. I mean, it looked very cool and fun as a 12 year old, 13 and 14 year old on television. But until you see it live, that's when the real change happens, because these these athletes lean over on this clean glass sheet at these really impossible angles. And they're just whipping around in this hockey game. And it looks and it doesn't look real until you see it.

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And, you know, as a twelve year old, to me, they look like superhero figures wearing these like aerodynamic outfits just racing around. And they were wearing samurai swords. So that's how I learned how to speed skate was really driving up north from Seattle to Vancouver, which was like two and a half hour drive from my house. And I learned by just watching and competing against the Canadians.

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And then you get really good, right? So at fourteen, you became the youngest US national champion. And that was I think you started training at 13 pretty seriously, is that right?

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I would say fourteen. Fourteen, but then there was a lot of self sabotage and hiccups between there and the Olympics.

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Yeah. Can you walk me through some of that? Because it seemed like you had all this natural ability and you were just innately really good at this thing. Right. Like you took to it. Naturally, you went from not having done it to sort of like us national champion. You're fourteen years old and you hadn't really put in the work on that.

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And that's the I think that's the crux of of of it. All right. Is at the age of 14, I had moved from Seattle to upstate New York. I was invited to be a part of this junior development Olympic Training Center program in Lake Placid, New York. And it was a hyperconnected environment in which they would take kind of the junior youth skaters and then propel them along the path towards making an actual Olympic team I. So fast in that first year that within, I think seven little over seven months, I went from essentially becoming unknown to anyone in the World Cup circuit international circuit or even the US circuit to then go into the world team trials, winning the competition.

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Which was very strange and awkward because I was beating grown men who were double my age and who had been in the sport for their entire lives, and I was just like young punk kid who didn't understand or know anything about really the sport or sacrifice or dedication.

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I was just going purely on raw talent that's being instigated by some structured training which would give me these leaps and bounds. So that naivete of me kind of looking at the sport and looking at an athlete and thinking like, I don't really I know this. Everyone tells me this guy is really fast or he's he's a really high performer. I don't really see how that's possible because I don't think he's that good. So it's that that kind of young cockiness and also naivete that exists that is also really beautiful and strong because I didn't know what I didn't know.

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And I also never tasted pure failure and defeat after wanting something so badly for so many years and not not receiving it.

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And so everything I did, I was excelling at in the sport very early. And that was a really, really kind of big change, you know, seven years it would be before I could ever go drinking with the team. I mean, legally, right. I would be on the team for seven more years as the captain of the team before we could even go at the banquet, break bread and share a beer or an adult beverage, so to speak.

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So it was psychologically that was I always liken it to like a child actor who reaches a tremendous amount of success at an early age and doesn't really understand the path or process of why or how they're doing it, because it seems so natural and almost easy. And then what you do after that point can greatly determine your path and trajectory moving forward. And you talked about self self sabotage. I've had my bouts with self sabotage almost my entire career as an athlete and even I think post career as as a human.

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And these are probably deeper psychological kind of traits and micro traumas that I think we all deal with on a day to day basis as we grow as humans. And the way that they expose themselves in my life as an Olympic athlete was I started to thrive and desire being at rock bottom and then coming back from that. And I don't know, you know, I have some beliefs and ideology.

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Yeah. Like, where does that come from? Like that you want to get so close to failure or even fail and then work your way out of it.

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Like, that's the challenge. Is that the appeal?

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Yeah. So I think it's it goes at a deep level where I somehow associated the impossible.

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So being in an impossible position and then coming up out of that impossible position to actually achieve the impossible against a series of three Canadians, three Chinese and three Koreans in the race who are all working together to beat me and I somehow still when there was something very spectacular that seemed to associate with that. Right.

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Your two, but your two strikes, you know, you bases loaded. This is the last inning, the last pitch. And you somehow hit a grand slam, like when everything seems to be on the line. And I think subconsciously over the course of my career, I would replicate these situations both in terms of the strategy, in terms of how I raised. And it's really it's fascinating that you actually ask this, because last night one of my confidants and closest friends we were discussing about a potential talk that I that I'm structuring right now about why it is that certain athletes go into these dark places and what is the reasons why they become addicted to that process.

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And so one of the things that we we understood last night that I was talking, which I've explained to you right now, is I would strategically race these races.

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So let's take a thousand meters, for example. The thousand meters is the nine laps. Nine lap race strategy is very important. If you are jostling in position with five or six laps ago when you are in first or second place, the chances and likelihood of you winning drastically skyrocket. If you are in the back of the pack, if you're in fifth or fourth place, the chances of you winning diminishes with every single second that passes. As that five, four, three, two BHEL lap happens, I would place myself.

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Consistently at the back of the pack until the last possible moment, partially in terms of my strategy, but also because I became there was this exhilarating flow state and feeling that I would be able to replicate of this absolute highest level of performance.

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And so I'd be in the heat box beforehand looking that to see that I'm the only American in the race.

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All of the odds are stacked against me and it would somehow trigger this hyper focused response, which would allow me to get into this very deep flow state to concentrate in a way that I would almost relish in the fact that I wasn't supposed to win and then I would.

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And so a friend of mine showed me the other day who used to be my old coach, he would say he showed me. He goes, if you actually watch your pattern of competition throughout your entire career, you have kind of like this really interesting up and down motion. It's always projecting up, but there's always a fall and a rise, a fall and rise. And I'm sure that's with everybody. But it's not smooth like a normal kind of cadence would be.

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It was like the sharp rise and sharp fall, a sharp rise in a sharp fall, sharp rise and sharp fall.

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And so we saw this pattern that I would that, by the way, it's a very dangerous way to race in the sport of short track speedskating because you're just not you're not going you're not going with the grain that would greatly give you the outcome you desire. Instead, you're essentially creating obstacles to make it even harder.

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It's like the Olympics wasn't enough. You you not only need to challenge yourself against the best people in the world, you need to come down to the last two labs and see what you're made of. Yeah, and I don't mean it's not like.

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I think every athlete has their own unique experience in this realm. And for me personally, it's not like I was so dominant that I had the luxury of doing this. It's not like a Michael Phelps. Right. Or Phelps will for ten years straight, like he's just winning literally every single thing or a Michael Johnson, the track and field sprinter who, you know, he would just completely obliterate the competition. I was it was always like a chance of winning, but it wasn't guaranteed.

