17 Feb, 2021

096 Life Lessons from World Champions of Sport

As we celebrate our 5th year in Podcast, please join us in this special episode called “Life Lessons from World Champions of Sports”.

Today we’re going to have the opportunity to listen to some incredible people like Ronnie O’Sullivan, Derek Redmond, Audley Harrison, Steve Smith, Sally Gunnell, Karen Darke, Mark Foster, Anna Hemmings and Naomi Richie. These people have taken what they do to the highest level and I believe every single one of us can do that.

These people have got stories to tell. These people are once were everyday people but now they’ve gone to a place where maybe they’re internationally recognized and their whole lives have changed. There is absolutely no question that what they have done, we can also do.

I really encourage you to really pay close attention to what you hear you might want to take some notes as you hear this because success always leaves clues.

My goal is from you listening to this podcast is that you start to see how you can start to win in whatever it is that you choose to go after; the areas that most people want to win in.

What is your biggest takeaway?

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About Pete Cohen:

Pete Cohen is one of the world’s leading life coaches and keynote speakers. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have been motivated and inspired by Pete’s presentations. He has professionally impacted the lives of thousands of people worldwide, including business executives, professional athletes, and everyday people.  Pete focuses on the importance of closing the gap in our lives between where we are and where we want to be, both personally and professionally. 

It’s then all about coaching you to remove the obstacles that are in your way and helping you install the habits of success.  

Pete is the author of 19 published books, several of which have been best-sellers across the world, including Shut the Duck Up, Habit Busting, Life DIY, and Sort Your Life Out. He has also presented his own show on TV called The Coach and was the resident Life Coach on GMTV for 12 years. His new book Inspirators – Leading The Way In Leadership is available for free here –



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Pete Cohen  0:01

Happy beautiful day. It's the Mi365 podcasts. It's me, Pete Cohen. And today we have got an incredible guest. If you want to find your inner gold, you want to check out this podcast with the awesome Karen Darke. Who is Karen Darke? I reckon she's one of the most incredible human beings I have ever met in my entire life. Not only is she an Olympic gold medalist, but she's someone who represents everything to me about possibility and finding your inner gold. I'll see you with Karen, after the theme tune.

Pete Cohen  1:00

So it's another podcast and my guest today is one of the most inspirational people I've ever come across. It is Karen Darke. Karen, how are you?

Karen Darke  1:12

Hi, Pete, it was very lovely introduction for you give me. Thank you.

Pete Cohen  1:16

Well, it's true. You know, you definitely had a big impact. I can remember when I met you. And when we were in Abu Dhabi. I heard you talk and your story just literally just blew me away. And, you know, I know we've known each other ever since then. And I've seen your journey. We've talked, we've worked together. And for those of us that, that don't know who you are, just tell us who you are what you do anything that you want to tell our listeners.

Karen Darke  1:45

I think I'm trying to figure that out every day, to be honest. I'm not sure I found the answers yet. But I suppose yeah, in summary, I love to explore the world both externally. So to take adventures and journeys in unusual places, especially into mountains and other cultures. And at the same time, I'd love to explore inside and kind of that journey that we all go on through life of challenges of highs and lows and how we grow and develop as people through that. And then part of my external journey has been 10 years as a Paralympic athlete. And when I was 21, I felt a cliff and broke my back and became paralyzed. So yeah, my whole life actually seems to have been connected in a strange way to gold. I was earlier in life A geologists that I was studying gold as part of my geology work. And interestingly, I never saw gold. All the gold that I was looking for was like invisible, which is quite a nice analogy to to maybe how life sometimes feels when I start talking about the inner gold that we all have inside us. And sometimes in the mud and grime of daily life, because it gets tough sometimes, you know, we lose sight of that. So yeah, that's my my summary journey, I suppose.

Karen Darke  2:56

But it's very kind of, you know, a quick overview because your life is. You know, what's interesting for me about you is like, what you've done isn't really what defines you, I just get the impression that what's defining you is what you're going to do next. And that's one of the things I just love about you, as a human being is like, you know, what, where are we going now? It's like, whereas a lot of people that perhaps have been through similar experience to you, they just wouldn't they just, they wouldn't make those life choices. And, you know, when.

Karen Darke  3:25

One of the the things that I've perhaps realized through speaking work, actually is the people, if I'm bored telling the story, that means if I've told it 1000 times, then I'm not going to be inspiring anyone, I'm not going to be energizing anyone. So I suppose I'm constantly looking for, how's that story growing and developing so that I can stay interested, I don't want to spend my life speaking to people about the same old same old so you know, yeah. Discovering?

