Nick Dawe is a beast. These are some of the labels that he carries with remarkable humility:
-A full-time sprint kayaker, trialling for a spot on the Australia Olympic team.
-A sport scientist, with published papers on bio-mechanics and a background in neuroscience, a master degree and plans to take on a PhD.
-A chiropractor booked solid at 2 practices.
-A coach to kids and senior athletes.
-A co-founder of Red Hippo, a cutting edge, natural supplement company.
-An all-round legend.
In this 45 minute interview Jiro and Nick get deep into the real roots of peak performance: self-awareness, failure, goals, ego, philosophy and science of continual growth. This is a GOLD-mine of actionable and powerful wisdom, shared by a man on top of his game. Because this episode is so packed full of powerful nuggets, I have taken the time to extrapolate some of the gems below. But make sure you listen in, as context is everything.
What is the difference between External and internal motivators?
Have you ever hit a goal you have been questing after, and then upon achieving it, you feel empty. Everything feels meaningless? If the answer is yes to any of these, listen in to this podcast, and action what you hear.
Nick said, “sport gave me a fantastic experience at the age of 19. When I crossed the finish line in 1st place I felt nothing. It was confronting. I figured I would feel euphoric but I felt nothing at all.”
This started a journey into the self, to find out who the hell he really is beneath all the layers of conditioning. It was this journey to discover his unique drivers, his WHY, that really allowed him to grow as a human. Now when he coaches young athletes, he makes sure they have a solid grounding of self-awareness.
“It’s a pre-requisite for my guys to be able to sit down and answer the deepest, most confronting line of questioning before they are deserving of our full attention and efforts to help them achieve their dreams.”
Nick sits them down as asks why.. then why, why . Layer after layer. “Its a really annoying conversation, but its illuminating. The beauty in the process.”
How can we find out our unique WHY?
Nick says: “The first thing is to academically and practically understand the ego, and in doing that evoke this practice of awareness.”
“I find it funny when my ego kicks in, and I catch it, I find it humorous. There is nothing substantial about what your ego has said except to create a defensive situation or power play.”
“The more forensic and analytical you become (about understanding your ego), the more room there is for philosophical meandering, which is where the real fun happens. Likewise the more you structure your week, the more freedom you will have from that week. Its the paradox that is ever-present, of adding structure to gain freedom.”
“Some of the Toltec literature should be a pre-requisite for understanding the ego. Everyone I know who has read Eckhart Tolle has been able to grasp his concepts. Some of the Toltec stuff sets the story of understanding the ego.” See below for useful links to this literature.
How can I achieve Freedom through discipline?
An alternative way to look at discipline is the “compassion to do something”.
I asked Nick. Do you ever feel like you “have to” train? Never. He trains because he this is natural expression of who he is, so his training is an act of compassion, rather than an act of strict adherence to external drivers.
“We undershoot our population in what they are capable of by such a drastic amount… its shameful. These guys (athletes he coaches) get whiff of the fact they really don’t have a ceiling, they break through that in the first fortnight and thats what gets them out of bed. The harder the session, the more dedication there is. They are like old world explorers, thinking, where is this going to go? That’s what gets them out of bed”.
How do you actually grow from failure?
Check out these wisdom bombs on failure and how our culture has it all wrong!
“The perception around failure is completely wrong.”
“Failure is really a failing of either skills or challenge… You can grow your skills or pick a better challenge.”
“Failure is diagnostic. It isn’t the end -game. Failure has just told you where you are.”
“Life is dynamic. The more failures you have had the more opportunities you have had to oscillate between strategies and find something right for that time.”
“Why would you perceive failure as a static end point when no part of your biology stops when you fail?”
“The perception of end-point, failure point is totally artificial. Its just a continuum. Its a point on a spiral. Its cyclical. Like night and day, the earth spinning. Why would failure and success be any different?”
How best to approach goals?
“We don’t really set them. We have a line which we let evaporate… We have invested our time a lot more in presence and awareness. The goals end up glistening in front of you almost organically.”
“A goal might stretch you, but if you can’t conceive of how good you potentially might be, then you are putting a limiting factor on that by setting a goal.”
“If you have a goals and you are fixated on that goal what aren’t you employing to achieve your potential.”
What else contributes to ultimate performance, and achieving potential?
“We have a motto at the Kayak club. It’s crude.” (Listen into find out what it is!) “Basically: Have a real, hard go. Bottom out. You are going to learn about yourself. The potential at the other end of the spectrum is limitless.”
“You have resting state and you have complete and utter lactic acid building up to the point your gums hurt, and you can’t control your tongue and your dribbling down you face and you know thats the point you have gone to, and you know who you are, you know where you sit at any given time. A great % of the population will never know where they are on this spectrum.”
Listen to minute 33 to have your mind blown. The deep side of the Motto.
Cultivating Happiness and Motivation
“Many people think happiness and motivation is a divine right. Im quick to suggest that its completely at your mercy, whether or not you are motivated or happy with something based on your perception and the effort you are employing in any given situation.”
Massive takeaway from this episode with Nick?
Self-knowledge is the root of high performance and happiness. Examine your ego. See failure as a diagnostic tool on a continuum of self-expression. Goals are limiting. You are in total control of your motivation and contentment in life.