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And there was years and times when I was very dominant. But it wasn't like I was head over shoulders just greater than anyone else on the ice. And I think a lot of that stems from like a deep insecurity, a fact that I would oftentimes win races where the strategy was that I was actually at the front of the pack and first or second position and lead most of the race. And it did not excite me. I felt very unfulfilled and it didn't seem like that was enough.

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Now, as I grow older, I look back at my career and I'm like, man, that was the dumbest thing that you could have done. Like your actual results could have been 2x of what they ever were. Had you been a smarter, more predictable athlete, I'm not sure I would change anything. But that's that's the reality is that that was I guess that was my dark side is my self sabotage to try to see how low I could get against all these odds and still come up out of this thing winning a race.

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You want to go to Lake Placid? You didn't get on the plane when your dad dropped you off at the airport. Yeah, the first time that my father told me at the age of 14 that I was had the chance to go and be a part of this, you know, unique experience of going through a training program to potentially make an Olympic team. The United States Olympic Committee had pulled some strings and changed the rules for me as an exception.

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This was nineteen ninety six, nineteen ninety seven. And so they had said that typically you have to be 15 years old to be a part of this training program. You're only 14. You see so much promise in your son that we would love for him to attend at the age of 14. My dad being very ecstatic and happy. This is amazing. This is life changing. My son could potentially do something extraordinary in his life, which is what he's always wanted.

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And so my father explained this to me. I had other plans. I didn't want to be there. It was a summer summertime in Seattle. I was I was a kid. I mean, I was 14 years old. I just wanted to hang out. I don't want to go some foreign place and train with people who I didn't know under the tutelage and advisor ship of some coach who I never had a relationship with. There was a very alien experience in looking at it, and it didn't seem like that was the good idea for me.

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And so my father dropped me off the airport after packing my bags and essentially explains to me that if I don't like it, I can come home after one month. But this is something that I need to do. And it was at that moment that I decided to take the decision into my own hands. And I watched my father drive away after dropping me off at SeaTac Airport. I take my bags, I walk into the SeaTac airport, I walk back out, I go to the payphone, I call a friend, inform my friend that I am no longer going to go to New York for this training program.

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And instead I'm going to hang out at friend's houses from house to house, week to week until I figure this thing out, all while my father believes that I'm actually in New York training with his team. But I'm so upset that I don't call him. And then he gets the call from the the coach in Lake Placid who's really just prompting and asking him, hey, are you still planning on sending Apollo, your son here to the program? Because the offer is wide open.

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But we haven't heard from you. And my dad being very confused is like, oh, my God, you guys lost my son. I mean, you fast forward through that story.

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My father figures out whose house I was actually staying at after I think like seven days or seven, seven, nine days. He picks me up. He's very upset. Two weeks goes by, more arguments, more battles back and forth between a young son and father. And my dad makes the decision for me that he's going to go there with me and flies with me to Albany, New York, and then make the drive to Lake Placid. And upon there, you know, basically drops off the package.

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And that package was me to the training program. And then like, what was that like?

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So you get there, you're naturally gifted, you've been coach, but not coached at that level. And then your training regimen wasn't I mean, it sounds like that's where you have to sort of like genetically.

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I think so, yeah. At the age of 14, I had the raw genetic and talent ability that would take me to the top of the competitive sphere in the United States. And so when I made that first team under, by the way, some incredible mentorship and amazing coaching by someone who knew what to do with a rambunctious kid like me and help to harness the power of the raw ability that I had. And after doing that and making my first team going and competing internationally on the world's.

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Age in Japan in 1997 at the world championships. That was the moment trying to make the 98 Olympics right.

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Yes, this is this is before this is after I made my first kind of world team and I had my first real call it my first real senior level competition.

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Right. I'm now in the big leagues and I'm competing against everybody.

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Yeah, the best. You're 15. As 15 and it was I was actually I was 14, and so I was so. Taken aback by the fact that the way that we skated, even on the track on the ice, was so radically different, that was the moment that hit me that said, wow, I actually thought that I was pretty good as an athlete and I had talent. The reality is that we're not even close right now to what it's going to take in order for me to perform at the highest level in the world stage, we being the US, we being the US.

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Correct. And was that where the like so what have you is because the the strategy was different, is that what was happening with the other teams like the Canadians and the Koreans and the. Was it just a better strategy, was a better training, or was it like what was going on that made them it? It was everything. It was better strategy, better training, better technique, better equipment, better experience, a different level of seriousness associated with the competition.

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Not to say that our men's and women's teams was not serious. It just seemed different at the way that the South Korean team carried themselves into the ice rink as a professional unit, never showing signs of emotion, not laughing and joking around.

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It was it was different. I mean, I was 14 years old, right? So everything to me was fun and a joke back then. Everything was just natural.

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And I saw this level of intensity and seriousness through the eyes of not only the athletes, but the coaches who demanded so much from these athletes. And it was it was almost it was both inspiring and is also very intimidating at the same time.

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Was it scary at all to like, this is my future if I keep going down this path that you're 14?

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I don't even know if I was thinking about my future. It was more just I was just experiencing in its most present raw form of noticing that when you skate around this oval rink and if you imagine the shape of a peanut right where it's got these indentations and it kind of goes back out.

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So it's almost like a figure eight that doesn't touch in the middle. That's a typical track in terms of short track speed skating. The way that we would train and skate in the US is much more just like a just a typical oval.

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So we're we never we never go in on the straightaways, in the back, out for the corners. We kind of just our straightaways are quite straight.

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And so I remember my very first fifteen hundred meter race with some of these world champions and looking to my left and seeing the entire pack is skating literally inside of me and I'm skating on outside near the boards and just thinking like this feels like I'm skating a different race.

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It's this is the weirdest experience and you have to go further that way to you. Right? You have to go further that way and milliseconds matter.

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That's interesting. And so is the ninety seven world championships where. What did you finish there.

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Oh I didn't make my finish at the nineteen ninety seven world championships which were actually held in Nagano. I think I had gotten fifteenth or maybe it was nineteenth in the fifteen hundred meters overall. But you're fourteen like you're 19th in the world. Yeah. And so what happens after that, between that and not making the ninety eight Olympic team.

