I was greatly inspired by Episode 1 of Luke Storey’s fantastic Life Stylist podcast as he took his listeners through his craaaazy life story with great honesty and vulnerability, and it made for such a riveting show right out of the gate. You know this dude is for real as he really goes there and holds nothing back, and he’s really been bringing his A game to the airwaves.
I think Luke’s kickoff show has really helped form a connection and an understanding of the person from a distance that carries over into all his other interview shows and all the comments and observations he makes on his podcast. Abel James also did a great job on his website giving rich details about his background and life experience that made him who he is today.
I aspire to do the same. Especially since I occasionally get feedback from readers/listeners who wonder about a comment and ask whether I’m either kidding or a cocky obnoxious jerk. So the answer is, if I offend you, I’m definitely kidding.
You can see this written message at bradkearns.com/meet-brad and this podcast might be an added bonus value since I get to editorialize about my own life story whenever possible. You’ll learn about my childhood in Los Angeles and immersion into the world of endurance running and then triathlon, and my brief foray into the accounting profession that ended after 11.5 weeks in favor of the pursuit of a crazy dream of becoming a professional triathlete. Then I cover my time as a parent coaching little kids, how I got into speedgolf and high jumping, all while continuing my pursuit of peak performance goals, and finally, the meaning behind the name of the Get Over Yourself podcast.
One of the things I am most grateful for as I look back on my life is that I grew up before the digital age. It fostered a love for spending time outdoors, going on adventures, and generally just engaging in non-stop physical activity. Sports were always the centerpiece of my life, and I had the good fortune of not being in an overpressurized environment or having to deal with intense helicopter parenting. My school’s coaching system was hardly strict and regimented, but this actually worked out for the best, as I was able to go on my own path and nurture my passion for sports and competitive intensity.
High school days were packed with training. Workouts started super early, and while there was that undeniable intensity that comes with the commitment to training, life was good, and the social aspect of it all made it seem not as rigorous, but something that was really fun. By the time I turned 16, I had qualified for the National Junior Olympics finals in the 1,500 meter category, and by my senior year, I was ninth place in the California State High School Championships in the 1,600 meter category. Yes, I had big dreams of becoming a collegiate Olympic runner then, and off I went to college in Santa Barbara to pursue my passion.
It probably comes as no surprise that after years of intense focus on athletic track, I found that a fair amount of my self-esteem and happiness was tied to the results of my workouts and competitive efforts. But being forced to the sidelines in college really changed my perspective. It opened my eyes and allowed me to see that my greatest strengths – focus, discipline, and competitive toughness – could also easily lead to my downfall! But it is so important to see every you go through as an opportunity for learning and personal growth – especially struggles and setbacks. Realizing that I needed to switch gears at the tail end of my college experience could have been a real feeling sorry for myself moment. But I didn’t want to waste time feeling sorry for myself, so I got back on that bike – literally and figuratively.
Soon after graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in business and economics, I found myself sitting in rush hour traffic, heading to downtown Los Angeles, where I was working for (at the time) the world’s largest accounting firm. I lasted 11.5 weeks.
I set off on a new path, and my days were filled with hours of difficult workouts, napping, eating healthy foods, studying race results, plotting the travel and competitive schedule, and talking training and competitive strategy with my sidekick on the triathlon journey, Andrew MacNaughton. I loved the day-to-day experience of being a professional athlete. The focus I had for my passion gave my life purpose, and even through challenging, frustrating, or exhausting moments, I always carried a sense of deep satisfaction and contentment because I simply enjoyed every step of the process of pursuing my goals and my dreams.
At my peak in 1991, I was two-time US national champion and ended the season ranked #3 in the world. But after 45 races (with 15 victories), a seven-race win streak, and 80,000 miles on Pan-Am airlines over my two best years of ’90-’91, I was exhausted and basically required 12 hours of sleep each night. I was completely exhausted, and it was clear that it was time to call it a day. And while I did find it challenging re-immersing back into the real world, I had learned so much through the process of pushing my physical limits, overcoming my fears, and striving to accept both victory and defeat gracefully. This is why the podcast is called Get Over Yourself: because I deeply believe in cultivating a pure motivation for peak performance goals, releasing the attachment of your self-esteem to the outcome, and thereby unleashing a healthy competitive intensity to be the best you can be.
You can check out the full ‘Meet Brad’ piece here, and thank you for listening to this special episode of the podcast. I hope it inspires you to, as my MOFO partner Brian Johnson of Ancestral Supplements always says, “Do something that scares the shit out of you every day.”
Sports have been a centerpiece of Brad’s life. His passion for sports was unpolluted by today’s disturbing influences. [05:10]
Brad was shocked as he branched out from middle school, from being the fastest kid on the block, to finding competition for equally skilled runners. [07:22]
He found that with the influence of his runner friends, he could adopt a serious determination to improve and to enjoy the social aspects. [10:52]
By his senior in high school year, he was ninth place in the California state high school championships. [15:56]
Brad, off to become a college runner at UCSB, learned a big lesson. This was a disaster. [17:29]
Influence of his competitive teammates proved to be Brad’s downfall. Listen to your own voice. [20:31]
It took disappointment with the college career to turn him toward triathlon. [22:16]
I think it’s important to see everything that you experienced as an opportunity for learning and personal growth, especially struggles and setbacks. [24:15]
Being an accountant was not a good fit for Brad, so he followed his dream of becoming a triathlete. [26:24]
Every day was filled with hours of difficult workouts, napping, eating healthy foods (that we thought were healthy at the time.) [28:56]
“King of the Desert” was one of the first big victories as a pro. He tells how his career grew. [30:46]
To prepare mentally for his next competition, he embarked on a solo bike ride of 140 miles. [40:42]
Reflecting back on his emerging career, Brad realizes how he struggled to not get swallowed up by competition. [44:51]
The best years of 1990 and 1991 found Brad feeling exhausted that never quite cleared. [48:37]
Get Over Yourself. Release your attachment of your self-esteem to the outcome. [50:17]
Brad learned how to “retire” with grace and dignity and calm competition by watching his Dad. [51:48]
Brad maintained his competitive intensity by coaching little kids! [55:29]
Speed golf, sprinting, and high jumping has kept Brad’s focus on maintaining his skills with enjoyment and passion and personal growth. [59:08]
You will slowly and imperceptibly lose your edge and extinguish your competitive spirit over time if you don’t keep up your passion for activity. Don’t obsess on the trappings of success. [01:08:02]
When we succeed with tangible goals, we create oversized egos. Focus on making an effort towards improvement. [01:12:51]
We become addicts to instant gratification at the expense of that long-term, happiness and contentment. [01:16:34]
Don’t attach parental pride to the child’s accomplishments. [01:18:43]
Cultivate the beautiful passion, curiosity, and competitive intensity that makes us human, but also release the attachment of your self-esteem to the outcome. [01:20:12]
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- “The essence of sport is that while you’re doing it, nothing else matters. But after you stop, there’s a place generally not very important where you would put it and you can take the word sport and fill in the blank for whatever challenge or peak performance goal you’re facing in life.” – (Sir Roger Bannister)
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Get Over Yourself Podcast
Hello listeners. This is Brad Kearns. I thought I should introduce myself after 200 shows. Yes, we are hitting that milestone. Maybe it’s with this very show who knows? No. I mean really introduce myself and do a show where you can learn about my life journey today. Get a sense of where I’m coming from. Hopefully get entertained with riveting storytelling and come away with a greater appreciation for what I’m trying to do with this podcast and my writing and everything else I’m communicating to the world. And I’m highly inspired to do this show by my former podcast, Luke Storey host of the life stylist podcast and the fantastic show that he produced as episode number one. So I’m a 200 shows behind him, but what a great way out of the gate to listen to this guy and what his goals were for the podcast. And he takes you through a riveting, a life journey, a crazy life story, far crazier than I can ever offer up because include his dark past and Hollywood and drug addiction and going to the depths of pain and suffering and pulling himself out of it and going on this amazing journey of health and biohacking and health optimization that he’s known for today, uh, he’s told the story with great honesty and vulnerability.
He didn’t pull anything back and it went on for enough time to where you really felt like you knew the dude. Uh, by the time you listen to his very first episode and learning that deep personal story helps frame everything else. He says on all additional shows. I also give credit to Abel James and his awesome website, a former podcast guest, the fat burning man podcast is one of the most popular and longest running shows. And he does a great job on his website with a link learning who Abel is and what his background is and his musical journey coming into his health journey. And you get a great background and insights about Abel James, the person. I posted a lengthy article called meet Brad, uh, next to my bio, which was the facts and the wonderful achievements of winning many triathlon races. Uh, but it’s kinda like you’ve read enough of that to, um, to gag, uh, on the planet today.
