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Blog: Blog2


Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Welcome to another episode of Fresh Perspective. Thank you for joining us. Today I have a very special guest, a friend that I made a few years ago, and a guy who spent some time trying to get me to be faster, run faster. But he gave up after only 18 months (laughs). He saw that I won’t be able to beat the Usain Bolt record, so he let it go. Llewellyn Morkel, thank you for joining me.

Thank you for having me, Francois.

So my first question is an easy one. What is it that you do?

I am a strength and conditioning coach. I work at Stellenbosch University, at their HP unit. It’s a new role that I started on the first of April in lock-down. It’s been an interesting start to a new job, but new perspective, new challenge. I like to think of myself as a facilitator. I facilitate human performance.

I like that. Why do you put it that way?

Because I’m not creating performance. It’s something that’s there, you’re helping the person to find it within themselves. You’re just giving them tools that they can use, and trying to guide them and help them use these tools, skill sets, develop these practices, in order to fully utilise what they have.

Maybe for people who don’t know what a strength and conditioning coach is at all, maybe just tell us what that is.

A strength and conditioning coach is the person that’s responsible for developing the most general physical attributes for an athlete participating in sports. So if you are a rugby player, the S&C coach is the person who does the gym work. The fitness. And now in modern-day sport, it’s also managing training loads. So, seeing how much the athlete or group of athletes are training, and managing that so that we can have optimal performance or minimise an injury. Just developing that peak level of performance and working towards the targets for the team or the competition.

And why do you do this? What made you choose this career path? What do you love about doing this kind of work? Working with athletes, and facilitating that performance, as you put it?

I like problem-solving, for one. Strength and conditioning at its most complex level is problem-solving. You have an athlete with a certain set of attributes, and they are working towards a competition. We are trying to figure out what is the best way to reach the highest level of performance with the least amount of risk so that the athlete can perform. And there’s a lot of variables that you have to take into account, that makes things challenging. Also, the fact that there’s so many variables makes things very interesting. That’s the one side of it. The other part is, I’ve always loved training. So I’ve been obsessed about training as long as I can remember. From watching Dragon Ball Z when I was a kid, and seeing those little training montages in the scenes which lasts like four weeks, because five minutes in the show’s time passes in a week. So that’s always been interesting - training in general, and how to improve yourself, get fitter, stronger. For me it started out as - I was a fairly small kid, and I wanted to gain weight and size. Then it was: well, how do you get bigger? Just weights. And then, according to that, I found the standard bodybuilding magazines. The Men’s Healths, and did the four sets of twelve, and tried to get biceps in twenty months. Didn’t work. Still working on those biceps.

No gun show yet?

No (laughs). Then it was that, combined with a martial arts background. And martial arts has this constant - it’s a growth mindset. It’s inherent in most martial arts, that you’re always struggling to improve. It’s practice to get better, to sharpen up a technique. And there’s not a lot of separation between fitness, strength, and speed and power. The skill and the strength is almost the same thing. And it’s different to that mindset of bodybuilding where you’re kind of lifting weights for an outside purpose, an aesthetic goal. It’s more performance orientated. And that point of view gelled with me. I think that’s why the whole biceps thing never worked out. Because I never really cared about big biceps, I just cared about performing.

I just want to make sure I got you on that. So strength and conditioning coaching is about the performance. It’s not about looking a certain way physically. That’s not why you train. You train, because you want to achieve certain goals. Am I with you on that?

Yes. So you kind of get this with lifting weights and gym culture: you get tons of influences. And I think the biggest influence in lifting weights has been Arnold Schwarzenegger in that era of bodybuilders. I mean, in modern culture, that has been the most popular representation of lifting weights and gym. That’s kind of what we see for the most part. Up until now, where crossfit is kind of taking over that path. So up to now, lifting weights has been associated with bodybuilding. And then, in strength and conditioning, lifting weights has been associated more with power-lifting and weight-lifting. So, your strength sports. And then bodybuilding kind of influences it there. What’s the best way to build muscle? It’s bodybuilding. But with the caveat of, you need to build muscle in order to perform a task. Where bodybuilding’s purpose is, you build muscle to look a certain way. And it kind of goes all the way back to old-time strongman where it was a contest of performing a feat of strength, or being able to do something astounding like lifting a weight. But also, how you look was part of it. So there wasn’t really the separation between bodybuilding and weight-lifting. It was one thing. Or two parts of one thing. And then it kind of separated. You’ve got your people who are interested in bodybuilding, and your people who are interested in lifting weights. And the most popular culture of bodybuilding is now weight training. Where your sport area is more - gym is a tool to achieve on the field of play. So we have to keep that in mind.