Pete Cohen  3:51

Well, it's interesting, because a lot of people do that, you know, when you get together with your friends, you tend to talk about what you did, as opposed to what you're going to do. And I mean, it'd be great. I mean, I want to talk about that inner gold going inside, you know, the inner goal that that exists. In every single one of us, it does seem to take a disaster or crisis or diagnosis or prognosis for people to often behave in a way that they wouldn't normally behave. But let's talk about the Olympics, first of all in London, because obviously, one of the stories that you're famous for is crossing the line holding the hand of the person who was you both realized that you were third and fourth, and you held hands and you cross the line together? Just tell us a little bit about that. Because that That, to me was a crazy story. But yeah, tell us for those of you that don't know.

Karen Darke  4:36

Interesting the response I got. It seems like people think it's crazy to me in that moment. It was the most I didn't even require any for I was racing unexpectedly, really beyond expectation. I found myself and my teammate, kind of neck and neck between third and fourth positions, and we didn't expect to be in a place where either of us was going to win a medal in that particular race. So it was a shock and an exciting. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to try and share that together because we traveled quite a journey to get there. And, you know, for different reasons, it had been quite a challenging journey for each of us. So I think it was just an impulsive thing of going, Wow, oh, my goodness, look, let's just grab each other's hands and cross the finish line together. And then apparently, that's not what you're supposed to do at Olympic games that upset a lot of people. And even our digital times were identical so that the judges really didn't know what to do. And I think they looked at a photo and decided that maybe Rachel's wheel was just a millimeter ahead of mine or something and gave her the medal but invited me onto the podium to share in the experience.

Pete Cohen  5:43

And did you not feel like injustice? The fact that you've been training for all of this time? I mean, let's face it, a lot of the idea of winning a medal must have been, you know, something you wanted, but then to be so you're not gonna have it because they gave you a token gesture, then they said, Well, you can sit there, but you can't have a medal. That was that was ridiculous. Yeah,

Karen Darke  6:04

I was allowed on the podium, but I couldn't Yeah, there was no medal. And, you know, the truth is, I didn't feel that until I started receiving everyone else's responses to what happened. So I actually won a medal the previous day in the title file. And so I was like, I still just writing a high of that. And Rachel hadn't won a medal in her previous race. And I don't know, I it didn't seem it didn't bother me at all. It's like the most incredible, wonderful, amazing euphoric experience to be there together. Until afterwards, I realized that quite a few people have to I don't like to be sexist, but they were mainly men. Were having a reaction like, why did you do that? That could have been yours. You gave that away? You should have you know, really angry and and the team psychologists follow me around expecting me to break down or something, and nothing their reactions made me then question, did I do the right thing, but I know, you know, it was everything. It was just I suppose, me and what felt right. And my values all line up with that decision. So well, that's still happy by that we did what we did.

Karen Darke  7:15

I just thought it was amazing the bureaucracy of sport is. Well, I'm not even gonna go down that road. But I've got some very strong opinions about it. But I just did my if I just like, let's just get on with it, you know, many one silver the next day, and then, you know, then wanting to obviously go to Rio. And I know you did a lot of work. Tell us a little bit about the whole Rio experience. And how was that for you? And what happened?

Karen Darke  7:38

I hadn't really thought of going to another Paralympic Games. So for me going to London was just the excitement of while there's an Olympics in my own country, how incredible would that be? It was just this whole new novelty. And I was learning everything I've never, I didn't know how to train properly. I've never owned a heartrate monitor I just wrote for fun. And then suddenly winning the silver medal in London, I was faced with Wow, well, actually, there's an opportunity to have some funding from UK sport, from the National Lottery to carry on and train and I love riding my bike. So it felt like an enormous privilege to get to do something that I love to do. And I took that decision. Well, let's do it. And I suppose the other thing I'm fascinated by is optimizing potential, and how do we get to be the best of ourselves.

Karen Darke  8:27

And I've always been a person who's quite diverse in my skills and interests, but I've never ever really focused on something before. And thought this could be a really interesting experiment, just to really put that focus in Yeah, and see, is it possible to get to be really exceptional at something. So a whole journey between London and Meo was really about, you know, when you really put your energy and your effort onto into something specific and focus that there, what is possible, and I won the Golden Ratio and discovered that, yeah, a lot is possible, because I am not the person that ever wins races like honestly, I've come last in races where there's no finish line anymore. I've been lapped multiple times by previous Olympic champions. So actually to bridge that gap from being that person who really didn't see themselves as an athlete, and really had come last so many times to suddenly be the gold medal winner was a really incredible journey. And I based that journey entirely on on focus on effort, and on the team and the support and the enthusiasm of the people that I was lucky to have close to me because yeah, none of it came from natural talent.