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So I come home after the experience at that world championships kind of deer in the headlights and now we are the U.S. team is headed into the Olympic season and the Olympic season meaning nineteen ninety. So it's really nineteen eighty seven summer. Going into the remainder of the year, so we have about three months from the last race that we had in the world championships in Japan until when we were supposed to report back to training camp for the off season training, so to speak.

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And this offseason training was used by all of the senior level athletes as a time to really build the physical and mental base that will carry them through the rest of the year. I had no idea. To me the off season was literally the off season.

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Yeah, like video games and cheetahs video games.

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Cheetahs talk about McDonald's, Pizza Hut, like going through puberty, growing up hang out, friends staying up late. No biking, no training, no skating, nothing.

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And were you just oblivious to the fact that they were doing that or were you like, that's not for me, I need to be a teenager? Like, did you know that was happening and you weren't doing it or were you?

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It was I mean, it was both I both understood that I didn't want to do those things. And I also had no idea.

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What it was going to take on a year that is the most important for all of the athletes internationally and domestically, and so when I arrived back into the training program, the major differentiating factor was that I now walked in with with literally this like spare tire around my waist. I'd been going through puberty. I've been eating really bad. I had not trained I had not done a single workout from the moment that I left the world championships until I arrived.

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And I just assumed that this was like the normal routine of what had happened. Now, the training program moved from Lake Placid, New York, which was the junior development program. And we had I was now a part of the national team training program. I'm now 15 years old. I'm now training with the grown men that I've beaten before. I've never trained with them and always trained kind of kids around my same age. And now I'm in an environment where.

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This is the dedication and sacrifice that these individuals have made to pursue their dream of making the Olympic team. I did not understand what that concept was. I was still a kid living in this world where seemingly we thought that everything was just fun and games. And it was very quick for me to recognize that these men and females in this group had fun, but they were about business. And this was also about making a team. And there's only four men and four women who make the Olympic team five with an alternate, but who make the Olympic team come December and every day counted.

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And I was beyond intimidated. I then started to lose my fun, kind of happy go lucky attitude towards the sport. I had not yet applied or understood the power of the mind and its focal properties in association with streamlining something to generate massive output. I just assumed that this was the way it was. And not only that, I did not enjoy the process. I had new coaches and a new new environment. But I. I mentally was not engaged.

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The light switch never went on. Even though I was there, I was still in the off season mode. I was just going through the motions. And so I arrived at the 1998 Olympic trials, no longer overweight, but mentally going into the competition, thinking that I wasn't going to make the team.

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And so within one year I went from first place, which was being at the top of the mountain to finishing dead last at those Olympic trials and that kind of spiral downward into a way that it was perhaps the most important and impactful next two weeks of my life as my father decided to take some real hard love and hard action into his hands in terms of forcing me to come to a real determination about which path I should take in my life and how I should attack that path.

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He did that in a really unique way. Are you comfortable sharing that? Yeah.

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So my father. Saw this, saw his son. With all of the potential, by the way, and raw ability to make an Olympic team at the age of 15, and to give you more context, my father's Japanese. The games are held in Nagano, Japan. My grandparents live an hour from Tokyo. And we're actually living, I think, near Nagano at the time they had bought their tickets are ready to go to the Olympic Games. They had already assumed that I was supposed to be a part of this Olympic team.

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So I was not I did not make the team. And it was not because I didn't have the ability or the potential. It's because I threw it away and that deeply, deeply, emotionally scarred my father, because that's not the psychology that he understands. He was never even given the potential or the chance to do something like that, let alone to see it being thrown away by his own blood. And he also saw this pattern of self sabotage that potentially would be a demon that I would face many times throughout my life if he could not help me understood where that source was coming from and how to change that.

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And so my father takes me from the competition, explains to me that he's deeply upset, not because I didn't make the team, but in the way that I had trained and left so much on the table that year.

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You didn't apply yourself to put the most simple way? I didn't apply myself. And he just you know, I'm sure every father, every mother looks at their their kids in the same way because they believe they can do anything. And it was it was powerful. So my dad took me to this area about three and a half hours south west of downtown Seattle. And it's right on the Pacific Ocean. This area he would take me to when when I was very young, I would spend our holidays there.

[00:33:38]

And we used to rent this at the time. It was a very cheap kind of old rustic cabin. And this area was called Capoulas Beach. And he drops me off at this place, rented this cabin at the Iron Springs Resort, which has been redone. It is really beautiful now, but this Island Springs resort and looks me in the eyes and tells me I'm not going to stay here with you. You were going to stay here alone and you are going to figure out the next step and path in your life.

[00:34:10]

I am not going to help you in that decision. You have to make the decision on your own. I don't care which path that you choose, whether it's to try this Olympic path or my time or to study be the best academic that you can. Whatever it is, I want you to truly train your mind and your body in a way that gives you the satisfaction that you left nothing on the table. And when your father tells you this at the age of 50 and he's dropping you off and you have food and you've got close, but there's no cell phone, by the way, there's no video games, there's no Instagram, there's nothing more than ask.

[00:34:47]

This is very like rough nature. This is December in the middle of winter. It rains hard every single day. It's I find it really incredibly peaceful and calming and beautiful. Now, at the time, I really didn't. And so my dad drives away, goes back to downtown Seattle where his work was. And I am left here in this cabin kind of mindlessly still going through the training cycle and pattern that I was before, but not really understanding why or what I was doing.

[00:35:19]

And then and then I think the natural byproduct of this is to both have a, you know, a significant anger towards my father, which was there a confusion against my father and why I was there. And then eventually there was a conversation that I started to have introspectively. So this cerebral internal question answer began, I think probably on day three or four. And it was kind of about the same question, like, why are you here, why and what do you want to do?

[00:35:56]

Is that even important to you? And I did not have an answer, there was no kind of clearing of the skies, there was no lightning bolt and like all of a sudden sunshine, oh, you should go become an Olympic athlete, know that it was really at its most principled. You have a decision. Do you think that you could do something spectacular in the sport, that you try that, do you like it? Are you making this decision because of your dad?

[00:36:23]

Are you making this decision because of yourself?