Is that the difference between a personal trainer, which is about looking a certain way, and strength and conditioning, which is about performance?


You also mentioned the growth mindset, Llewellyn. What do you mean by that?

There’s a book by Angela Duckworth called Grit. And it talks a lot about having a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is, you believe you have an ability. So you almost feel like that skill set is innate to you. You are good at math. And if you’re not good at something, you won’t ever become good at that. Your mindset in terms of that is fixed. Where a growth mindset is more focused on - say, if you are not good at math, it’s not that you attach yourself to that, it’s a skill set that you can improve. So there’s growth within that. I’m kind of oversimplifying and butchering the book a little bit, it’s definitely a worthwhile read.

That sounds like Mindset from Carol Dweck. Are they kind of similar?

Ah, yes. I am confusing books. It is the Carol Dweck book, but they talk about it in Grit as well.

Okay. Got you.

After reading that book, I realised - like, you kind of take this reflective look at things that you did. And with martial arts, it’s always that you’re striving to improve something, a skill or a skill set. But it’s not that you are just good at this and bad at this. Like in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you can’t be bad at defending a choke. Because then you’re just never gonna be good at Jiu Jitsu. It’s a skill set. So you can work on it. What’s the components of developing defense, and you can work on these components and string them together. Over time, you’ll grow into the skill set. That’s kind of inherent in the belt process of your promotion from white belt up through the ranks. So this growth mindset is the thread that’s in martial arts. It’s a system or way of thinking that kind of broadly applies to a lot of things.

Meaning the belief that you can actually improve a skill, instead of the fixed mindset where you have it or you don’t.

Yeah. I think the thing that you can learn from doing a martial art is very applicable to a lot of things in life. You learn to transfer skills. I’ve realised a lot of times that things that we’ve learned in training in martial arts didn’t make sense when we were doing it. Now, ten years after doing it, I’m like, oh, that’s what he meant. That makes so much sense. If only twenty-two year old me made sense of that. It’s this path and skill, and it’s almost all-encompassing. And a growth mindset is a massive part of it.

You obviously work quite closely with athletes. Because you are right there training them to be able to either perform on the field, or help them in their recovery process. Am I right? Is that also part of strength and conditioning? How do you recover from an injury, and how do you help players do that? Or athletes.

So the recovery from the injury, it’s always a process, but depending on the injury, the duration and how the process operates changes. So it starts with your medical professionals, your doctors, your physios, and then goes on to your biokineticist. But during all of this, the rest of the body is still there. The athlete still needs to train. So the other part of my role is working around the injury. So - how can we still operate as close to the level as we did when the athlete was healthy and fully-functioning and training normally? What can we do around the injury? Because athletes are resources. They’re used to operating at a certain level of intensity, a work rate. Now when you’re injured, this drops off. And it affects your state of mind and all of these things. So how can we stay as close to the normal that we’ve had, and keep that training process running? What are the work-arounds that we can do, and what are things that we can improve? How can we take advantage of this situation? Yes, it’s a negative that the athlete’s injured, but what’s the positives that we can take from it? It means you are not on the field. If it’s a low-body injury, we can work on certain upper-body strength elements. If you have issues with your shoulders, we can work on improving your shoulders. Just dedicate time to things that we wouldn’t be able to do in a normal season. Basically the same mindset that we have in the current condition of Covid(19). It’s like, what can we use in this situation?

So working that closely with athletes and players - I know you work with the sevens team as well. What makes the difference for athletes who really cope well in terms of the mental strain they take when things go wrong, like an injury, and they are not able to perform or partake in an event or whatever? When you are that close, you obviously see some stuff. What are some of the things you’ve noticed that really put a strain on the athlete?