Pete Cohen  9:42

Well, you know, talent will only get you so far. But I have to tell you, I just that was a major epiphany, even though it's fairly obvious. It's like, well, what could you do if you really put your focus of attention onto something and that that, that was a big wake up call for me there and I'm going to use that. I must also just tell you that my podcast is five years old, and we've got a series of podcasts coming out. And one of them is their sporting athletes, Olympians and world champions that I know and some of them I've worked with. And you're one of those people so I'm very excited you Sally Gunnell, Nomi Ritchie's. Who else? Ronnie O'Sullivan? Sally. I said, say, Sally, who else has a Mark Foster the swimmer. And I'm so excited to have you in amongst those people. Because, for me, you just represent everything about being a champion of life. You know, obviously,

Karen Darke  10:37

Very complimentary. Thank you.

Karen Darke  10:39

It's true. It's true. And, you know, like I say, I said this, because what was interesting was, I think, last week, you know, I did a podcast with a young lady who had a car accident and in America. And basically, she was written off that she told me that they left her open her body open, where they were operating, because they thought she'd be dead in the morning. And she wasn't. And you were someone who spoke to her. You went to the hospital, we were also where you were in America, I believe, right? Or somewhere in the UK? A hospital,

Karen Darke  11:11

I think.Yeah.

Karen Darke  11:13

And you spoke and you lit a fire in her, her in a gold. And now she's competed at the highest level, I think she's got a bronze or silver medal in basketball, and she's continuing. And it was brilliant. Because when your name came out, you know, I sent you that picture. And you sent her a message, I sent her the message, and we can kind of all help and inspire.

Karen Darke  11:34

But yeah, I mean, that's it. That's what I love about the world. Like we, we have a knock on effect, we have that ripple effect on each other. And that's the way we change each other and support each other and help each other on this journey. We're all on different journeys. And we all have the highs and lows. And without that fire of inspiration that we get from each other, then yeah, that's that's the fuel I think,

Karen Darke  11:59

Well, I remember, you know, talking to you. And we did a couple of sessions together. And that whole thing of gold came up and I just come out of a conversation. And then you really went to town on almost meditating on gold. I remember, we talked about this, and then you started literally, focusing on gold. And

Karen Darke  12:17

I had bought I bought gold shoes, I had a gold phone cover, I just filled my life with gold. And I don't even really like the color of gold. Particularly, but it's um, yeah, I think I think when we just focus that much we can, you know, create things unexpected possibilities in our life, when we when we put all our energy into believing that it might just be possible.

Pete Cohen  12:38

So of all the things I know about you, you know, the story of how you broke your back. And when I heard you tell that story, I mean, that is that was something that just really stayed with me in terms of when you went to climb at Yosemite. And you had that experience where you almost gave up. And I think you told me that you literally after thinking about that I'm not doing this, and which would be great to hear this from your point of view. Because people who don't know this story, but it was that point where you thought, huh? No.

Karen Darke  13:13

I'll leave it. I can't

Karen Darke  13:16

Tell us. Tell us about what happened. And you know anything about that that story because it really is incredible.

Unknown Speaker  13:22

So I broke my back in a rock climbing accident in Scotland. And about 15 years later, I was invited to go and try and claim El Capitan, which is a 70 National Parka. Huge, overhanging rock face most recently famous for free solo has it or forgotten the guy's name now a guy just basic, free without a rope? Yeah. So I'm basically a kilometer by rock face mostly overhanging. And I guess I did have that scared, excited thing. It's like, wow, that I'm really petrified of going climbing again, but at the same time, how amazing that place is amazing. Like, wouldn't it be special to be up there. So I told my mom and dad, I was going on a beach holiday to California. And I think that was a representation not of my propensity to lie. But just because I think I was in denial that we might do it because my fear was so great. And my doubts was so great. So think climbing that, for me was a massive, massive experience in facing fear. Like straight in the street. In the eyes I was petrified. I had all the physical responses of fear. I was shaking, sweating, and heart racing. And it takes about a week to climb the mountain. Well, it can take anything from hours to a week, but most people take you sleep, basically is what I'm saying. It's a multiple day thing.

Karen Darke  14:48

So you're carrying everything with you and you tied to the rock face at all times. And it was there on that rock face that I realized that you know, classic but our thoughts can strollers, we can control them. And I just had to bring it all right there and then into a very, very full on experience to switch my mind my thoughts my focus my attention to affects everything else feeling so that it could actually be calm enough to carry out what I needed to carry out to climb the rock face. So it was just an enormous lesson in the ability we have to take control over our own mind and emotions so that we can do what we need to do rather than letting them control us a lot.

