Champion athlete spreads positivity

Steve Gurney sharing some positive advice with the audience during his talk this week.

Nine-time Coast to Coast champion Steve Gurney has shared advice to rural Southlanders on how best to remain positive in trying situations and have a winning attitude.

Malloch McLean has been hosting a number of workshops around Southland for businesses to learn more on different topics that would benefit their team. On Tuesday, July 3 Mr Gurney spoke at Winton's Memorial Hall on numerous topics including managing your mindset to reap the rewards.

From winning the Coast to Coast a record number of times, nearly dying from bat dung poisoning, and being awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for ongoing services to endurance sport, Mr Gurney said he wasn't always a winner.

"I wasn't always successful. I'm 54, retired from sport a bit broken; what I love doing now is passing on what I've learnt from my failures."

Having believed he would never be a winning runner, Mr Gurney had a "light bulb moment" when doing the 5km cross country at school where he realised he could succeed.

"Be careful what beliefs you take on... [it's about] being aware of what we're capable of doing now and in the past."

Mr Gurney said he became interested in what successful people did to help them win. Having quit his job and training 55 hours a week for numerous attempts of winning the Coast to Coast, he realised mental staleness got in the way.

"What I'd been doing was training too hard... you have to train smarter and harder."

"Successful people don't see failure as failure — they see failure as feedback and opportunity."

Attitude was another important factor for success, with Mr Gurney encouraging people to stay innovative in looking for different solutions to problems.

"There's more than one right answer. We see innovation all the time in New Zealand history books, on the world stage we box well above our weight. I think we're losing a bit of that now — there's not so much drive to innovate... we've got to keep pushing."

Mr Gurney said using positive language helped change perspectives; for this he cited the 'Six Ps'.

Rather than 'Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance', it should be 'Prior Planning Promotes Pristine Performance'.

"The Six Ps is often where innovation is born."

Having been diagnosed with depression, to the point of being suicidal, Mr Gurney said mental health was so important.

"Be curious about what your mind is doing, be prepared to go to that tricky place. If you own it, notice it, then you can move with it and move on.

"So many of us humans live in the future... true happiness comes from living now, in the moment," he said.

"It's not the years that matter, it's the life in your years." 

Mr Gurney said good nutrition, good sleep, surrounding yourself with positive people and using positive language all helped code the brain to be more optimistic.

"It's about being positive. Be the best person you can be."


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