[00:36:26]

And I essentially told myself that I wanted to give it one more shot. I wanted to give this Olympic pursuit another try, but really give myself to that that that caused. And I called my father seven days after being there and explain to him that I've made my decision. He drives and comes and gets me. And on the way home, I tell him that I want to try the world of short track speedskating one more time and give it its proper dues.

[00:36:52]

And so I went back to Lake Placid to train with all the athletes who didn't make the Olympic team who are hoping to make the world team that year. And I ended up getting last year, I ended up getting picked last on the double alternate as a part of that team. So that means that I wasn't going to skate any individual races.

[00:37:14]

I wasn't going to skate the relay like the bag boy sort of somebody gets injured, you can get in, but. And basically there to help videotape practice and and and provide support if someone gets sick or injured. And I remember sitting in the stands watching the competition, not only hating the way that that felt, but also making promises to myself, which seemed to be really interesting. So I actually wrote down on these little notepads, promises to myself of what I would do when I got home, and I would try to keep those promises upon my arrival back to Seattle.

[00:37:48]

So when after that experience and the world championships and world championships finished, I went back to Seattle instead of getting back into the same pattern that I had before, of hanging around the same crowd and groups of individuals that I had at the time. I instead took a pretty drastic turn and said, OK, I'm going to stick to my promise. And I had this piece of paper. I had no structure. I don't know anything about sports science.

[00:38:08]

I didn't know much about sports psychology yet. It was really just still about raw effort and dedication and consistency. And I didn't call a single friend that I had made up to that point. And I went very, very kind of I went very quiet and I spent all of my time both studying training in the morning and then training in the evening. And I just wrote my own training program, which was like biking while watching skating tapes, going inline skating or running on the high school track by myself.

[00:38:41]

And throughout the course of the next four and a half months, I was able to make leaps and bounds in terms of my performance, but also in terms of the consistency of my levels of focus and my ability to kind of narrow the focal points that I was really concentrating on, which proved to be very, very beneficial for me when I went back to the program and showed up almost like a new person.

[00:39:07]

One of the things he said there that was really interesting is that you didn't hang out with the same people. How important do you think that was to. Reorienting yourself, like, how hard is it to get out of your environment with people? I mean, I look, I don't think there's enough that is talked about it. I think your environment is not a guarantee of who you are and your outcome, but I think is a great indicator that.

[00:39:34]

Yeah, and we hear this. Right. You are the sum you are the average of the five people that you hang out with the most. And so none of my friends, by the way, were athletes. None of them had any aspirations of becoming Olympians. And at the time, unfortunately, none of them were actually doing anything that was that productive. And so I believe that because I cut them off, it allowed me to become super obsessive about the sport in a way that allowed me to become a true student of it.

[00:39:59]

And that's where my growth began. Had I not done that, we wouldn't be having this conversation today because I don't believe I would even make that team like you were able to turn that anger into promises for yourself. But it was it was it seething like watching that competition from the stands going like I should be out there? Like, is that the moment things started to really click for you?

[00:40:23]

Absolutely. I think I experience all of the emotions. I experience the the pain of hearing the other parents basically kind of talk about you in a way that you're just a fallen statistic. He could have, should have, but he just wasn't. He cracked under pressure. He doesn't have what it takes. He could have been the best, but he's just not. And then also, there's also the kind of inner competitiveness that says, like, well, you've beaten all these people before that are now above you in terms of rank in the sport.

[00:40:52]

But now you're not there simply because of your own lack of consistency, like step up, like it's time for you to really, really kind of take ownership over a lot of these these things.

[00:41:02]

And while sitting in the stands while doing that kind of solitary training. And I mean, I became a real when I say I became a real student, I started studying all different types of biochemistry books. I started to understand nutrition. I want to know much more about the mind. Started studying Eastern philosophy. Like, I just. You went all in.

[00:41:21]

I went all in to where I cared about nothing. I really, truly cared about nothing except for what I was doing at that moment, which is very powerful. It's also not very balanced. But that's that's the approach that I took.

[00:41:35]

Do you think you can achieve extreme success like you have had with a balanced life? Like is that even possible?

[00:41:42]

I think that's a great question. From my personal view, I don't think it's possible. I can't think of any examples. Nobody comes to mind. He's achieved extreme success and you would be living a balanced life, I think, for an overall happiness perspective.

[00:42:03]

Having a balanced life, I believe, can yield wonderful benefits, I think, in terms of sheer performance when it comes to sport or other tasks.

[00:42:13]

Everyone has the same common trait, which is obsession, it can be in the form of narcissism, insecurity, fear of failure, trauma at a deep, deep level, that you have a chip on your shoulder that makes you go on to be that hedge fund investor who 40 years in still gets up. At the same time, every day has seemingly everything in the world, but still attacks it as if he is the underdog. Those are things that are deeply ingrained at the psychological level, which I believe are the most powerful tools of all.

[00:42:45]

And mine was in that same realm where. I would have rather cut my own hand off than it would be to lose, like I was willing to go when I lost races, it was so deeply scarring and psychologically damaging to me that I took it so personally that the next time we trained, I did it was so was so much intensity that I was willing to go beyond the point of coming back and. I don't know if everyone I don't know if everyone is willing to do that.

[00:43:14]

I don't think so. I didn't see it in my teammates and they would probably tell you that I was. Not the best person to be around during training because of that those time periods, but I wasn't really there to either coddle or to help others. There was times when I had empathy, but for the most part, when I showed up, the level of intensity in training was at a different level. And I just believe that because I didn't think I was genetically superior to my other competitors, that's what I needed to do on a daily basis.

[00:43:42]

And I was so much in mental anguish on a daily basis, battling, you know, equipment like this that didn't seem to go my way for many, many years. And I felt like no matter what, I was only at 80 percent of my potential. I had to make that up somewhere else. And so that came off as a very, very, very competitive, driven, almost unlivable situation with some of my teammates.

[00:44:05]

And you not only trained harder than everybody else, but that's when you sort of clued in to the value of mindset and training your mind to. And is that when you started working with a sports psychologist? Yeah.