I look a lot like the sevens conditioning coach, but I don’t work with the sevens (laughs). I’ve worked with some of the players in an individual capacity.

To answer the question, I think how you perceive the situation is one of the biggest determinant factors of your mindset around the injury and the process. There’s always this process, depending on how severe the injury is. Initially, the loss, so what you’ve lost by being injured, the opportunity you’ve missed out on. Or what the injury has taken away from you. It’s valid, and you have to figure out how to deal with that, and you need to process that. I think that’s where a good mental coach or sports psychologist comes in, to help with those things.

Where I can help with that, is just re-framing the situation. So giving the athlete something to focus on. Because I think when we have something to aim for, we direct it and we have purpose. We know what we’re going for. I think an injury kind of throws you off course. You don’t know where you are. Like, what’s happening now, I was focused on this, I was working towards this thing, and now there’s this thing that blew me completely off course. Now we have to kind of figure out what’s happening, and I think the sooner you can figure out what’s happening, to then re-frame the context of the situation. Everything is perspective. It can be a bad situation, or it can be a much worse situation, just depending on how you look at it.

Can you say more about that? What do you mean? Can you maybe share an example, say a player is injured and cannot perform. Or misses out on certain events.

So a player gets injured in a build-up to a trial game. He gets injured, and he misses his opportunity to attempt to make a higher team. It’s a massive loss. Now you’ve lost this opportunity, and if it’s an age-group thing, it’s not gonna come around again. So now your path to the end goal has changed.

I like that. Your path to the end goal has changed. That’s a great way to put it.

I think with a lot of these long-term processes, we forget that there’s a bigger goal at the end. Because you can’t keep things that are so far away and focus all the time. So we inherently tend to focus on the shorter term things. And also, if it’s a process that a lot of people are following and there’s a very common process that happens, we tend to focus on that. If it’s school-boy rugby, for instance, it would be: we play for our school, we need to make the Craven-week team. At Craven week, we perform, we get signed, et cetera. Move through the ranks. But you get the exceptions. Those guys - Willie le Roux - that doesn’t play first team for his school, but in the end still makes the national team.

Yeah. Has a world-cup medal.

He didn’t follow a common path to a goal that a lot of other people have strived for. But he got there anyway. You don’t actually have to follow the same path.

So you get injured, and you don’t make this trial game to make a team. But is that a goal? Or is that a checkpoint on the way to the goal? So if we look at what’s the bigger goal, where we are currently, how do we get to that bigger goal within the situation that we are now? Where we are now, what can we do to get there? And then it’s focused on what you can (do). It’s a simple mindset of, it is what it is. There’s things that you can control and things that you can’t.

I was listening to a podcast with Andy Stump. He’s a former Navy Seal. He spoke about your circle of concern and your circle of influence. The bigger circle is the circle of concern. Inside of that is your circle of influence. You’re concerned about a lot of things. But of all those things that you are concerned about, how many of them can you influence? We expend a lot of energy being concerned about all of these things, but of all of those things, what do we have an influence on? Let’s focus on those. Sometimes taking a step back and saying, okay, this is the situation, it sucks. But what can I do? What can I focus on? What can I have an effect on that will change the outcome of this situation in the long term? How do I get to that bigger, longer-term goal another way? What’s the work around the current situation?

Steven Covey writes about that in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The circle of concern and the circle of influence. So how do we actually increase our influence? So when we’ve got a situation, we have a pathway to a goal. And like I said, I like the way you put it. The path has changed. It’s not like you can’t get there anymore. So the sooner you accept the change and adapt to it, the more you can actually put your focus on where you have influence. So what are some of the ways that we can actually increase our influence?

I’ve never really thought about it as increasing the circle of influence.

More about focusing on the circle?