And so I thought I would just, uh, get out the keyboard and start writing about the kid who was obsessed with sports when he grew up and, uh, got in trouble a fair amount in school for not paying attention and distracting people. And then, uh, off we are and running with the, uh, meet Brad story on Brad kearns.com. So the show here is framed by that article and I’ll be quoting from an extensively, but I also get to do color commentary as we take the journey through my own life. Are you ready? What do you think? Let’s do it. Alright, here we go.
The first section of the written article is titled “Distraido” and that means distracted in espanol. I recently discovered my second grade report card in a box in my mom’s attic in the comments the teacher wrote “Bradley is a bright student, but tends to distract the other children and disrupt class.” When I read it, I kind of freaked out because those characterizations played out in middle school. When I was called into the principal’s office high school, same thing and into adult life as well. Here I am distracting you with this meandering Meet Brad podcast. I am an athlete and author and a podcast host interested in ancestral health. That’s primal, paleo keto carnivore, and so forth athletic peak performance, and how to live a long, healthy, happy life. The description of the get over yourself podcast. If you read it on iTunes, it says covering health, fitness, peak performance, personal growth, relationships, happiness, and longevity. Sports have been a centerpiece of my life ever since I was a little kid. I had the good fortune of experiencing a childhood that predated the digital age and it was filled with nonstop, outdoor physical activity and adventure in the place known as Los Angeles, California.
Okay, well, we were roaming air conditioned shopping malls instead of pristine forest or windswept coastlines, but at least we were active and creative. My passion for sports was unpolluted by today’s disturbing influences of over pressurized competitive environments and over-caffeinated helicopter parents. The environment of hands-off parenting and a coaching system at my school that was not regimented left me to nurture my own focus and competitive intensity. And I feel that was way better than if I had been pushed along. I know a lot of people credit the wonderful coach that helped them straighten their life out when they were a 10th grader and going South. Uh, but for me, I felt like it was a gift to just kind of discover my own path. And in the case of my athletics, my journey into elite endurance sports in, in running, and then later in triathlon, it was not a straightforward path.
So it started in middle school and they would of course have races. And, uh, everyone had to tie in themselves for the, uh, the fitness assessments and so forth. Everyone’s familiar with gathering the kids and having a race. And I did really well. I was in a very small pond and I was the fastest guy. And so that was a really nice thing, uh, for my self esteem and forming an identity as an athlete, particularly in endurance running where I could excel. And then, uh, I started to pursue this further and I’d sign up for these big, uh, 10 K races around Los Angeles on the weekend. And I discovered that there were a bunch of kids my age that could kick my butt. And so venturing out past the small world where I was the, the, the fastest guy, uh, was quite discouraging. And you can just show the, um, flawed mindset of the young kid who, you know, was all about, uh, getting the recognition, uh, winning.
And then when I met my match, instead of kind of being inspired by that competition to get better, I kind of gave up and got discouraged. And so by the time I went to high school I had the potential to be a quality distance runner coming in from, you know, doing pretty well and actually training in middle school. Uh, but I instead wanted to be a football player or a basketball star. Uh, but I went to a huge public high school in Los Angeles called Taft high school, 3000 students in three grades. And, uh, suffice it to say, I was not the caliber nor the size. I think I entered high school at 5″4″ and 115 pounds. So I was not a candidate for those major sports teams. And I ended up just defaulting over to the cross country team because they had to do something and I wasn’t going to be putting on the other uniforms.
But I was so disenchanted with my experience in middle school, that when we would head off for a workout, the large cross country team, you know, maybe there’s 50 people, you depart from school and you jog along the street and get over to the park or whatever the workout is. What I would do when we departed was I jumped into the bathroom at the gas station and I’d hide until everyone passed and then I’d exit and go straight home and have some waffles with powdered sugar and syrup and butter, and then go out and play on my trampoline and just be a regular kid, rather than being a serious runner into a high school program. I was not ready and that’s just the way it was. And luckily the coach, the program was not regimented serious enough to notice that I was missing all the workouts.
Uh, then we had this big meet, uh, all the way across Los Angeles, getting on the bus and dozens of high school kids there. So they had a two mile frosh soph race, uh, in the hot hilly smoggy park in the Harbor area of Los Angeles and what, there’s a hundred kids on the line from all these schools, crazy hectic scene. And what happened was I went out there and, uh, got into this race and I won the thing. And, uh, the guys on my team didn’t even recognize me cause I hadn’t practiced. And so that was a funny one. Uh, they maybe weren’t sure I did the whole course, but, uh, it was sort of a turning point where I’m like, you know what, maybe this running stuff is pretty good and maybe I should get involved and make an honest effort. Uh, but still that first year as a cross country team runner, uh, in sophomore year, the first year of high school in Los Angeles, um, I wasn’t highly committed.
I would blow off workouts easily. Um, I wasn’t performing to my potential. I was just doing okay and enjoying the social aspects of being on the sports team, but nowhere near, uh, someone who was, you know, really serious and, and going for the potential and focused and, uh, being guided by a regimented program. So what happens at that age is that you are, uh, increasingly influenced and directed by your peers. And so being around these runners, uh, I had the incredibly good fortune to, uh, associate with some, some guys who were really getting serious and committed and loved it and were, you know, on the path. And those would be be Dr. Steve Dietch, Dr. Steven Kobrine, and Dr. Todd Pearsons. Wow. Uh, all I had to do was hang around the scene and get sucked in and Dietch in particular, who went on to, uh, excellent college career.
He was an NCAA division two all runner at UC Riverside and competed for team USA in the world junior cross country championships against the greatest runners from around the globe in the junior division. That’s under age 20. So, Dietch, Kobrine, Pearsons what would happen would be, uh, we’d be part of the high school running program. And then, uh, Dietch from a neighboring high school, uh, would invite us over, uh, for the evening to hang out and, uh, get in another run. So he’d say, come on over, we’ll jog down to the yogurt store and get some frozen yogurt. That was the heyday of frozen yogurt time. Uh, but with Dietch, every single workout was gas pedal floor down pretty far. And so there was no such thing as an easy jog and we’d get over there and be running, uh, you know, six minute miles to the yogurt store. And this was after a pretty good practice in the afternoon.
So when you start doing doubles as a high school runner, you start to move your way through the improvement progression really quickly. And then Kobrine was from a, uh, legendary athletic family in Los Angeles. Uh, his father was an extremely high performing runner and he ran in a pack of other adults, uh, at 5:30 in the morning, year round, uh, at the park in the San Fernando Valley. So, uh, Dr. Steven, wasn’t a doctor then he’s doctor now, uh, he would pick me up at 5:08 in the morning, and he would drive over to the park and run with the father’s pack. And these guys were, you know, epitomy of the, the joy of running and distance running and the running boom of the seventies and eighties, and they’d laugh and joke and we’d run these extremely difficult eight mile runs in the hills in the morning.
And so what that enabled us to do in the afternoon was to grab an ice cream and show up to a cross country or track practice, and just check the box that we attended the class, but we didn’t need to run because we’d already done so much in the morning. So it was like a, that devil’s bargain of. Am I going to wake up at five in the freaking morning as a high school student and bang out eight miles in the hills so that I can have ice cream in the afternoon. Uh, but that was, you know, really fun and starting to escalate the training and getting into a real runner support group of my peers and you know, what, it wasn’t anything that was, uh, really intense or serious in that manner that you might think. So that, that I see so much today with young athletes getting pushed so hard.
Uh, this includes my son who loved basketball as a little guy in elementary school. And so you’re compelled to go into this AAU tournament basketball world, uh, because the level of competition is preparing you for the high level of, uh, competition in high school basketball, and the old days, it was the park leagues, the community leagues, and then you’d show up in high school. And if you were tall enough, you got picked for the team. And now it’s so accelerated even at the youngest of ages and they’re practicing and practicing. And he almost default by default had to focus on one sport before he was even in high school, crazy stuff, just because of the escalation of the intensity of the practice and the, uh, competitive experience, uh, in our case, it was more of a social thing. So we’d hang out, we’d have fun.
We’d run down to the yogurt store. Yes, it was a tough workout, but then we’d sit around the yogurt store and, you know, make it a social evening where the, uh, the training intensity or the commitment level to a distance running was incidental to the social experience. Yeah. And so it was driven by those wonderful attributes that I talk about on the show now, passion, purpose, and a healthy process oriented approach. And pretty soon I went from the guy hiding in the bathroom at the gas station to qualifying for the national junior Olympics finals in the 1500 meters when I was 16 years old. Yes, Dietch and I traveled to wonderful Lincoln, Nebraska to stay in the dorms for a week in the middle of stinking hot summer. So we could run circles around the track and the intense humidity of the Nebraska summer and try to get distinction in the national junior Olympics, whoop de doo.
