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Gold Medal Moments – Wise Words from Adam Kreek

Gold Medal Moments – Wise Words from Adam Kreek



“Life isn’t about living a bubble-wrapped existence. Life is about living a full life…and living to tell the tale.”

– Adam Kreek, Olympic Gold Medalist & Professional Speaker

I was recently volunteering for Threads of Life at the 10th annual Make it Safe Occupational Health & Safety Conference in Richond, BC (put on by the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC) and one of the keynote speakers was Adam Kreek.

Adam won an Olympic Gold medal in Rowing in 2008. Four years later, he and three teammates orchestrated an unsupported row across the Atlantic Ocean (that doubled as a research and education project).

I must confess to being rather pleasantly surprised at being blown out of the water (couldn’t resist the pun!) by Adam’s powerful presentation – partly because I wasn’t particularly expecting to hear his messages at a safety conference.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a workplace health & safety conference is probably the BEST place to have heard what he had to say. Adam’s presentation was about passion, purpose, perseverance and performance…all of which are necessary in order for an organization to ensure their workplace is a healthy & safe environment for everyone.

I took quite a few notes during Adam’s presentation, so here are a few key messages:

On Achieving Your Goals…

“It’s actually quite simple to achieve what you want: Dream Big. Act Small. Work Hard.”

“It’s no so much about what you get. It’s about who you become on the journey.”

“Life is a game of forward motion…what are you moving towards?”

On Adversity…

“The goal remains…it’s just the path that has changed.”

“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It’s the strength to continue that matters.”

“Reflect. Learn. Grow. Let it go.”

“There is an important difference between ‘I am a failure’ and ‘I am someone who has failed.'”

“I can separate the facts of the situation from the feelings of the situation.”

“Focus on what you can control.”

On Stress…

“Your nerves exist to serve.”

“It is so important to turn stress into ACTION.”

“Life is about action…moving forward. If I’m stressed out, I need to find a way to move forward.”

“It is important to take a break before we break.”

“You need to figure out how HOW you can you take a break that is regenerative and useful…for you.”

On Perseverance…

“People ask me how I crossed the ocean. I tell them ‘one stroke at a time.'”

When it Comes to “Success,” here are Four Important Questions to Ask Yourself…

1. Are you healthy?

2. Are you self-aware?

3. Are you serving your community or making the world a better place in some way?

4. Are you building authentic relationships?

Gold Medal Moments

At one point, Adam asked the audience “What is YOUR next Gold Medal Moment?” He then explained to us what it was like to cross the finish line and realize their team had won Gold. It sounded pretty incredible. But as Adam pointed out, that actual moment of winning gold passed very quickly…so when we are striving to achieve our own Gold Medal Moments, we would be wise to enjoy – and continually learn from – the journey/process of getting there.

In closing, I would like to share one more story from Adam’s presentation – because to be honest, this is the story I have been telling people over the past few days:

Shortly after Adam had retired as an Olympic Athlete, he was asked by a local school to deliver a presentation. He said sure – but he was really nervous because public speaking wasn’t something he had done much of at all. So he showed up, did the presentation and was pretty sure he’d done a lousy job! But he hoped that maybe it wasn’t as bad as he’d thought.

Nope. After he’d finished speaking, the principal took him aside and said, “Adam: that was the worst presentation I have ever heard.”

Well, all of us at the safety conference roared with laughter! Why?

Because Adam obviously learned from his abject failure and rocky start as a professional speaker – and went on to become an outstanding presenter 🙂

“You row an ocean by taking one stroke at a time. You build a business by solving one problem at a time. Make forward progress one inch at a time. Inch by inch. Repeat.”  

– Adam Kreek

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Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.



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4 thoughts on “Gold Medal Moments – Wise Words from Adam Kreek”

  1. Thanks, Maureen…glad you enjoyed the blog! Adam’s presentation was very impactful. And it was so great to see you at the Make it Safe conference, as well!

    Take care and thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  2. This is a very interesting topic and even more so that it was at a safety conference. Because all though it is good to have safety measures put in place at work and at home and school etc. Like anything, it can go too far as well. I would have loved to hear his presentation. I’m guessing it was like having a good healthy balance. Too much one sided information is never really right. We should always hear both ends of the spectrum no matter what the topic. And too often these days we don’t get that. As a parent, I try very hard not to wrap my kids in bubble wrap. Like I see so many parents doing these days. Yes I get it, we all want to protect our children and don’t want to see them get hurt. But you have to let them be kids. You have to let them have small bumps and bruises. Because that’s how they learn! It’s part of life. Some Parents are so scared to let their kids loose that they shelter them too much. They keep them indoors and therefore stuck safely behind a screen. But is that really safe? Not in my opinion. My kids rarely sit in front of a screen. Instead they build tree houses with wood and nails and hammers, and dig posts in the ground, they paint said tree house. Climb trees and large hay bales, catch frogs in the sloughs, build rafts for the slough, experimenting what works and what doesn’t. They ride horses and quads and chase cows and look after their sheep. They wrestle in the house for hours on end and yes one of them usually ends up in tears at some point but they go right back at it. They drive the truck out in the field (they are only 6 & 8). They jump on a trampoline for hours. They make up games and crafts and do a lot of pretend play. We love them just as much as the next parent but we let them out of our sight. We let them experiment and explore and live life to the fullest BECAUSE we love them. They learn how to problem solve, they learn to be independent. They learn how to get along. They use their creativity and strength and endurance. They get fresh air and exercise. And they learn about nature and animals and building. And most of all they learn to be TOUGH! I believe there is not enough tough kids out there these days because of the helicopter parent that won’t let them out of their sight. And it doesn’t prepare them for the tough world out there as adults.

  3. Wow…awesome feedback on this blog, Jac! You raise some excellent points…it makes me want to move to the country 🙂

    Take care and thanks so much for reading the Gold Medal Moments blog AND for taking the time to write such a heartfelt response.

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