[00:44:18]

So when I was 15 at the Olympic Training Center after the Olympics that occurred and after I had showed up and kind of better shape, we had hired an assistant coach and a sports psychologist in the same role. And it was this young guy by the name of David Cresswell, who's a dear friend now, and he was studying at Colorado College. And he said that sports psychology and mindset and meditation, mindfulness and visualization and all these techniques and strategies, the this was the key to truly unlocking my own potential.

[00:44:54]

At the time. This guy didn't seem like he was an athlete. You know, speedskating is a very obscure sport, so he didn't know anything about it. So we really just literally shoved this guy to the side and just said, you don't know what you're talking about. Eventually, he broke me down and I'll give you some backstory on where this actually happened. So before we would lift weights in the afternoons, I would either go upstairs above the weight room.

[00:45:18]

There was a basketball court, which was also a volleyball court, which was also on the far end, a badminton court. And on this badminton court, Dave and I would play badminton against each other. And Dave was a tennis player in college, so he's very good at racquet sports.

[00:45:32]

So he was pretty much manhandling me throughout this process.

[00:45:37]

And I hated losing to this guy because I felt like he should not be able to beat me because of just my sheer athletic, my athletic nature of what I was doing in the sport. And he would start to prompt me with questions, why do you think, hey, just question, why do you think you lost that last point? What happened in the last four points where you served into the net every time, which would make me so irate and just I was had so much anger.

[00:46:05]

I was like, who? How dare this guy question? You know me.

[00:46:11]

And then he starts to explain the reason why I'm prompting these questions, Apollo, is because there's something deeper at work here. You're showing patterns of a downward spiral that once you lose the first point, it's very difficult for you to reset and recalibrate in a way that you can treat this new point as a as a new point. You're still talking about the point that you just messed up on. You're still feeling emotionally the trauma that just occurred on a micro level of what you just made in terms of that mistake.

[00:46:37]

And you're saying why did just make that mistake? And that was the moment that I said, I'm going to listen to this and see what he has to offer, and that began my process, that began my process into the world of meditation, visualization and self talk and the world of sports psychology. And it was from that moment that not only my career changed, but I would say that my my life had really changed. It was because of that single incident of me coming in contact with someone who was deeply ingrained in the clinical psych component, but had a eastern philosophical view of how to introduce those elements into someone who was half Japanese, who kind of had that philosophical element from his father's teaching.

[00:47:24]

Everything seemed to be somehow cohesively working together.

[00:47:28]

Kotomi a little bit of self talk, like I think that a lot of confidence comes from not necessarily what we've done, but how we talk to ourselves. I think that's an accurate statement. I think that the way that we as human beings have been hardwired in terms of our neurolinguistic programming, I'm not a huge believer in NLP, but I understand the concept that there are certain words depending on how they are emotionally tied to us at a young age or what they mean or perceive or allow us to perceive or react to those can trigger certain elements and emotions in our body.

[00:48:03]

And so if you're able to use certain words or language or expressions or statements to yourself that elicit a response that would be positive or that would increase some biochemical response, the mind is very powerful. That's the most powerful tool of all. And I felt that at a young age, very non directional and not focused enough in order to make real impact, but enough to where at some point for several months, several months might trigger word was focus, concentrate.

[00:48:34]

And I remember after about 60 days of trying that I remember telling Dave, hey, I don't know if this even does anything anymore, like I keep saying, focus and concentrate, but I don't even know if that's actually having an impact. And so that began the conversation towards what do you need to hear from yourself in a pattern, a pattern that will help you start to believe it and help you start to get into that time when you've been able to have a great corner or a great pass or a great lap technically that you want to duplicate time and time again.

[00:49:07]

What is it that makes you do that? And what can you say to yourself to propel you towards what that is? And I do I still have self talk today when I work out or when I'm doing something or I'm faced with immense challenge. I'm still having this self talk, whether it's verbally outside actually speaking it like I am today. I have something right here that I'm looking at and says, don't think you are. No, you are.

[00:49:34]

It's right here on my computer screen. Yeah, I like that.

[00:49:37]

And really not just think that you are, but. No, no, the potential that you have within, you know that. And that's a good reminder for me. And so I agree with you. It's it's absolutely important.

[00:49:50]

How did you learn to recognize I think in poker they call it till. Right. When you you lose control of your emotions. And that's what's happening when you lose this point. Right in badminton is the story that we're talking about. But you lose this point. You need to recognize that you've lost control of your thinking, control of your emotions. And then that's step one. And then you need to refocus and recalibrate. Like, how do you even gain a level of self awareness that men have lost control?

[00:50:23]

If I don't figure this out in the next lap, like I'm going to lose this race and so I need to do it in real time, almost, you need to recognize and then recalibrate.

[00:50:32]

So the beautiful thing about short track speed skating, Shane, is. The sport gives you instantaneous feedback, and so it's very easy for an athlete to punch him or herself out, so to speak, so there's a fine line between trying way too hard and not trying enough. And it requires a level of relaxation that almost feels easy at its highest speeds and then trying so hard and fighting and fight against the other athletes and fighting against yourself and the ice where your actual top speed actually decreases.

[00:51:08]

So if you look at a lot of track and field athletes and their other start line, Usain Bolt is my favorite example.

[00:51:15]

Here you have one of the world's greatest track and field athletes of all time preparing for a moment in front of eighty thousand screaming fans on the Olympic stage, a billion people watching. And this guy is joking around towards camera. The psychology behind that is his body is now primed in the most relaxed but responsive state to be hyper reactive and everyone responds differently. Some athletes need to be like a friend of mine who is an Olympic gold medalist in bobsled.

[00:51:47]

He had to be angry before his race. That's what he used as his lover. He was angry and he used rage in order to do that for me. I recognize that when I perform my belt, my best I was the most relaxed, I was the most calm.

[00:52:01]

My heart rate was at its lowest level and I was able to remove the emotion from the process that add at hand. And so, like the trader who's in charge of one hundred million dollar trades and he starts to lose control and it's one after next for next. The same happened to me in speed skating. If I would lose, I would lose again or I'd make a bad pass or fight another person or fight myself. And it was this downward spiral.