And by my senior year of high school, I was ninth place in the California state high school championships in the 1600. And this is some pretty badass competition in high school in California, man, we’re talking about the state meet California. You go there and you will see future Olympians for sure. And the annals, the alumni of the California state high school track meet, Oh my gosh, there’s Olympic gold medals left right upside down in every event. And what was cool was I had no business being there. So I qualified for the state meet down in the city of Los Angeles championship. Uh, but when I got there to Sacramento, uh, I noticed in the, uh, the paperwork that I was seated 24th out of 27 runners in the state, and boy, I got on the track with nothing to lose. I was there to, you know, pursue personal peak performance, maybe get a better time than the time that I had achieved in the, uh, the city meets. And I’ll share more of this later in my triathlon story, but having that positive attitude, that pressure free mentality, because I was so far behind, uh, the standards set by the leading runners in the state. Uh, it gave me that, uh, magic of being in the peak performance zone, where I was unencumbered by my own mind and my fears and insecurities and the pressures of having to perform. And I surprisingly, uh, made it to the finals and I got a time of four minutes, 19 seconds, which was a lot better than my previous time. Uh, so, uh, I was harboring big dreams by that time of being a collegiate runner.
I signed up with UC Santa Barbara, uh, to go continue my career and progress. And that was a big fat disaster. And it was really devastating to me personally, that I’d put so much time and energy and passion into running. And when I got involved in a college program that was dysfunctional on many levels, all I did was get sick and injured. So when I showed up there out of high school, I did pretty well on the varsity team. I was the fourth or fifth man all season long, uh, made it to the, uh, the PAC 12 PCAA championship race with some of the best runners in the world, from the big schools in the pack 12. Uh, but then, uh, the, the environment was one that fostered competition amongst teammates rather than a supportive environment and a lookout for the individual. So what would happen is like on a cross country example, uh, you have 22 kids going out for the team, and of course they’re allowed to work out and you have a big pack and it’s nice to have that volume, but only seven, uh, runners qualify to travel, to, uh, meet, which is the coolest thing to do ever, uh, get the cool uniform, represent the school, get the attention of the ladies, et cetera. So you’re on the travel team. You’re scoring points, you actually count. And then most of the other kids, uh, totaling over 20, uh, are just there for the workouts. And then they’re allowed to run in the home meets, but they might be running with no shirt on because they’re not official members of the team. Okay. So, um, you’re vying for one of those seven spots and you’re looking at all the people around you that you train with and you’re trying to be friendly with, but it easily becomes a situation where you’re trying to one up, uh, your actual teammates and then here’s what would happen, which was just the worst and most ridiculous thing was we had a very carefully orchestrated training schedule by the coach who was a top runner himself. And, you know, we’re going out there Tuesday and we’re doing 14 hard miles with hill repeats and we’re trashing ourselves pretty good to stimulate that fitness breakthrough.
And, you know, everyone’s just wiped by the end of that workout. And so you show up the next day for practice and the coach says, all right, guys, sing songs, cruise around campus, look at the girls, you know, go down the beach, jump in the ocean, come back, whatever, you know, very easy, take it easy today. Well, what happened in variably. It was one of those 22 kids. One or more would have missed the previous day’s practice because they had an engineering lab or because they, uh, got tied up and, uh, couldn’t do it. And so on this jog that was supposed to be the recovery day. What would happen when 20 kids are singing songs and cruising around campus and looking at the girls on the beach would be the pace would imperceptibly escalate, escalate, escalate, because there were a couple of fresh bodies in the pack that were driving it up to a six minute pace and who wants to get dropped from the big pack singing songs and being part of the action, uh, just because it’s supposed to be a recovery day, but that was my path to getting sick and injured five seasons in a row before I was completely disgusted with the whole thing.
Uh, this is a, another section of the written story on the website. It’s called “High Rising”. As a young person who formed my identity as an athlete and attached a fair amount of my happiness and self esteem to the results of my workouts and races being forced to the sideline at UCFB was my first awakening into a more evolved perspective. I realized that my great strengths of focus, discipline and competitive toughness could also very easily lead to my downfall via over-training. A flawed results oriented mindset, an ego driven, unregulated, competitive fire that left my best performances in workouts instead of save them for the starting line. Yes, I’m blaming the pack mentality and the kid who didn’t show up for the previous workout. But of course I could have been smart enough and self-reliant enough to just back off and do my own easy run.
If the pack was going too fast, I always had that, uh, you know, ability, but that’s asking a lot for a 17 year old kid coming onto a college campus and running with the, the older, more established kids for the first time. You want to like put your ego out there every time you can’t help it. And over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to talk to engage with a number of young elite athletes, distance runners, triathletes, and whatnot. And I always say, listen to your own voice, preserve your own voice no matter what, no matter how intense of a program or a situation you’re in with a coach, teammates, whatever you always have to answer to yourself first. Yeah. I just couldn’t get that at that time. But boy, it was building a building me into a, that self-reliant athlete that came along later.
So when I realized these strengths could easily lead to my downfall, uh, a flawed results oriented mindset, ego-driven, unregulated competitive fire. Yeah. Okay. File that away. So when I finally walked away from the program in disgust, I borrowed my brother’s bicycle. Who’s 6’3-1/2″ , (I’m 5’10-1/2″). And I got that bike. Uh, got a ride from my home in Los Angeles back up to school, took a weekend and went home. And I announced that I was going to ride my bicycle back home, uh, the following weekend, 103 miles. So no training, a bike, that was way too big for me, but I got on that bike and pedaled, and it was one of the greatest days of my life. It was my 19th birthday. And the idea was that I was going to pursue this exciting new sport of triathlon.
And that was my, uh, exit into the running obsession with the college running team. And now I had become a new kind of athlete with new goals and a fresh new start. So yeah, I went straight to the bike shop. I don’t know if it was the same weekend. Uh, but I went and got myself a properly, uh, properly sized bike and joined up with the UCSB cycling team, which was really fun. Cause I learned how to be a cyclist and riding a pack and do all these fun, new things that had been, uh, never, never acquainted with before. Cause I was just running, running, running. Uh, it was a great turning point in life to immediately pivot from a distance running obsession into the fresh challenge of triathlon. And it helped me build the fantastic life skill of going with the flow instead of forcing things to happen that aren’t naturally meant to be. It wasn’t going to work for me as a runner at UC Santa Barbara. I accepted that with a smile on my face and got on that dang bike and pedal and pedal and pedal till I got home. So anybody who’s, uh, you know, stuck in a rut, boy, what a way to break out of a rut is to, uh, you know, figuratively speaking, uh, right away from it for the whole entire day.
I think it’s important to see everything that you experienced as an opportunity for learning and personal growth, especially struggles and setbacks, no feeling sorry for myself. Right. I jumped right back on the bike at the end of my senior year as a business economics major at UC Santa Barbara, a great tragedy occurred in my life graduation. So what happened was I was teleported from the beach and bike life at one of the coolest schools in the world, right there on campus point, UC Santa Barbara, and all of a sudden, where am I? Boom, rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, working in downtown LA for the world’s largest accounting firm. It was then known as Peat, Marwick and Mitchell. It’s now called KPMG. And lefty Mickelson. So boy, that was not a long career there because I was absolutely miserable from the very first day. I lasted 11 and a half weeks. And then I finally met with my manager and announced my retirement from the firm to pursue a career as a professional triathlete, which was an absolutely ridiculous notion at that time, since the sport was so new, it had very little economic opportunity unless you were one of the very best guys.
And I was literally miles behind the professional racers with the amateur events that I’d participated in to that date. Yeah, it was totally ridiculous on a practical level, but you know, now these days we’re talking about the power of manifesting and I’ve had guests on the show talk about it. It’s very interesting to me. Some people discounted as silliness that or misinterpret the, the whole idea of visualizing your future and creating it or making it happen. Uh, but I realize now, you know, when I was reading those triathlon magazines on the job, uh, sneaking away to the bathroom to read another article, cause I was so bored at work, uh, and I was envisioning this opportunity for myself and I was gonna make it happen no matter what. I was just relentless in my desire to move on and, and do something besides this miserable position, no offense to those people who are on the right path and start out at the accounting firm and build their career and that’s their calling.
But for me, I was a misfit and it wasn’t working for me at that time. So I had to, uh, had to make the move. I remember talking to my dad, we went out to dinner and I announced that I was going to retire from the firm. And he thought that was a surprising choice. And his perspective of professional athletics, I think was framed with the, the major sports of the NFL and the NBA. And he said, look, you’ve got to understand these professional athletes are freaks. They’re just, you know, they’re not normal. They’re, they’re a, you know, one in a million humans. And I don’t think that you should, uh, see yourself as a very viable option. Uh, but I, I sort of, no matter what he said, even though his influence is really strong on me, uh, I knew a different story in my mind.