Pete Cohen  15:29

You gave it your all, didn't you and just explain it got to a point.

Karen Darke  15:33

Yeah, so we've been we began and the fear was high for me, but and we were all kind of just, we were playing that game where you you know you no one wants to say this isn't really working out. We need to go down and reset and, you know, redesign things here, but we were like, Oh, no, I'm doing Okay, thanks. That kind of nice scene. I know, we're fine. And we weren't, we're basically all struggling a bit we moving too slowly, we probably were going to run out of water if we carried on and then we dropped some food off the rock face. And that meant that we had no food for the rest of the week. So we have no option but to upscale and come back down. And at that point, I was ready to run. That was that was you know, fight or flight that was me in full flight. Thank goodness relief washed over me and I was ready to go on that beach.

Karen Darke  16:17

I know. I know that. I know that feeling. I mean many people know that feeling. I've had it actually abseiling. You know, when you get to the bottom, and you just think right that's it? I'm so glad that's over. Which you must have felt like that's it. No more not doing that again. So what happened? You sat down? Are you having a cup of coffee in a pizza when you're in a pizzeria or something else.

Karen Darke  16:40

Went out for dinner pizzeria, I found myself really, really shedding some tears, and kind of sat with it. And my my partner was like, No, come on, we'll just we'll just leave, that's fine. We tried didn't work. And I was okay. Actually, no, that's not what it is. I need to I need to turn this around. And I suppose it was instead of going for 20 years of psychotherapy all happen there on the rock face or something, it was really about facing some of those demons, some of that stuff that was locked in my subconscious mind memories and trauma that I was probably, you know, obviously tackling in a following way by putting myself straight back into that kind of environment. But I did it, you know, we weren't, we didn't go back and we plan slightly better. And we did climate and we did finish it successfully. And it was a it wasn't isn't will be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. And to have faced all of that and to turn things around.

Karen Darke  17:31

But also, you know, to realize that, we can also use our negative thoughts to help us I call it the power of negativity. But sometimes those fears and those concerns instead of sweeping them under the carpet, like you might just shove a, you know, some dust into the corner, we need to look at it, like get it out there and go, hey, what am I really scared of? And what can I do about that. And so as an example, I was tied to always to two ropes mostly to three ropes, because that alleviated this fear that my life was hanging on one rope, and maybe the rope would break. And I think sometimes those negative thoughts, the fears that we have, we can actually use them to really help us do something in a way that safer, better than we might ever have tackled it otherwise. So yeah.

Karen Darke  18:20

I mean, what was it like when you finally got to the to the top.

Karen Darke  18:25

And it was dark, it was snowing. I remember feeling very relieved, slept at the top for the night. And then it was the it It probably anyone who climbed the mountains understands this feeling because it doesn't come with total euphoria when you get to the top because you still have to get back down again. Yeah, in a way, you're only halfway there. And we did have to get back down again. And it's not quite as straightforward as that when you can't walk for most people, it's about two hours scramble down the side of the mountain to get back to the valley. But for us, it was another very, very, very long day involving piggybacks and app sales and a huge amount of challenge for the for the team. So yeah, I think the relief came when the whole journey was over.

Karen Darke  19:06

So you know, there's a gene, which has been our two genes, which have been identified with driven people, right. And I think I've got it, but I don't know. And I don't really care, because I don't think it's that important. I think what's so fascinating about human beings is that we do get to see a great side of people in disasters. But I think we get to see even even a better side of people where we're driven to do something that's in front of us. And you know what, what I love about your story is not the gold medal. I mean, it's great, and I'm so glad that you did that for you, but also for so many other people that you must have inspired. But it's that point of giving up a wanting to give up, and then not that there's something because I think that's in everybody I might be wrong.

Pete Cohen  19:49

And as you said, I just was reminded of the story in Thinking Grow Rich have three feet from gold. Which is the story of this guy who they prospected they found some gold that they've got quite a bit, and then it started to run out. And eventually they gave up. And he sold the equipment to someone, and the person who bought the equipment just so I'll maybe I'll just go back, he got a gold expert to come and said, Oh, what you need to know about gold sometimes is that there can be a shift like just a few feet, and three feet from where they stopped was the biggest discovery of gold they'd ever found. And it's, and what's really interesting about the story is the guy who sold the equipment, he wasn't that disappointed, or he used his disappointment, actually, to build something else. And he became a very, very successful insurance, sales and became a millionaire just from doing that. And it's like, what hurts, I think can instruct human beings. And I just think that that's one of the things I just love about human beings. And I know that's what you're really passionate about now, right? Because you're really passionate about helping people find their inner goal. Right. So what does that mean? And tell us? Yeah, what is what is it that you're excited about right now?