[00:52:26]

And at some point you got to cut the head off the snake, take a step back, jump onto the balcony metaphorically, and be able to have a very quick and transparent view of where am I, what battles and my fighting right now, are they important and what is the ultimate goal if the ultimate goal is there? I need to take a step back, recalibrate the focus and get back into the game. And short track has that ability to give you that chance because we've got so many races over the course of a day.

[00:52:53]

So you have preliminary quarterfinal, preliminary heat, quarterfinal, semifinal and then final and you're making mistakes along the way. And regardless of what happened yesterday or the race before, you have to recalibrate in a way that this is the new race. This is the new chance is the new opportunity right here. Now, what happened before doesn't matter unless it's insight, learning lesson or information about how you're going to race moving forward. If it's not in that realm, it's disregarded.

[00:53:20]

It's completely out.

[00:53:22]

A beautiful man at the most elite levels. How much do you think it's preparation? Like how much preparation is mental versus physical that results in an outcome? Like, I would imagine everybody is basically physically pretty similar, genetically pretty similar to those levels. Does it all come down to mental well? Yes or no, I think that you are right, everyone at that level is is a supreme athlete. I think in certain sports you have to have a natural genetic disposition at the fundamental layer to be good.

[00:53:59]

Right. Look, I'm not going to play basketball. Right. And I'm I'm probably not going to play football, not I'm not going to play football. I'm also not going to be a boxer. I'm also not going to be a track and field sprinter. Like, there's just certain things that my body does better than others by the sheer shape and biomechanics of how I was constructed.

[00:54:18]

So at the absolute performance level, the last one percent, I think that's the make or break. There has been countless stories of world champions who've won 10 world championships in a row but have never won a gold medal. What's happening? Why this this race is technically no different than anything else you've ever skated. It is no different. There's just more people in the stands. There's now a camera in my face. There's now billions people watching. But at its core concept, this is the same diameter I'm sitting.

[00:54:46]

It's the same athletes. Everything seems to be the same. Why do some athletes always compete in those clutch positions? Why does a Kobe or a Michael Jordan want the ball at the end? And I think that that's the belief and confidence and alpha that comes with. If there's anyone going to be responsible for the outcome of this, I believe I can dictate that outcome. And I also had that similar mindset. I didn't. By the way, when I raise I never knew that I was going to win the race.

[00:55:19]

I believe that I had a chance, as small chance as that was at times. I still believe that I had a chance. And that's all that I needed to feel like I had as good a chance as anyone else. And then I just simply wanted it more or that I prepared more. I derived confidence from my training immensely and my preparation. That's what gave me a lot of confidence and satisfaction, because in one of the short track speed skating, just because you're the best or the most well prepared doesn't mean you're going to win.

[00:55:45]

So I couldn't guarantee that outcome. By the time a four year period went by and I arrived at the start line, I needed to find another mechanism to focus more on the process versus the prize to give me that happiness and fulfillment, or else I would have probably walked away from the sport. Very bitter because there's many races where I was like, man, I should have won that race. I could have won that race that I got pushed or fallen down or got disqualified.

[00:56:08]

How did you approach your mental training?

[00:56:11]

The mental training was the core fundamental layer that I that I used, I think as the jumping off point for everything else. I just I just believe that I had an unlimited potential within myself. I believe that I could rewire the neurochemistry. Whether that has any scientific evidence based or not, I believe that I had that ability. I believe that I could withstand more physiological pain than anybody else in the sport. I believe that I wanted to win more than anyone else.

[00:56:40]

And I believe that that gave me the disserving right to capture the gold more than anyone else. And so when you add up all those small incremental attributes over time, over many hours and many days of consistency, they seem to yield a pretty powerful return.

[00:56:57]

You mentioned pain. What can we learn from pain?

[00:57:01]

I think pain is is something that I have derived and at times sought willingly. Throughout my life and career, the physical pain was something that I became very accustomed to, so to me, it wasn't a work out until I could really feel the lactic acid in my in my gums, in my teeth. And I derived a lot of pleasure watching the person next to me on the Mountain Dew skating jump start to crack under the hot summer heat. While I'm wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants and a beanie.

[00:57:40]

Somehow I that drove me to want to dig deeper, to show that I had there is this inner monster inside of us that still had more to give. I thought that when I did the Ironman in 2014 where I was seeking, I was hungry. Like, where is the limit? Where when do I crack at this nine hour, nine hour plus 10 hour plus race? Where do I where is the cracking for me? And I saw it that time and time again.

[00:58:07]

So pain was an opportunity for me to recognize what I. Previously thought was possible going into this training session and then having either help through a coach or a teammate or a mentor, help me actually recognize that's just that's just one layer. There's many layers of pain. And I'm in no way, shape or form saying I am the expert or I could handle the most. But I know for sure that I made myself crack meaning like I had nothing else to give.

[00:58:38]

I would I would fall on the treadmill. I would break down, fall over. I just I physically would collapse. And there's something very gratifying about knowing where that limit is and then slowly inching and pushing that limit a little bit further away. Every time you go and touch that line. I think Will Smith had this thing, this quote, I remember a while back about being on a treadmill with somebody else. It's like I might not run as far as you're as fast as you, but I'm not going to quit until I'm dead.

[00:59:06]

I think there's, you know, I mean and and I think that when you own something like that, that's that's pretty powerful. Right? It's I think certain people have that.

[00:59:15]

I mean, I think our something that I've always looked to our kind of servicemen and women here in the States is this psychological barrier that separates those who are genetically gifted. By the way, there's been many Olympic athletes who have actually gone on to try to become Navy SEALs, for example. And they can. And it's not because they don't have the genetic ability.

[00:59:36]

It's just because they weren't willing to go to those. Maybe perhaps it's those dark places that are quiet. Yeah. That are required to.

[00:59:45]

I think showing up in shape is the prerequisite, like, you know, when you get to the start line and you look to your left and right, everyone is a phenomenal athlete, right? It's the same, I think, on when you talk about the military or the SEALS teams or in any business sector. Right. When you're performing at the elite level, the fundamental prerequisite is like, OK, yeah, that's great. Those are table stakes now.

[01:00:08]

Table stakes, right?

[01:00:08]

This is standard. What are you going to do now? When I place all this pressure on you, how would you respond? How will you react when you rise to the challenge? Will you take this clutch moment, ask for the ball? Do you want to be the sole athlete in that race against two or three other athletes on the same team?