And I had split times, you know, you get reports from the triathlon races of how you did at each event. And I was already running at a level of the very best pros. And I knew that I just needed more time to peddle my bike instead of working in the accounting firm and get to the swimming pool and swim and swim and swim and try to get better. So my parents were very supportive. They thought it was kind of cute and exciting that I was going to try this. And I think we all thought it was maybe a sabbatical year from my career path that I’d worked so hard for, uh, to, to establish, uh, when I went to college. Um, But the sense of freedom and excitement, I felt leaving that downtown LA high rise for the last time was one of the great moments of my life. I felt like I had escaped from jail. And again, this is now a couple of years later from my, uh, my story riding home from UCSB. But I did the same thing. I retired from the accounting firm and pedaled a hundred miles the very next day, uh, in the public accounting world, this is known as a detox
Anyway. Uh, I had no training for that. My legs felt like rubber, but I was on this new path and it was such a wonderful time in life because I was able to do what I loved every single day. And they didn’t, again, I didn’t have these harmful outside influences like economic pressures at that time, uh, judgemental or negative friends or family, I didn’t have FOMO or FOKU ,that’s fear of missing out or fear of keeping up. I wasn’t even troubled by my pedestrian finishes at my first local professional races. I was simply overjoyed to pursue personal improvement and compete in the same field as the world’s best multi-sport athletes. Even though it wasn’t in the same area code at the finish line, I was right there in the mix of it. And it’s such a cool thing. And triathlon, as you can line up right next to top athletes, not like you can do that in the MBA or, you know, team sports, but we were right there.
And then you get a report in the mail showing just how your time compared in each event to the top guys in the world. So every single day was filled with hours of difficult workouts, napping, eating healthy foods. What we thought were healthy at the time, right? Studying race results, plotting the travel and competitive schedule and talking training and competitive strategy with my main man, my sidekick for the whole way on this triathlon journey, Andrew McNaughton, frequent guest on the show, and we’ve had many shows on the Primal Blueprint podcast, Primal Endurance podcast, talking about endurance training. And it was so great to have someone who had the very same disposition, life goals, life situation. And so we would be out there all the time, just, you know, working through challenges and dreaming of the same thing. We dreamed of success, fame and fortune, but, and a big but here we were consumed by a tremendous passion for the day to day experiences of being professional athletes.
It was a simple focused and purposeful life that brought deep satisfaction and contentment, even when things were difficult, frustrating, or exhausting, right. We didn’t need the fame and fortune and the, and the, uh, you know, the tangible success to be totally enamored and satisfied really with this lifestyle. So that distinction there that we dreamed of it, and we tried very, very hard to get it, but we enjoy the journey along the way. That’s where the magic is. We weren’t just out there training all day long for the fun of it. No, we wanted to make money. We would disparge, uh, the other athletes and how much they were making when we could make nothing and get turned down by sponsors. And we just wanted it so bad and we were relentless and competitive, but it was all enjoyable, was all in that, uh, positive, optimistic, mutually supported context.
Okay. So the next section of the story is called “King of the Desert”. At the end of my first season as a pro Andrew and I got on a plane and traveled to niece France on the French Riviera for the world, long course triathlon championships. That was a two mile swim in the Mediterranean, a 75 mile bike ride up in the French Alps on an extremely difficult course up to these medieval villages, going down, death, defying descents, and climbing again and again to another village. And then a 20 mile run on the promenade Des Anglais. That’s the main road following the coastline in Nice France. So this was a really exciting event and kind of a, uh, a checkpoint for our careers because we’d been training really hard and continuing to improve, but we really had nothing to show for it. And we were just a tiny tick below, uh, a breakthrough that you can experience and then realize that you have some business, uh, racing with these guys and pursuing a pro career.
But we had that glimmer in our eyes, a hope and a dream that maybe something special could occur and we could compete on the world level. And, Oh my gosh, the day was incredible. I had a wonderful performance on the swim and on that hilly bike ride and I got to the run and I felt great. I was having the race of my life and we were getting near the turnaround. So mile 10 of a 20 mile run. And I was all the way up running with some of the top pros. And I could not believe my eyes. These are the legends that I’d read about in the magazine. Only nine months prior when I was working at the accounting firm and now we’re duking it out on the French Riviera, one guy named Ken Gloss. Who’s one of the greatest triathletes of all time.
He competed 30 Hawaii Ironmans in a row. Uh, but back in the day, he was one of the top long distance athletes in the world. And so I’m running with this guy Gloss one of the heroes of the sport, and I decided he wasn’t going fast enough for me. So I decided to drop him and I moved all the way up into ninth place. Uh, I was a little bit, uh, out of my league at that point. And I sustained a very severe bunk and endurance athletes know that’s when you run out of blood sugar. And so you will feel fine one moment. And then moments later, you’ll start to get dizzy and lightheaded and you won’t be able to continue at all. So I was crashed and burned on the curb and then walking up to the next aid station where I inhaled all the sugar items that I could, but I, my race was destroyed at the halfway mark of the run. And it was pretty devastating. I ended up walking the whole thing cause I wanted to finish and I got 126th place instead of dreaming of that top 10 that I could taste right there. And then following the race that was supposed to be the end of the season, I got a train pass. I went all over Europe by myself. Uh, I would ride the train at night and then I’d get out. And my sightseeing strategy when I got to Rome in the morning or Florence or whatever the city I was in was that just run all around the city. So I was still kind of chomping at the bid, uh, wanting for more action and wanting to continue my pursuit of fitness, uh, while I was on vacation in Europe. And if I found a swimming pool, which was a rare opportunity, I would get in that pool and I would swim as fast as I can.
And until I was totally exhausted because I knew I wouldn’t find another pool for a long time, uh, toward the end of my 30 day, uh, journey around Europe, I was running out of both money and food. And it’s such a funny story to tell now. My mom’s listening. I’m sure going, what the heck? What is it? Uh, I could have, you know, uh, probably helped that. But back in the day, you know, all there was, it was a random payphone here and there. If you wanted to call the States, it was a big ordeal. He had to have all these coins. So I was literally running out of money and food with, uh, maybe three or four days left, uh, before my flight ticket home from Paris. And so he can’t even imagine that today, like if my kid was in Europe and he was running out of money, he would text me.
I would probably then launch the Venmo or the PayPal app and hook them up for the next three days. We can work it out later when you get home, but this was a different time. And so, uh, I returned home from this supposedly at the end of the season and I dropped, uh, some, some body fat and that turned me into, uh, the lean mean highly fit athlete from all that running through all those foreign cities. So all I needed to do was get back on my bike that I had missed entirely. And I jumped on that thing and I wrote, uh, over 300 miles, a couple of weeks in a row. And we realized that there were a couple more races left on the calendar that I could enter and kind of keep this dream alive and keep this season alive. And I mean that because I was running out of shekels by that time, I was delivering pizzas in the evening, but a year’s a long time to pop in for airplane flights when you’re really not making any income whatsoever from the sport and winter is coming.
So that means there’s no races, no opportunity to dream about making money, whether I could or not. Uh, at least there was a race on the calendar during the summer where we could say, Hey, maybe if I got in the top 10 here, I could get a check and pay off some of my credit cards. So, um, my back was getting pushed against the wall and there we go with a brand new race that was announced out in Palm Springs, California called the Desert Princess run bike run world championships series. And this was a really special event that came out of nowhere. It was the first time ever that organizers had, uh, created a long distance duathlon race. So run bike run. There’s no swimming in the winter. So they, you do a initial run and then a bike and then another run. And typically these are, uh, uh, low key events that are short in duration.
So they might have a, a 5K run and a 20 mile bike ride for people that just want to, uh, have a brief introduction into the sport of duathlon or they called it biathlon back then. Uh, so this was a major event that they organized as a showdown between the world’s number one ranked triathlete at the time. His name was Scott Molina, the Terminator, I believe he is still the winningest triathlete of all time for the number of victories on the pro circuit. And there was a specialist in this, uh, this offshoot sport of duathlon named Kenny Souza, and he was undefeated and he would train with the best triathletes in the world. He couldn’t swim, but he was a run bike run specialist with no peer and was one of the most exceptional endurance athletes on the planet. He could train with the very best and run and bike with the very best.
And so in this little sport, he was absolutely dominant. So for the first time ever Souza would face top triathlon competition like Scott Molina. And so Molina number one, Souza number one. And we were so excited to travel out there and compete on this really difficult race course of a 10 K run, 62 mile bike. That’s 38 miles and another 10 K run. So I was just happy to be part of the action. Uh, we would debate endlessly who we thought would win between Souza and Molina. And I went ahead and plotted out my own race, uh, inside the, um, the bubble of the, the big professional event out there. Uh, so I made a key calculation in the hotel room the night before the race that is if we were going to run a total of almost a half marathon, right, we’re going to run 6.2 miles at the outset, then do a very tough long bike ride. And then another 6.2 miles. I decided that on that first run, I should run at a sensible pace that I could hold for. Let’s say doing a half marathon. So I stuck to my plan, but everyone was so excited about this brand new event and the top athletes and the showdown that they just took off at the gun and went crazy on that first 10 K run.