Karen Darke  20:58

Yeah. So I suppose to my own journey of challenges and overcoming them, and knowing that feeling of wanting to give up and then not giving up and, you know, how do you feel if you give up, then what then what you're left with, and usually, it's not going to be as good as if you pick yourself up and carry on. So I've traveled to begin in a journey, like, like many of us have, and I think, you know, there's so much in the struggles of life and what they can teach us. And that's concept of post traumatic growth, the amazing human growth that we get through going through the tough stuff. And I'm sure it's been done before.

Karen Darke  21:35

But I like to think about it like the weather, you know, my brother lived in Australia for 17 years. And when it's blue skies every day, you kind of get bored of the blue sky every day, like, hey, wouldn't it be good to have a storm. So I'm not saying that we really want those storms. But we need that we need that contrast to really keep growing and, and learning as people. So yeah, and I think through those journeys, when it gets tough, and we and we keep going, we find those strengths inside of ourselves, I guess. That's what I really call it in a gold. The stuff that when it's all blue skies, we forget, we've really got so the number of people that say to me, oh, I could never do what you've done, I could never have, I don't know, I can't, in my own words, like before I was paralyzed, I'd rather be dead than paralyzed.

Karen Darke  22:17

Imagine anything worse, none of us really can connect with the incredible powers that we've got within us. When we're just on the walk in the park bits of life, we need that sort of struggle in a way to really discover the strengths and the gifts that we have. And then, and it's not like we ever been arrived at some place where we've suddenly got all of this wonderful in a gold and everything's rosy like it never stops. It never ends. But I think that is the gift and the excitement of life is an exploration. And if we're just open Yeah, thing going on that journey and exploring and being kind to ourselves, and you know, resting up when we need to, and then being okay. Now there's another Hill, come on, let's get up this hill and wonder what's on the other side of it. So I suppose my connection with the natural environment and adventures and journeys through through wilderness is a great analogy again, for that journey through life.

Karen Darke  23:12

I think that we're all we're all explorers, really. And we'd love to explore. I mean, I don't know if many children wouldn't like to have explored, you give them something to play it exploration, I just think we're all kind of conditioned to turn that part of us off. And you give a really great perspective, a different perspective for me, because it's hard to explain to people sometimes look, human beings are designed to grow were designed to evolve. That's the only reason we're here because that's what's happened. If you allow yourself to do that, then you can experience great highs, also great lows, but like you said, with the weather, you know, if you didn't have horrible weather, like it's horrible here at the moment, but you know what, when it's sunny, I'm going to appreciate it so much more.

Karen Darke  23:56

it's very interesting. It's as if there's some kind of weird thing, what's gone wrong with our programming that we think we're here to get comfortable. And, you know, go and have nice times all the time. And like whoever said, that was what the script is all about to me. Yeah, we kind of feel like that's what the script should be. And so we're constantly looking at how things are all wrong? Or is actually you just flip the script and go, No, this is like some wild, crazy journey that we're on.

Karen Darke  24:22

And we never know what's going to happen next. And what I find exciting, I don't mean to belittle any of the challenges and struggles and difficult things that people are having right now with COVID. Yeah, but in a way, if you flip it up, it's like, Well, look, this is this is how it actually really is, everything is uncertain. Any illusion of certainty that we have is almost in our imagination, like anything could could happen at any time. Our circumstances can completely change at any time. And so what we need to be able to do is to be open to that to have a flexible mindset to, to be willing to look at what we can learn from this. How can this make us stronger and just I call it adopting an adventure mindset. But you know.

Karen Darke  25:05

If you think about through history, our forefathers have all enjoyed crazy things. And I think the difference between then and now is that we've got so much choice. Everything is so comfortable, we don't really have to do anything that you know, when you see the best of a human being, it's because they've done something that was a bit difficult, or maybe that some people said was impossible. I thought I was, you know, I know some of the, you know, you've got some goals coming up yourself.

Pete Cohen  25:31

But I remember reading and learning about Shackleton and I didn't know too much about this guy, I really didn't. But someone gave me a book. And I read about him and I thought this guy's he was a bit crazy for what he did. Because he was advised not to go to the South Pole, but they they went. And they were stuck there for months, and months, and months and months. And this story of how they all said they all survived. Unfortunately, they all survived. And yet, then they came back and many of them went off to go and fight in the First World War, and a number of those people were killed. But what's amazing about the shared experience of and I think, why is it important, do you think if you are going to evolve and do something difficult and challenging that it's a good idea to be around other people that are doing that as well? Because obviously your sport is quite it's an individual sport. But do you get great strength from the people around you who kind of support you on your, your epic quest?