[01:00:25]

When you were competing, were you trying to win sort of be your personal best or dominate the competition, which is different than winning? I think.

[01:00:35]

I mean, it was I think it was both, I think. The last three years of my life and in my career in the world of the Olympic space was really about my best when I was younger, it was really about crushing the competition, crushing their hopes, crushing their dreams or desires.

[01:00:53]

I mean, it's a very almost a very negative. Not saying I'm not boasting it or saying I'm proud of it, but even in my own team, I would. The level of standard that I had for myself was that I would train more than they would. I would be more tired. The next morning when we woke up and when we got to the ice rink, I expected that I could still dominate them in my weakened state and that would make me happy.

[01:01:18]

And if I couldn't, I would be very upset at myself. And then later on in my career, I recognize that the fight was really not against anyone else. The fight was always and had been against myself and I fought. And if I sought true change and progress and fulfillment in the sport, I'd have to really have the radical transparent look at myself and say, Are you willing to take the armor off and examine yourself in a way that you can?

[01:01:46]

If I was going to compete against me, how would I do that? Which gave me a lot of strength. So that vulnerability later on in my career gave me a tremendous amount of strength. Talk to me a little bit about realizing that all battles are internal ones. Yeah, that's that's a that's a great question.

[01:02:05]

So I think the process that I had gone through in the Olympic realm, I think society places this significant emphasis and expectation through a series of conditioning events that are just purely extrinsic. And the Olympic Games is is no is perhaps a prime example of that. We don't celebrate you unless you bring home gold. My very first race stepping to the start line. I'm 19 years old. You know, the announcer in the arena says, shush.

[01:02:35]

And then all of the the audience goes quiet. You can hear a pin drop in that time. And I remember go to the start. I remember going to the start line and then one guy in the stands holding a beer yells, Bring home the gold Apollo.

[01:02:51]

And just remembering, like, if I don't bring home the gold, like, does that mean that I've failed my country? Does that mean that I've failed myself and my family, my friends? Maybe, but in the whole grand scheme of things, I don't think necessarily and so very early, both my father and another family friend of mine essentially said the following. They said, Apollo, your life is going to be a series of chapters, one that you're living, which will fuel and perhaps present itself to be the most important at the time, the ones to come in the future, that you don't know what is actually going to happen.

[01:03:33]

But if you're able to focus much more on this journey.

[01:03:37]

Much more on this process, your likelihood of having the happiness of achieving that success, of achieving that fulfillment skyrockets. And it took me many years to really feel what that was about, but. The intrinsic motivations and the extrinsic motivation, there's been an ongoing battle, I think all will always be just because of the societies that we live in. I also believe that, you know, to focus it really lends, you know, lends credence to credence to the sport itself of short track speed skating.

[01:04:12]

Short track speed skating is a sport where it's really volatile. I mean, anything can happen at any moment. And if you're a fraction of a second, too early or too late on a pass on a decision, it radically alters the outcome. And so you can't rely upon the extrinsic validation that because you won this race, you should be happy. And in fact, there was many times explained earlier in our conversation that I would win races, that I actually wasn't happy because it didn't go the way that I wanted.

[01:04:39]

And so I became deeply engrossed in this battle against myself, my own internal insecurities and weaknesses and mindset. And I wanted to just harden and callous that to a degree that I can't control whether I win in Vancouver, my final Olympic Games. But what I can do is I can control this process and experience to by the time that I arrive, I'm able to exhaust any and all options at the present time to say that I could have done more.

[01:05:09]

And that was my personal win. And I just deeply believed that if I did go through that process and I was able to say that I had zero regrets about this path, that is my personal victory. That is the gold that I can transfer into other life skills when I decide to retire. And it was very difficult because we've been conditioned, I believe, to think about a results oriented society and a focus where unless you bring home the gold or the results as a metric, it's not considered a real actual factual win.

[01:05:45]

And I'm just I just think that that's not entirely accurate in any shape, way or form. Yeah, I totally agree with you there. I think what you put into it is sort of like how you live your life after it. Right? So if you if you half ass it for the months leading up to a major competition and you win, you won't remember that. Like you won't remember that you half assed it. But if you lose, you'll have all these regrets for the rest of your life.

[01:06:12]

You'll be like, man, had I not done that or had I trained harder? And that just stays with you for so long. But if you put your all in and you lose, then you feel like you genuinely sort of lost. You control the controllable. You sort of did everything that was within your power to do it. And then it doesn't haunt you.

[01:06:31]

It sucks, but it doesn't haunt you. I think the word that is the most powerful there is the haunting. Do you want to have. And a lot of this is perception, but if you have the ability to eliminate the nightmare that can go on for decades and I know this because I have friends who have that right, they've left the sport in anguish mentally. And 10 years later, I ask them how they're doing and they say that they have not changed at all.

[01:06:59]

Do you want that to be in your mind or do you want to be able to say that you gave your all and its most simplistic form? Did you give your every ounce of your being to something? And whether you won or lost is perhaps outside of your control? There's an amazing quote by a philosopher, author, a writer called Niko's. His name is Nikos Kazantzakis. And the book is called I think the book is called Report to Grecco.

[01:07:26]

And I'm going to butcher this, but in a sense, I had this on all of my kind of Post-it notes at my house. It is do not ask whether you will win or lose something like that is God's account. What you should focus on is your struggle to carry a further carry it further. That is what concerns you, whether you win or lose or is not of your concern. It's your ability to carry the struggle further is what you should be concerned with.

[01:07:54]

I thought that was really interesting in the realm of what I was doing as an athlete. And so it also not only helped take pressure off of what I was about to do. But it just provided a deeper layer and texture associated with the path that I was pursuing. I love that. What was it like to win? You won a gold in 2002. What was that like when they played the anthem and you stood on the podium? I know there's a little bit of controversy around that one, but I like talking about the 100 meters.

[01:08:25]

It's like. Yeah. Well, I think lots of there wasn't controversy started the wrong word, like Korea ended up hating you afterwards. That's what I mean by country. Yeah, there was controversy, right. And they were upset. They they think that they thought that their athletes should not have been disqualified and that I should have not been. I finished the race second actually in that 15 meters and the guy in front of me. He was disqualified and I was awarded the gold, and so the first thing was standing the podium was very surreal.