So I came into the, uh, the transition area where you change from running to biking. And I was almost in the last place in the professional field. And I was so far behind the pack of the contenders that I couldn’t even see him. So, uh, then what transpired over the 38 mile bike ride? Maybe you can guess, but, uh, guys had, uh, let out too much out of the gate and the course was coming back to bite them because it turned out to be a surprisingly difficult course out there in the desert. It was still hot in November. There were these deceptive Hills that you had to climb and climb and climb into a heavy wind and then started to heat up. And, Oh my gosh, I started to pass a bunch of people that had that to me behind on the first run. And when I had my head down pedaling, as hard as I could got into the bike racks for the final 10 K run, I had unknowingly passed everybody on the course. So 10 K left to go. Uh, I discovered early on, uh, cause this, uh, press truck was following me. And I asked him what place I was in. And they said, what are you talking about? Your, your you’re in first place? And I, uh, you know, screamed the delight and then ran, like I stole something through the desert for that final 10 K broke the tape finish line for the first time, anywhere close in my professional career.
And then, uh, the media comes up and, and just mobs me at the finish you see, uh, for the winner. Uh, but they had two main questions for me. The first one was, what’s your name? And the second one was, Hey, did you, uh, you sure you did the entire course. So after we got those matters settled, I had a fun time, you know, launching my professional career into a new dimension. And as I said at the title of the race was the world championship series. So there was three identical races on the same course, each one, six week apart, uh, taking you through the winter. So that meant that six weeks after my glorious victory, uh, I was a now, uh, had a, a target on my back and everyone wanted to see if this guy was for real or if it was just a fluke because people, uh, misplanned and mispaced aste on the course.
So as I was training for the rematch, it was really exciting time. I was getting calls from sponsors, the people that turned me down the year before, uh, but there was a little bit of pressure mountain each successive day. When I was thinking about, you know, going back out there and defending my title, something, I couldn’t even imagine previously to participating in that race. So as a way of kind of blowing off some of that nervous energy and doing a final preparation event to give me the confidence that I needed and the clear head that I needed to head to the race course and give my best effort. I did something super crazy. Ten days before the second event in the series. And that was an all out solo time trial on my bicycle, 140 miles from Los Angeles to the middle of the Mojave desert and the town of Barstow.
Uh, so I left in the dark before it got in LA and I just set an aggressive pace, the entire ride. I barely stopped just to refill water, get a snack and just had my head down, going as hard as I could. And when I got to the finish line that Fosters Freeze in Barstow, I remember this amazing sensation of calmness and confidence came over me, and it wasn’t as though I was all pumped up and certain that I was going to win the race. It was more that I was a content that I had prepared to the best of my ability and that I was due to deliver a fantastic personal effort, because it was a great workout as a breakthrough workout, but more importantly, uh, I was going to be at peace with whatever the race outcome was. I wasn’t scared of anything.
I wasn’t feeling the pressure to perform again. And if I delivered a great race and got 10th place, that would have been, uh, you know, okay, because you can’t control those other things. And so having that, um, that comforting feeling that everything was going to be okay, no matter what, uh, that I was ready to open it up and deliver a fantastic personal effort. 10 days later, that freed me from, uh, allowing any blocks or insecurities or negativity to percolate in my mind, which can of course, uh, destroy your potential for peak performance. Uh, so when I got to Palm Springs for the weekend of the event, I remember as soon as I arrived at the hotel, uh, I’m noticing people be staring at me and pointing and whispering as I walked by. And there was the guy who stole the race the first time, and it was pretty, uh, overwhelming.
It was a lot to handle. And I feel like if I hadn’t had that experience, riding to Barstow and do that, that calming exercise of blasting my brains out for 140 miles, uh, I might’ve cracked under the pressure that you just can’t escape when you get to the race venue and the starting line and all the preparations and the chances for nervousness to build. So again, here we go with this, a race that I’d solved the puzzle, the previous time of going slow out of the gate. So of course I’m committed doing the same thing, taking it easy. And this time, instead of getting blown out by all the over-excited athletes, uh, about a mile into the first run I look around and there’s this huge pack right behind me on my shoulder, uh, because they’re keying off me now, finally. So, uh, that was pretty funny.
Uh, and I felt so comfortable, but I came in on the first run much faster than the previous day. So I knew it was in much better shape and I was ready to deliver a breakthrough performance, uh, Souza, the fastest runner of them all in the sport and in the field, uh, was way ahead. But by mile 10 on the bike, I’d caught him and passed him really quickly and just carried on by myself into the desert, uh, on this incredible day of a performance that was far superior, even to the great breakthrough race that I’d had, uh, six weeks prior. A pretty good story. One of the greatest upsets ever seen in the sport to date and chronicled in a magazine article titled King of the Desert. Uh, my Uncle Jack called me that for the 25 years following the race. So that was pretty cool.
And these victories for me, uh, legitimize my, my dream, my hard efforts to become a professional athlete. I realized that I belong there now, and this teed up a nine year Odyssey on the global triathlon circuit. Uh, so, and here’s the thing, the blissful disposition and the pure motivation that facilitated those two amazing upset victories by the surprise athlete in the desert often got swallowed up. I often forgot about who that guy was, that was just loving the journey and not worried about the pressure and the expectations heaped on you when you’re in a professional career. No, I was often swallowed up by the measuring judging forces at the modern world and the realities of professional athletics as a business and the athlete as a brand. We never used that word back then, but now everything’s brand this and brand that, so I was the Brad Kearns brand and I had to face a lot of things that have a high potential for diluting the purity of the experience.
And so what would happen was that allure of fixating on the results, the money that was out there, if you could come in first place, you made a lot more than when you came in fourth place. So it became kind of important. Do you know what I mean? Uh, but that alert, uh, caused me to become influenced by pressure ego demands, inpatience, greed, and instead of taking what my body gave me each day and being satisfied, I would force the issue and overtrain that was perhaps my biggest problem. This would need of course, to break down burnout illness and injury. Lack of talk about all the time on podcasts do, as I say, not as I did back then, but then what would happen is I would often recalibrate. So this is the gift of, uh, having a straightforward and intense and dramatic career where the results and the success and failure are so graphic.
You can’t hide from it. You can’t rationalize or tell a story like you might be able to, as you work your way up through the food chain in the corporate setting. So through the painful and raw self reflection that defeat forces upon you, I would eventually reconnect with my source of power and contentment. I was a young guy freed from that prison of the high rise, pursuing a dream and challenging my body every day to improve in three sports. And I got to travel all over the world to compete with the very best. So at what I would do is I’d get disgusted, burnt out, discouraged with bad results. I’d take a break from that heavy training that was chronically over-training, uh, back in the day. That’s what we all did. We didn’t have as sophisticated abilities now that we have to balance recovery, uh, but I’d take a vacation and then I’d eventually get up, get back into the groove and turn things around with good results and then keep that momentum going.
So when I reached my peak in 1991, I won the national series title, the triathlon series at Olympic distance. It’s known as the Bud Light Coke Grand Prix. And at that time it had the richest prize purse in the sport. I also won the National Sprint Championship. You can see that video on YouTube, uh, navigating off my website. And we got the, a wonderful overdubbing of the actual interview, uh, into a funny exchange where I impersonate Mike Tyson and Andrew McNaughton impersonates a Scottish announcer that has noxious questions, also won the Pan-Am ITU championship in Ixtapa, Mexico and ended the season ranked number three in the world, uh, when that hard work pays off and you get into a good rhythm as an athlete, things feel easy. I remember after several of my best victories feeling like I’d barely exerted myself and wondering why my main competitors weren’t able to keep pace on the steep hills on the bike course.
Alas, the experience of being in the stone is fleeting. And after a binge of 45 races, including 15 victories, a seven race wind streak, and 80,000 miles on Pan-Am airlines over my two best years of 1990 in 1991, I was totally cooked. And when the season ended, it ended on a high note in 1991 with a great win in Israel. I was exhausted and I had to sleep 12 hours every single night and take it easy for the entire winter. And guess what? Unlike other years, that feeling of deep exhaustion never quite cleared when I returned to training, travel, and competition, of course I was only what, 27, 28 years old, but I had already burned out my candle more or less. And I hung on for a couple more years, probably a couple more years, too long, cause I was starting to get my butt kicked.