Karen Darke  26:27

Well, maybe maybe not so much within for example, Paralympic sport, I think my strength and, and the stuff that helps keep me going from people around me. Other people that I'm more on a weight, you know that I'm on a wavelength Where's where you do see life as a journey. So it's not when something goes wrong. It's not like, Oh, no, it's a disaster. You kind of okay, this is sorry to hear that this is hard right now. But what you know, what's going to come from this? That could be good. So yeah, people, of course, like, every, every challenge of my life, whether it's been something that's occurred to me, which I hadn't wanted, or expected, perhaps, and, or whether it's something I've chosen to take myself on, has only been richer for being with other people. So yeah, I do spend a lot of time in my sport as a solo cyclist alone. And I spend a lot of life time in life alone, but it's through those connections that we we grow and we support each other. And we get that inspiration and, and we can feel happy that we all you know, we all need to feel like we were loved. And we want to love others as part of human nature. So.

Pete Cohen  27:38

Yeah, I know that the word quest is a big word for you. And I know there's a number that's a big number for you. But I love that word quest, because I remember hearing someone say if you go, if you want to see a happy person, go to their house, and there'll be another project on the go, you know, there'll be something that they do. But when you see people that have got quests, it's something bigger that is calling them, you know, what is your quest? Right now? Tell us about that. And tell us how can we help you with your with your epic quest.

Karen Darke  28:07

I've got I think I've got quite a few quests from a kind of personal level to to some kind of other impact or something I'd like to have on the world. But it's all about this concept of inner gold. And in Rio, I won the 79 medal for Britain, and then remembered because I had been a gold geologist and forgotten that 79 is the atomic number of gold. So I've started a project called Quest 79. And the soul strap line is fine, you're in a gold. And I'm trying to encourage people just to step out of their comfort zone. And to put themselves up for something that is a little bit scary, but kind of a little bit exciting, too. It might be something physical, it might be something mental, it might be something to do with community and connection. I don't know what it could be. But I'm suggesting that's connected to this number 79 because that connects to in a gold.

Karen Darke  28:59

So there's been some fantastic stories happening from a 10 year old boy in Scotland to heard me on the radio and he decided to claim a 79 peaks in 79 weeks and took his whole family and his whole community on a journey with him on that because he didn't even like mountain climbing he just thought well it needs to be something I wouldn't normally do if I'm going to discover something about myself. And that's obviously taken him and all the people around him on a journey and he raised money for a children's charity in Africa as well.

Karen Darke  29:29

And other things that maybe seem more mundane but not you know that all challenges so giving up on addiction for 79 days like Diet Coke, sipping it you know is bad for you. So maybe a kind of getting away from something challenge or it might be a moving towards something challenge. But either way, I think it always anything that mixes up that routine of every day and helps us see new perspectives and just stretches us a little bit is is doing something really good for us. It's keeping as a way from what I would call the negative emotions of life, like stuckness, depression, and just you know, not when nothing's moving, everything's stagnant. That's when the kind of when the dust in the mud sack settles in and doesn't feel so good for people inside.

Karen Darke  30:15

And I think when we're, when we're expanding, learning connecting discovering, then that's when we find that in a golden to do that. We need to just keep stepping a little bit out of that comfort zone and mixing things up. So yeah, basically, I'm calling people to, to take on a Quest 79 and do something for themselves. Whilst people have been doing that, I've been journeying the seven continents cycling, across continents with people who've never done things like that before. So it's been quite an incredible experience. And I'm lucky to have been able to take it so big and travel around the world doing it. But um, yeah, that's my kind of parallel journey whilst I'm, and I run out of energy during those journeys. And so I'm gaining so much inspiration from the people that are sending messages saying that they, they're going to do 79 swims in, you know, in cold water between the winter and the summer solstice, or whatever it might be lots of different things and creativity out there.

Karen Darke  31:14

How do people get involved? And how do they kind of let you know, because I want one of the legacies of this podcast is for people to say, right, I'm in where do they go?

Karen Darke  31:25

So there's a website, and it's called the Pop challenge at the moment, but we might actually be changing it to Find Your Inner Gold. So probably the best thing is just to message me and I can point people in the right direction. So my website's karendarke.com. And yet emails come directly to me. And I can point people in the right direction.

Pete Cohen  31:44

Yeah. So what I'm going to do is I want to put these podcasts out straight after we've got these three anniversary episodes coming out. Because I would imagine we're going to get a lot of people. We've got an anniversary issue on split Sports Champions. And then we've got one with celebrities I've interviewed and then one with entrepreneurs. And then I want this one to come out straight afterwards. Because Yeah, I want people to listen to this. I want people to be inspired.