[01:08:54]

It was incredible. So the reason why I was incredible was a few reasons. One, this was post two thousand one, September 11th. OK, so this is at a time where we're not this this is February now, 2002 in Salt Lake City.

[01:09:14]

It was a very powerful moment, I think, in in the United States history in which people were very hungry and looking for solidarity.

[01:09:23]

And they are and were doing everything that they could to just find a team to root for finding a team to get behind. And that team was not your local team. It wasn't your favorite team. It was one team. That team was Team USA. And so it was a very powerful moment, I think, for me, standing on the podium, hearing the thousands and thousands of Americans kind of singing the national anthem and and there was a sense of like happiness and pride.

[01:09:58]

And it felt like for me, Shane, that at that moment in time I had. It felt like I had done something that was bigger than the sport and I felt like people were happier for me, not because they cared about short track, but they were happy about this, about the way that United States was able to win again. And we deeply craved some sort of a win and a collective unification and solidarity around one thing on one moment in time when there was many other countries there.

[01:10:30]

And it was that's what that first gold medal felt to me. It felt like like that so much bigger than just accomplishing your dreams and sort of like winning a gold medal. It was it felt connected to every sort of American.

[01:10:46]

How is the source of what drives you sort of changed as you transitioned from athletics into business?

[01:10:53]

Well, I think the source of what drives me has changed dramatically. So when I first retired from the world of short track speed skating, I always joke and say it was the it was my first great divorce. Right. So the one sole identity that I had had become accustomed to and had learned everything from was the world of the Olympic space. And when I decided to retire, that first true love tells me that it no longer wants me and it's nothing I could do to come back to it.

[01:11:18]

And it was a it is extremely challenging transition for athletes to make.

[01:11:26]

Especially for Olympic athletes, there is no salary associated with what we're doing, and I had, by the way, I had tremendous opportunities and I'm very blessed for those opportunities that I had received. But still, it's only a fraction of what was available to most professional athletes. And it was it was an understanding that I had to find something to replace my passion right away in the same intensity that I had with skating. What I didn't recognize it. It was probably not going to happen.

[01:11:57]

And if I couldn't find that replacement, it's OK. And that's natural. But rather, I should be concentrating on the attributes that I had within these life skills that I learned in the sport. And I could use those and lean on those as levers towards whatever path that I was doing next. And so in the world of business and entrepreneurship and speaking particularly in the last three years, I've really kind of recalibrated my own focus and done it in a way to where I can concentrate on something that will give me the greatest possible outcome, not on terms of success, but in terms of fulfillment and happiness.

[01:12:37]

And so I recognize that after I retired, I love helping people in some capacity. I am not an expert. I have unique experiences through my life and living process. But hopefully I can help uplift and educate and provide insight and context to their own inner potential that people have, that it's been dormant for a long time. And whether they knew it or not, that that dormant power that is within people is within their control to unlock. And it's not going to be easy and it's not going to be fast.

[01:13:13]

And there is no guru or strategy tactic or tips that's going to be the one golden ticket. Rather, it's accumulation of your own experiences, your own human condition that you've been accustomed to finding what works for you and applying that in a way relentlessly that is going to greatly advance you towards what you are seeking. And I think even more so now. Today, I find myself asking what's really important, what do I really need? How can I wipe away the stuff that's not important?

[01:13:48]

And how can I help others learn from both the psychological mistakes that I made from the winds that I've had, from the lessons that I've been able to create. And that's I just I become very happy when I hear and talk to people who say, hey, you know, I was headed in this direction of my life. And after hearing some of the things that you were kind of willing to bring to light, I recognized that I needed to take back control over the steering wheel for once and own up to some of these things in a way that life goes on and it's always constantly moving and changing.

[01:14:25]

And I can either sit back and watch it go by or watch it happen to me, or I can change the perception of how the world is.

[01:14:34]

In my own personal experience, there are no shortcuts. Right. And the you know, there's two to overly generalize, too, types of people, the people who think the world happens to them and the people who think that they can affect what happens in the world. And I think radically different outcomes result from both. And we're we're both at different points in time. But the more you can be that you control your outcomes, that you have some sort of say, and then the more you focus on what you do control, I think the better you end up going to end with, like a big philosophical question.

[01:15:06]

But like, what is living a philosophical or what is living a fulfilled life mean to you?

[01:15:14]

Living a fulfilled life to me means that the work that I am ingrained with and doing. Not only pulls me out of bed every morning, but it leaves an impact on other humans who have perhaps suffered in the same way that I have inside of their own two ears and helps them change the trajectory of what that is.

[01:15:40]

That in terms of work, that is very fulfilling to me in terms of the overall context, I want to be a contributor to my family, my friends, athletes and society as a whole, that hopefully I can imprint some of the just the things that I've learned in my life that people can say, wow, that that is useful and I can use that and to hopefully have some small incremental increase in people's happiness and fulfillment in a way that they perhaps didn't before.

[01:16:14]

So there are billions of people around the world who are mentors, who are consultants, who are strategists, who are authors, who are amazing human beings. And my experiences, my own personal, unique one. And hopefully that can imprint something on someone in a way that will change them by a quarter of a degree, which means sidestepping a bad mistake, making the right decision, walking through a door they wouldn't have before, and living a life that is full of meaning and importance in their own personal context of what that is.

[01:16:53]

So that's what I want. I want healthy family and friends. I would love to have a healthy, long life filled with these types of conversations in which hopefully we can touch and reach as many humans as possible into a new era that we don't know what is coming next. That's beautiful, man. Thank you so much for taking the time. Yeah, thanks for having me. Hey, one more thing before we say goodbye, the knowledge project is produced by the team at Farnam Street.

[01:17:25]

I want to make this the best podcast you listen to, and I'd love to get your feedback. If you have comments, ideas for future shows or topics or just feedback in general, you can email me at Shein F-stop blog or follow me on Twitter.

[01:17:38]

Ashin, a pair of you can learn more about the show and find past episodes at FS DOT Blogs podcast. If you want a transcript of this episode, go to F-stop blogged Tribe and join our learning community.

[01:17:52]

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