Uh, but that was my peak. And that was that. And that’s the way it goes. Uh, at elite level sport. Of course, if I had to do things over, I could have moderated some of that high stress pattern, but I also reflect back thinking that, you know, if I’d worked that hard for that many years and dedicated my life so deeply to going for the win and going for those, uh, you know, highlights those peak performances, uh, I might as well grab them while I was at it, knowing that it was probably coming at a sacrifice to my longevity. In other words, I trade perhaps one victory for a handful of fifth place finishes. And that also goes for the financial aspects of it, the way the sport was situated, uh, during my career. Okay. So pretty soon it was all over the signs. The writing was on the wall. Re-emersion into real life was challenging.
I have an article on my website called How to Retire at 30, where I make light of, uh, having to move on from being an athlete and jumping into the, uh, the, the workforce real life. Uh, but I carried with me valuable character lessons learned through pushing my physical limits, overcoming my fears and striving to accept both victory and defeat gracefully. I have a maximum that sums up the most valuable attributes that I learned in the most intense and dramatic of competitive arenas that is athletics. It applies to all other peak performance goals. I’ve pursued in my life like parenting and career goals and anything else, Oh, you know what it is. Get over yourself.
Yes. That’s why this is the title of my podcast. I’m talking mostly to myself. I’m not trying to be snarky to the audience, but what it describes is cultivating a pure motivation for peak performance goals, releasing the attachment of your self esteem to the outcome and thereby unleashing a healthy, competitive intensity to be the best that you can be. The late sir, Roger Banister of Great Britain, the first human to break four minutes in the mile, back in 1954, put it this way. And one of the great sports quotes of all time, quote, “The essence of sport is that while you’re doing it, nothing else matters. But after you stop, there’s a place generally not very important where you would put it and you can take the word sport and fill in the blank for whatever challenge or peak performance goal you’re facing in life”.
Next section is “Maintaining the Edge”. So now I’ve been retired from the triathlon circuit for so long, over 25 years. I’ve forgotten most everything about that life, except for the details of my 31 victories. Thank you very much. However, I’m striving to maintain passion and competitive intensity for the rest of my life. My dad, Dr. Walter Kearns was a great role model in this area. He passed away in 2019 at age 97, after a fantastic life. And he was an absolute golfing phenom for decades. He played in the U S amateur at age 19 while he was the captain of the Princeton golf team. And 52 years later at age 71, he again competed in his national championship, The U S senior amateur. This is believed, especially by members of the Kearns family, uh, nothing official, but it’s got to be a record span between qualifying for the U S amateur America’s most prestigious tournament.
Walter was undoubtedly the top golfer in the world over age 90 for several years, he shot an even par 71 at the age of 87 and a 76 at the age of 92 ,shooting 16 strokes under your age on a championship golf course is at or near the best ever known in golf anals. And beginning with his first time under his age, when he shot a four under par 66 at the age of 67, Walter shot his age nearly 2000 times over the ensuing, 30 years. In other words, when he went out to play golf, he was going to shoot his age unless he had an absolutely horrible round. So it’s like we stopped counting after it got to a thousand. Another thing he did was he liked to hit the ball into the hole in what’s known as a hole in one. And if you’re a golfer, you know how extraordinarily rare these are.
Most people never get one. Some people get once in a lifetime and he had 11 in his golfing career, including get this five hole in ones in five years after turning age 80. I unfortunately didn’t get to see any of those cause he was playing with his own buddies or whatever. And so he would call me up of course, to report the news and you know, I’d get on the phone and he’d say, yeah, I played out there at Lakeside today and I got around to the sixth hole and I took out a six iron and guess what? I knocked it into the cup for a hole in one. And I’d scream on the other end of the phone line. That’s amazing. Who were you playing with? What’d you shoot. And then as these calls came in succession, you know, when you get the third or fourth or fifth phone call and he starts out well, a was over at Braemar and we got around to the sixth hole and I’m going, Oh no, no, no, no, no.
Oh my God. Yeah. So anyway, Walter enjoyed the game of golf at all times. And the challenge of hitting every single shot to the best of his ability, he worked so hard to be the best player he could be throughout his life, right up into his final shot that he took days before he died. And he applied that same passion and focus to his career as a general surgeon. When he retired from his practice in Los Angeles, at 71, he was asked to go out to the Indian reservation on the Navajo nation, near the four corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah. And he worked there for six years, twice as long as he was asked to because he just loved surgery and making a contribution. And even when he was retired with that, he volunteered at medical clinics in Los Angeles and maintained his medical license until he was 95 years old. Yeah. Retirement sitting around overrated people find some passion and some competitive intensity and maintain it throughout life.
The next stage of the story is called “M V P.” Well, I love that all consuming experience that was training and racing the professional triathlon circuit, but it’s much better to recognize and be willing to gracefully transition through distinct phases in life and always look for exciting new challenges and growth opportunities. Yes. Thank you for that insight, Brad. And this mature self-aware evolved high minded perspective combined with getting my butt kicked routinely in the last two years on the circuit inspired me to put my ego in my passport in a drawer, get a real freaking job and start raising a family. So speaking of maintaining competitive intensity, my athletic focus went from swim bike, run to dominating little kids in soccer, basketball, and track for a decade that I served as a ridiculously enthusiastic participatory coach, starting with first graders.
Let me tell you, in all honesty, I was the MVP on every single team. Every year in every sport I was unstoppable. Unguardable. Relentless. I was a picture of athletic wonderment for these young kids that couldn’t believe their eyes of the skills and total domination that I exhibited at every single practice. Yeah. Guess what? Uh, by the time my son and his buddies reached high school, I had been very quickly transitioned from MVP to cut and pass and not even a caliber of sitting on the bench. So I was left to clap in the stands. I remember we had these Sunday night open gym basketball pickup games where the high school players would come and I would take my son there. He was just a freshman not driving yet. And, uh, the freshmen players, the JV, the varsity players would all mix in the gym and we’d form these three on three teams and have rotating court battles.
And, Oh my gosh, I would get so psyched and I’d play so hard. And I love playing against these guys. And, uh, then, uh, one night I’m driving home after the fantastic outing in the gym and my son goes, uh, yeah, dad, you know what? I don’t need a ride anymore to a Sunday night. I can get a ride from Josh. And I’m like, Oh no, I don’t mind at all, man. I love how I love going out there and playing it’s it’s fun. This is great. He goes, Oh, well, you know, you don’t have to play anymore either. So that was his nicest way of saying that, um, I really couldn’t guard any of the high school players, their quickness, their size anymore. So there you go. And, uh, parents listening, guess what? This story, this account is just as it should be. Yes.
You want to get in there with the little guys. And I strongly believe in showing them, uh, some competitive intensity and not backing off and being Patsy cakes. So, you know, my son and I would play one-on-one and basketball for years starting when he was whatever 11 and 12, we had a rule that I couldn’t use my height to score easy baskets. Otherwise I would play my hardest. And we played when he was 12 and 13 and 14 and 15. And then I remember he finally beat me and I’m playing, you know, full tilt. Of course, when he was, I don’t know, 15 or 16, and he never asked to play again. He just had to get to that point. And then it was time for dad to step off the train. And we want these parents to know how to step aside and become really good at clapping, supporting and letting your offspring become their own persons, being like the caddy on the golf course, handing the requested club to the player, but not taking the shots for them. Yes, it was again, time to transition for myself and plunge into a different athletic passion than being the MVP of the little kids team.
And that’s when I discovered speed golf, sprinting, and high jump. The theme here is to find endeavors that you love, appreciate the process, even if you suck at first and strive for continued improvement. So over the past five years, it’s been really fun and interesting to strike a balance between being a has been focused on real life responsibilities and somehow keeping the Olympic flame burning. Uh, my pursuit of the Guinness World Record in speed golf was a great example of this. And I did a whole show, uh, talking about that journey and the amazing, insights I learned and the ways I could leverage this pursuit of a peak competitive goal into all other areas of my life. So just briefly, cause I’d love for you to listen to this show.
Um, there was a, uh, an offshoot of the proper sport of speed golf, where we play 18 holes, keeps score and keep our time and add them together. Uh, some guy on YouTube and United Kingdom, Steve Jeff’s put up this viral video. Uh, it was on the Guinness world record site of him playing a single hole and they established a world record for the fastest single hole of golf ever played. Of course it had to be 500 yards in length. So like a par five, you can’t just do it on a, on a short hole. So the standard of 500 yard hole, I watched this guy on the video flying along, carrying his little speed golf bag, hitting his shots really quickly and busting up the record. He got dog piled by his family on the green. It’s one of the greatest videos. It’s so exciting.