Karen Darke  32:12

Well, very, we're very, I'm very, very excited today. So just come off the back of a conversation with top Trumps. Do you remember the kids card game course?

Karen Darke  32:19

Of course absolutely.

Karen Darke  32:20

It's brilliant, not just for kids, it's for families. It's fantastic. And then they're making a special edition pack for this journey. So inspirational. inspirational challenges, find joy in a gold request 79, special top Trump's card pack. So we're seeking people right now to come up with extra unique and creative ideas. And there's only a limited number of cards in the pack. So not everyone will be able to be in there. But we're kind of wanting a real diverse range of challenges to really inspire people and families around the world with ideas of how they can challenge themselves in different ways.

Pete Cohen  32:55

I'm going to connect you with Joe Disarmer, who's the founder of Spartan races. So Joe is just unreal.

Karen Darke  33:02

I've read his book.

Pete Cohen  33:03

Right! So I'm definitely going to connect the two of you because you should be on his podcast. And I mean, he would I'm sure. I've been on his podcast twice. He's been on mine once is going to come on it next week. I'm definitely going to connect you guys because

Karen Darke  33:17

I'd love that.

Pete Cohen  33:18

That's what my dad said, right? It's not what you know, is, it's who you know, and Joe is so much around, you know, challenge yourself. I think you just said about discovery, I think the only way you really get to discover, I really believe is the only way you get to discover who you really are is how well you are, how capable you are of dealing with what has happened to you. And how much and things have happened to everyone and how prepared you are to explore and experience that and lose and you know, fall over that that's where you kind of get to know who you really are. And then you get to do something about that, you know, you get to get better.

Karen Darke  33:58

And I think it's important not to be defined by your past and yeah, maybe not. And not to be too attached to the future either. So not to not have dreams that's important, but I constantly have to you know, I have dreams all the time. I don't mean dreams in my sleep. I mean, you know, I'm creating and imagining but some of them will go and some of them won't. And yeah, we have to just live in live live here and now and and and and not get to not be held back by you.

Pete Cohen  34:29

When the other podcast comes out the piece I took from what you said was about the gold isn't it's not it's it's not what it's about. It's about the process. And I like that as well. I like to be future focused, but future focused enough to forget about the focus of the future and let that happen just by the process. In fact, Mark foster who competed in five Olympic Games never won the gold medal. But he did break the world record 11 times when you know multiple world titles He probably never would have done that if he hadn't have set the gold to go gold. You know, I don't think it matters personally, I think that I remember making a TV program was like weeks and weeks it was called the coach. And when we sat down with the director to watch the first episode at the end, he said, What did you think? I said it was alright. But it wasn't as good as what we did. You know, and it was difficult some of the stuff that we did, but it was it's, you know, it's the journey, right? I mean, it sounds like a cliche.

Karen Darke  35:30

Nobody's it's it brings up a really well for me quite an interesting element in my life the last few years, because having one Golden Ratio people that expect you to retire, and especially at my age, whatever that means, well, you know, too old for this now, and you've won the gold, you got what you came to do. And I'm like, What I didn't come to do. I didn't come to win the gold like, yeah, I kind of did. But that's not why I'm here. I'm doing it. Because I love what I do. Yeah. And actually, now I've repaired and give myself some rest and a bit of healing that I needed. After that focus time. I actually still love what I do. And I still love riding my bike. And you know what, I just got a PB of my whole life a few months, late last month. So why why would I not try for another? And they're like, Yeah, but what will you do? If you don't when you're like, Well, yeah, but that's that's not the point. I'm trying to. It's about enjoying what you do. And and if you if you still loving it, and he's still learning and growing in it and don't feel stuck, then hey, doesn't have to stop.

Pete Cohen  36:29

No, well, actually, I learned last year that the word win doesn't mean the destination, it doesn't mean an end point winning, it means striving and struggling. That's what it means. So that, to me is what life is striving and struggling to remember, a guy called Jim Rohn was famously said, someone said, Can you predict the future? It goes, Yeah, opportunity mixed with difficulty. I think that's life. What would you like the legacy of, you know, this, this third podcast that we've done together? What would you like people to do on the back of on the back of it?

Karen Darke  37:03

Well, my passion is really about helping people find more of that in a gold within themselves. And I think we all we all need to connect more and more with that. And whatever that means, whether that's is different for all of us whether we need more confidence, whether we need to feel more strong inner strength, whether we need more peace in ourselves.