You got to look it up and watch it. And uh, I said, you know what? Uh, that’s, that’s pretty cool. And um, I’m such a devoted sprinter and one of the top 20 speed golf players in the world, I’m going to go bust this record up, uh, right away just for the heck of it. So I went out there the next day, uh, waited till dark at the end of my round. Cause you can’t do this while other players are on the course. And I thought, okay, here I go. The record time is one 50 and I did really well. I was running fast, hit some good shots, stop the watch two minutes and 12 seconds, 22 seconds slower than the record. And I was like, wow, Holy crap. That’s no joke there. So the next day I went out and sprinted even faster. Cause I’m frustrated that I’m that far behind. Uh, but of course the shots were pretty sloppy. So I turned into 02:13 and I was like, wow, okay. I am hooked. I am going to go after this. I am getting the competitive intensity riled up.
I discovered Steve’s email, uh, from the speed golf community. And I sent him an email and I’m like, dude, okay, I saw your video. That’s pretty fantastic. Guess what? I went out there and tried it and I was way off, how the heck did you do it? And he wrote a wonderful note back and he says, let me tell you something. I played that hole of golf a thousand times in preparation because I want to know exactly where to hit the ball and exactly how to do everything, to have the easiest putt and I practiced and practiced and practiced before that big day. And this really flipped a switch on me because I realized it was time to get serious and adopt a methodical and strategic approach to a peak performance goal. And here in adult life, that’s really, it really hasn’t been my strength. I’ve already been consumed and been there, done that with the triathlon scene and all that training’s required. And the adult amateur triathletes, we have to squeeze all those different workouts into their busy life already. That really wasn’t for me. And I was just kind of enjoying the folly of pursuing these competitive goals, uh, kind of on whim.
So, you know, when it was soccer season, all of a sudden I’d become a, the star soccer player of the seventh grade team. And then it was track season. I’d go out there and have fun with the high jump, but I wouldn’t be in training or anything formal and serious, but this goal warranted it, which was really nice, especially because getting involved with these folks at Guinness is ridiculously painstaking and precise. And you have to submit all this information and the formal application takes 12 weeks to get approved. And then they send you an email back like, okay, thumbs up, go for it, try to break the record. And here are the guidelines that you have to have, uh, you need, uh, uh, like 10 people ,seriously, for an official record attempt. You need two official timers. You need a video person, you need a photographer. you need two official witnesses with previous golf expertise to verify the attempt was legit and sign a sworn statement accordingly. And you need to quote independent observers who I hadn’t met prior because I didn’t want them to have a vested interest in my success. Oh my gosh, all the rigmarole. But all that time going through the application process was really fun because it got me focused and inspired. And one of the main things I tried to do to innovate, to try to break this record was instead of carrying a bag like the previous record holder, I made myself learn how to hit every shot with just one club, a three-wood. So I would practice chipping and putting every day with a three wood and learning these new skills that, uh, you know, took me away from the tradition of, of real golf and using the putter.
But it was this nice little journey in my life where I’d have a practice session in the evening at the golf course where it was time to get focused and serious and try to sink those putts with the crazy club. So one record day came and I got that same sensation, those butterflies in the stomach that a real athlete gets that I hadn’t really felt for 20 plus years since I left the pro circuit. Right? Because all these people are counting on you. You got kind of a scene at the golf course, right? There’s 10 people milling around getting into golf courts and going to this one hole and I’m jogging out there, uh, you know, doing my strides and looking like I don’t belong on the golf course. Uh, I was feeling the pressure cause, uh, Maria and Shawn, my, my sister, and brother-in-law drove three hours to come support me.
So I’m like, I gotta bring my A game here, man. I hired a drone guy, a drone operator to get some cool footage from above. And the other thing about this, uh, single hole world record is it’s pretty much of a do or die because you’re allowed multiple attempts, right. But if I’m sprinting 500 yards as fast as I can, every successive attempt from the first one, I’m going to be a lot slower. And I learned that the first time I broke the record because I kind of had a better effort the second time through. Uh, but it was because I was so much slower running. So I broke the record in Sacramento. Is a wonderful, uh, occasion sharing it with friends and family. And then I decided, Hey, why not go for it again? So I teed it up again in Los Angeles a month later. Broke the record again and had the absolute miracle performance that I described on the podcast because I made a birdie four basically hitting four perfect shots with the three-word, including a difficult chip and sinking the putt.
I mean, I don’t make that many birdies on a regular golf round, but I made it while I was sprinting. Absolutely full speed on the very first try. It’s something I couldn’t duplicate if I tried it a hundred times and one of the great athletic memories of my life and the cool thing is obviously this was just for fun and games and there’s Guinness World Records for eating the most peanut butter sandwiches upside down and all the rest of that nonsense. Uh, so you can’t really compare it to a winning a big race on the professional circuit, winning the Coke Grand Prix and getting money to put a down payment on a house and all those high stakes things. However, because of my mindset, it meant just as much to me, uh, in that context as doing what I was doing as an athlete and getting on ESPN and all that fun stuff. And same with high jumping. Now I’m practicing most often in a completely empty high school athletic field. But when I clear that bar and set a new best for the, for the year or the season, um, I’m screaming with delight like I’m in the Olympic stadium jumping for a medal. And if you look at My YouTube high jump instruction video at the end, uh, I show up of my clearing my best height. And I’m screaming with delight while I’m still in the air.
Ah, yes. Yeah. Now I want to make an important clarification about the, uh, the Guinness record pursuit, uh, because you can watch me on YouTube breaking the record. It’s a fun video. My buddies, my family are all there. I’m getting interviewed, having fun with it. Uh, but it’s not really just for fun. Even though there’s no economic consequences or life or death circumstances, uh, you know, fun is one thing. And every minute of this process was certainly fun and rewarding, but the pursuit was more than just for fun. It was for personal growth and a catalyst to leverage the focus, discipline and risk taking required in athletics, into all other areas of life, the greatest happiness and fulfillment in life. Come when you cultivate and express passion, curiosity, enthusiasm, and pursuit of the highest expression of your talents without compromise or excuses. The trick is to keep things in perspective…to get over yourself such that you cultivate pure motivation for your peak performance goals. And that means a deep appreciation for the process and releasing your attachment of self esteem to the outcome.
Next section is, Is “Toe the Line”. Watch out, people, because a highly disturbing alternative option Is trying to lure you in these days. That is to indulge in the many luxuries, conveniences and nonstop entertainment opportunities that the high tech modern world offers to become today. A professional spectator, yes, you can get some deserve it. Instant gratification, stress release, and entertainment value from watching the NFL red zone on Sunday or tracking your bets every single day during March madness. But you are going to slowly and imperceptibly lose your edge and extinguish your competitive spirit over time. In the process, you will track toward the epic Teddy Roosevelt quote about the poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in a gray Twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. Essentially my mission is to help you wake up, light up and get the juices flowing again, say what you want to say about my rambling accounts of my speed golf world record, or this meet Brad story or the details of my high jump exploits that I’ll put on Instagram or whatever, but I’m here to be myself, share my enthusiastic message and make a positive impact on your life.
I want to be a leader in the battle against the aforementioned health destructive influences of the soft and easy life, including the ridiculous marketing hype, flawed science, propaganda, and misinformation shoved down your throat in the health diet and fitness scene. Here’s some important things that I want you to get about my approach. I’m promoting peak performance and competitive intensity, but not in the typically flawed way that we’ve been socialized into. With big money, modern sports, the popularity, race of social media, the college admission bribing parenting trend. We’ve forgotten about the pure joy of the journey, towing the line, giving your very best effort and achieving the unsurpassed self satisfaction that a healthy competitive disposition allows. Hey, that sounds like my former basketball coach, John Wooden’s pyramid of success. Uh, yeah, I was a camper at his summer camp. Does that count for him being my former coach?
I think so. Unfortunately, the evolved ideals and character values communicated by Bannister and Wooden have been pretty much dis these days in 280 characters or whatever. Instead, we proceed with a win at all costs mentality and an attachment of self esteem to results. Remember, coach Wooden said, quote, worrying about the scoreboard is a big mistake. Focus on the perfect execution of every possession.” A long since forgotten even by college basketball coaches, you know, the people who should honor him more than anyone forget about the business world and all the other nonsense that’s going on. Today’s scoreboard suggests that happiness is actually accessed with a Beamer, a kid on the all star team or the honor roll or through Amazon prime. Well, Amazon Prime does make me pretty happy. So let me take that one back and it’s better than facing the glitz in the marketing marketing propaganda at the shopping mall, right?
At least you get to be in control of your purchases rather than lured in because you’re tired and hungry and there’s a sale sign and some eager smiling sales person beckoning you to come in and get happy by buying the stuff in their store. Oh my gosh, that happened to me one time in a shopping mall, you know, those kiosks in the middle where they’re, uh, doing the makeup samples and the people are standing there really friendly trying to get people to stop by and check things out. And so I was walking by a person on a purpose in some shopping mall many years ago, actually, not that many, let’s say 10 years ago. And, um, there’s this, uh, nice looking, uh, young lady, uh, you know, the front person for the operation. And she locks in and makes eye contact with me. And as I’m walking toward and, uh, pass the thing and she, uh, she won’t, she won’t break. And so I smile back, try to be polite. And then she like, uh, does the beckoning sound with your hand? Like, Hey, you, you come over here. I’m like me? Okay. So I go over, there I go, hi, there, what’s up. She goes, hello. You know, what’s your name? And she says, I have something that can fix your wrinkles. Oh my gosh. And I thought I was special and she was just picking me out cause whatever. Okay. Uh, I, I turned her down actually. I said, I’m good with my wrinkles right now, but I’ll, I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you for the, uh, the flattering, I guess, uh, solicitation. Okay. Back to the story.
So what’s the problem with obsessing on the trappings of success? Well, when we succeed with tangible goals, we create outsized egos. When we don’t bring home the gold or the silver or the bronze, it’s easy to get discouraged, disenchanted, and negative. In Mark Manson, my former podcast guest. Wonderful show, please listen to him and read his bestselling books, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and his sequel Everything is F*cked: A book about hope. He does a great job calling out how ridiculous our cultural programming is. There’s some great quotes that really get you thinking. I know you need the context to fully appreciate it, but let me hit you with some cause it’s pretty eye opening.
Mark Manson says, quote, “identity doesn’t exist. It’s arbitrary. It’s a facade. Set a goal of maintaining an identity that is defined by as little as possible. Instead see your life as a series of decisions and actions, nothing more.” And then another quote, “self worth is an illusion and actually a form of persistent low level narcissism.” Whoa, What are you talking about? A healthy self worth is important. That’s one of my main goals for my children when I’m raising them. You know what? This insight hit me hard because that’s what get over yourself is after all, it’s transitioning from the obsession with self worth, self esteem, and instead seeing your life as a, just a series of decisions and actions, you ain’t hot shit, but you got to do the best you can and, you know, deliver peak performance effort for the sake of doing it.
So be present, focus on the process, get out of that FOMO mindset that my former podcast guests, Dr. Ron Sinha on his show identified as an actual disease state with harmful metabolic consequences, FOMO leads to higher stress hormones, high blood pressure suppressed immune function, all due to rat race influences. Ashley Merryman. My former podcast guest bestselling author also weighs in here talking about the, uh, the self esteem movement that started in the seventies as highly problematic, in many ways. Uh, her book Nurtureshock written with PO Bronson, talking about parenting as the main topic offers up a harsh criticism of today’s. Everyone gets a trophy ideology because it takes the emphasis off of what gives us humans the most happiness and contentment in life. And that is in Ashley’s words, making an effort toward improvement, not just making the effort she clarified that. Now it’s a little more nuanced than just going out there and making an effort every day.
That’s wonderful focusing on the effort rather than the end result, but we also want that effort to lead toward improvement. So we’re not making an effort banging our head against the wall. Furthering this thought further insights you can find on my breather show, where I talked about Dr. Robert Lustig’s book, The Hacking of the American Mind. And Lustig makes a case that today modern profit seeking corporate entities are hijacking the human dopamine pathways to make us addicts to instant gratification pleasures at the expense of a happy, fulfilling life, because a happy, meaningful, fulfilling life comes from struggling with longterm challenges, persevering through difficulty finding pursuits that have deep meaning to you. And these are associated with the hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and oxytocin. Those are things that make you feel connected, bonded content, as opposed to instant gratification, that dopamine bursts that we’re so familiar with.
So you have reward and you have contentment. So the instant reward, dopamine pathway, contentment, the serotonin pathway, and Lustig says that all these modern vices attack, the same hormonal response in the brain, such that we become flooded with dopamine. We become addicts to instant gratification at the expense of that longterm, happiness and contentment. And you’re familiar with the, the modern vices must have, uh, talks about sugar because that’s his main life’s work as the crusade against sugar and how that gives us the dopamine hit at the expense of, uh, being able to adhere to healthy dietary habits. We have digital technology and hyper-connectivity and social media, especially because it offers intermittent variable rewards. I have a couple of shows on tech addiction and how compelling it is to pick up the phone and find a new dopamine trigger every single time. All the street drugs and the prescription drugs often can fall into this category of being a pleasure sensations, you know, instant gratification at the expense of longterm health.
And of course, uh, the last two are particularly problematic. Uh, John Gray talks about this too, as well as less TIG. And those would be, uh, video games and porn addiction. These two largely being the domains of the young male. Uh, they represent the males primary biological drives, which are to pursuit challenges, solve problems, master one’s environment, uh, often in the quest for the deep biological drive, uh, for sexual gratification. So now you can get both of these on the screen, such that the male is no longer incentivized to engage in real life challenges. Why hassle with a high maintenance girlfriend or an actual job when you can go and conquer in the video game in a nice controlled environment that gives you that amazing instant gratification payoff? Ah, I’d like to share these, uh, Mark Manson quotes with my kids because it serves as a counter to a society where a space, especially for young people that are forming their self identity and going through the, the basics of getting an education and pursuing a career, they get brainwashed into attaching self esteem to result.
And it’s all our fault. Everyone’s surrounding them even well meaning family members. When you introduce your kid at the family picnic and it’s, Oh, uh, this is my son. He’s a basketball player. And here’s my daughter. She’s a saxophone player. Like how could you not attach yourself identity to that when you’re paraded around as like a show pony. That’s why in the great article, the The Inverse Power of Praise. I did a whole show on it. They make a compelling suggestion in the article that may be, instead of saying, I’m proud of you for graduating high school, or I’m proud of you for scoring the winning basket that you rephrase that to favor saying you should be proud of yourself for what you accomplished, or at the very least don’t attach this parental pride to accomplishments. You can say I’m proud of the young man that you’ve grown up to be or something like that, proud of your character, uh, but let them own their own performances and successes rather than, uh, being a show pony. Uh, so I had to learn the hard way as a young athlete. That attachment is not a path to happiness, not just in competitive athletics, but also with parenting career goals, financial security aspirations, or even healthy relationship dynamics. And while people can often achieve superficial material success with a flawed mindset, it’s also likely to come with a sense of emptiness and negative energy in general. Look no further the prominent athletes and celebrities with tremendous material success, but live in train wreck lives.
Last section is titled “Getting Over Ourselves” The sweet spot is to cultivate the beautiful passion, curiosity and competitive intensity that makes us human, but also release the attachment of your self esteem to the outcome. This aligns with Ashley Merryman’s giving effort toward improvement. Mark, Manson’s seeing your life as a series of decisions and actions. And on that note, Manson elaborates to say that happiness can be accessed by improving self discipline, because that gives you freedom.
Hey, Jocko, says the same thing. Discipline equals freedom. Okay. So you know what? My MOFO partner, Brian “Liver King” Johnson of Ancestral Supplement says, he says, do something that scares the shit out of you every day. It’s time to destroy and reframe your self-,limiting beliefs and behavior patterns, and take some radical action to make today a special day and a catalyst for change. Of course, physical pursuits are a great vehicle because today we operate so much from our heads interacting with machines, too much sedentary patterns and stillness. So getting out there and doing something like a physical challenge is wonderful, but you can also model this evolved competitive spirit as an artist or as a musician. Just realize that our genes crave frequent everyday movement, as well as brief explosive efforts to be truly healthy, happy, and fit. And finally, because modern life is so stressful and serious and because posers and manipulative marketing forces and general insincerity lurk around every corner, my message is wrapped and air brushed in humor, irreverence in general goofiness, whenever possible, whenever the circumstances and opportunities are appropriate, such as adding a spicy accent to an otherwise normal reading.
As an athlete, husband, parent, content creator, and peak performance motivator. This allows me to bring the most honesty, authenticity, vulnerability sensitivity. Do we have some other buzzwords? Have a little sensitivity? Do me, baby. I want to get rubbed the right way. So what you got to say, Oh no, she’s a candy girl living in a half crazy world. That’s the way I livein’, girl. So every little step I take is another ending heartbreak. My mind, my, that song’s word to the mother by bill bib, Devoe, and back to the show.
Thank you so much for listening to my story. I hope you enjoy many other podcast episodes and the fun and games offered at bradkearns.com. Videos, books, and cool products that I believe in and use every single day. And finally, I want this to be a community experience where you can offer up questions, comments, suggestions, critique on my accent and my rapping. All manner of feedback. We appreciate about the show that our whole team will listen to and deeply appreciate. So please email any time. Anytime you got something on your mind, email@example.com. Go ahead and do it. After every show, you can become a remote executive producer. Why not? And that is the Meet Brad show.
Thank you so much. Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews, and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars. And it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to thanks for doing it.