Pete Cohen  37:25


Karen Darke  37:26

And for me that at the moment, the inner gold is about balance and peace. That's what I'm seeking more of and striving for more of, but depending where we're at in life. That gold is different, so, and I but I still believe that we find that wherever we're at, and whatever we're doing by, by that, you know, stretching ourselves into new experiences. And so I'm not talking about physical necessarily, it can be anything, but anything that just takes you into a different place gives you a different perspective. And I just think you'll, we discover incredible things when we do that. So if people are up for that, it will be amazing to hear from you, and message me and get involved with a challenge of your own, and would love to share that and inspire other people and have that ripple effect. Because as I know how much just you know, want one story can change a million people's lives. And so we all feel like we're small and insignificant and want, you know, just a drop in the ocean, and how can I change the world. But actually, if you do something, to help yourself, I guarantee that that will be have an effect on helping someone somewhere else. Yeah.

Pete Cohen  38:34

So the last book I wrote was called Inspirators and it's all about people who are inspired to do something that's in front of them, I would love to be a part of what you're doing. So I'll also think of something I can do for 79 days. But I also promise you to get this podcast out there to as many people as I possibly can. But also the people who I coach, you know, I have a couple of coaching groups, I'm going to also throw it out to them that as a community, we all think about something we can do for 79 days.

Karen Darke  38:59

That'll be fantastic. I'll just say doesn't have to be 79 days it could be 79 minutes or something 79 times of something. One of the great stories from a know someone you know Mark Pitcher from Smash the Box. He decided to run his first marathon, but he will only run it after 79 people have donated blood to. Because there was a family member who needed a blood what a unique he will be in the top Trump's pack because that's just such an amazing story. So it doesn't have to be you know, it doesn't have to be something what 79 days of grind, it can be all sorts of

Pete Cohen  39:31

That ripple effect is crazy. Because I met Mark Pitcher through a lady who taught my wife how to cook when my wife had a brain tumor and wasn't given very long to live. Her husband Paul Viner called me up and said, You need to meet this guy, Mark. You know, I met Mark through my meeting mark, he worked with me, he became a coach. He met you from the podcast that I did with you. And look what he's done, and now he's going to be in top Trumps. You know? That Yeah,

Karen Darke  0:07

He doesn't know that yet. Yeah.

Pete Cohen  0:08

Okay. Okay, well, you know, that's what's possible when you're open to the art as possible and that's what you represent to me, you know, Karen. You really are, you know, a champion in every aspect of the world so I want to thank you. Can't wait to.

Karen Darke  0:24

Thank you Pete and, you know, I really want to say as well that sometimes it's easy. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I think. Sometimes it's easy to listen and think that the people on the podcast must be different to you. Or they've got some kind of like massive team behind them or they're famous or something. But, you know, we're all wanting people doing the best that we can. And you're sat in your living room and I'm laid on my sofa and I don't have a team of, I don't have a massive team I don't have a big thing, you know, it's just me and my life navigating through. I think that's just something to remind people that whether whether they have a dream of the Olympics or creating something amazing. It's. It all starts with us.

Pete Cohen  1:01

There's always this, I feel a disconnect and this I want to this by speaking to you I think closes that for people which is when I say to people look I know and I've worked with world and Olympic champions I think a lot of people just go. Alright, what's that got to do with me. And when I hear your stuff I mean, you share your story. And when you hear the story of the other people that I've got, you know people like Sally and Mark you just realize, hang on a second. They're just, they were normal people, they still are, they've just done something pretty that this required a lot of work and effort and failure. And I think we can all be athletes of our life. We need to compete in this world because if you don't compete, then you will stay where you are. If you stay where you are. I think that's where people are open as you said to worry doubt depression, anxiety because we're not we're not allowing ourselves to move forwards. We numb, a part of us that just wants adventure, and maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so. And I'm pretty sure I don't think,

Karen Darke  2:00

I don't think so and I was listening to him today that you know the research all points about that we are all about challenge and growth and that's if we're not doing that then basically we do start to struggle from all the other stuff in life but I think also while challenge and competition is great because it brings out those great things in us, I think we also need to remember that we're all equals. So, you know, one of the things that one of the best things I, someone said to me once is respect all and fear none. And I know sometimes how easy it is to put people on pedestals or to judge people and see them as being bigger and better than you or maybe lower and not as good as you for whatever reason. It's just all rubbish and that's disempowering for everybody in policy is we're all humans here. We're all equal and get on that level playing field and then go for your dreams.

Pete Cohen  2:55

Get on the quest, I can't wait to get on the quest for all of the information on the show notes, and Karen thank you so much for your time today I really really appreciate it and it's been really, it's been fun, connecting with you again. After all these years,

Karen Darke  3:10

You too thank you, Pete.

Pete Cohen  3:11

Thank you.


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