Yeah. I’ve seen it more as like, focusing in. So becoming a little bit more laser-like. Converging. If we focus on these key things, and not waste energy on things that we can’t focus on, can’t control, then we maximise these things that we can influence. And I think it’s through maximising those things that we can influence. Then, it starts to expand. Let’s go to the sports example. An athlete is injured. They can’t train at full speed, but maybe they can do more aerobic-based work. Like base fitness. Work that you can time. Breathing work. So it’s something we can do, it’s fairly simple. We can learn to more efficiently use our respiratory system. So now we can focus on nasal breathing, which is going to help our stress levels, improve our aerobic response, it will improve our recovery. So when it’s high-intensity bursts, being able to come back to that base level again. It’s something that we have an influence over. That’s going to help other things later. And that may be how you expand that circle of influence. I suppose as the situation progresses, you have more influence over things that are happening. Whereas I think that if we don’t focus on things we can influence, we kind of stay in the same place, the same rut. And then the circle of concern grows and the influence stays the same.

And the energy is wasted, right? So if you focus your energy on the circle of concern, but the things that are outside of your influence, all that time and energy is wasted, because it’s got no effect. You know, working with players as well on the mental side, I’ve seen that happen. Focusing on the coach’s choice of a team and obsessing about that, instead of focusing on where they actually have influence. Like training, developing skills, improving a skill set that’s not quite on par yet. I’ve seen players focus on that. And blaming, you know. No influence, but they’re still focusing on that.

I think those things are easy. It’s easy to be negative. It’s easy to be a victim. It’s easy for the world and everybody to be against you. But it’s hard to say, this is my fault. To put things on yourself and say, I could’ve done better here. Looking at your own faults. Or looking at things that you struggle with. You need to look at it. Everybody struggles with it. I think those things are difficult. The thing that’s gonna drive the needle forward, in the right direction, is - the answers are usually fairly simple. It’s just difficult to do. Getting stronger is not hard. Getting stronger is: move a little bit more weight than you did previously. Good compound movements over time. It’s like, squat three times a week for ten years and you’ll be strong. A very simple process.

For ten years! (Laughs)

Yeah, but that’s the thing. Strength is not built overnight. It’s a long process. And you have to love the process. The process has to be enjoyable. You have to focus on the process, and then the outcome happens.

I like that. Talk about that a bit. Focusing on the process. I want to link it to what you’ve been saying. So these things are simple, but hard. Instead of going the easy way, which is blaming, and focusing on things you can’t influence. But what do you mean by focusing on the process?

You get process-driven people and you get outcome-driven people. Both work towards a goal. I’m gonna geek out on animé here, but there’s an animé series called Dragon Ball Z. The two main characters, Goku and Fajita, are always striving to become stronger to meet a situation. Like, there’s a new evil villain and they need to fight this villain. So they need to get stronger and level up to be able to fight off the bad forces. So there’s this evil, and Goku has to train to reach this outcome. He trains hard, follows the process and then has the fight. And then after four years of episodes, he eventually beats the guy. Where Fajita, he trains for the same thing, but he’s also constantly comparing himself to Goku. Why is he not as strong as Goku? Why is he taking so long to reach this process? And it’s so much about - in the storyline, it’s reaching super sayian. Goku did it because he needed to reach something higher. So he needed to get stronger to fight somebody who was way stronger than him, and in this process he ascended to this level of super sayian. Fajita’s focus was just trying to get to super sayian because it was his birthright, what was meant for him. In the storyline, you can see the differences between a growth and a fixed mindset, you can see the difference between process-driven and outcome-driven, and you can see somebody who enjoys the actual process of doing the work, even though the work is hard. And there’s suffering, it’s challenges. They enjoy what they’re doing. Versus somebody who’s doing all of these things that they don’t like to do. They put themselves in this place of suffering, this challenge, just for the outcome. In the storyline, they had the outcome. But what happens if they don’t? In the storyline, that character’s never as strong as Goku. With a lot of Japanese animé series, you find a lot of parallels, like two characters in the storyline, following the same story arc and process. It kind of goes into this whole Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, but it’s about just finding enjoyment in what you’re doing.

So training can be hard. But things that are difficult don't necessarily have to be bad. You can suffer a bit in training, and hate it in the moment, but that joy that it brings you afterwards. I was listening to a hunting podcast with Steven Rinella, and he says you get two types of fun. You get fun that’s in the moment, like going on an amusement park ride. Or you get things like going on a hiking trip, and it’s cold and raining, but you’re with your friends in these awesome surroundings. But the weather’s miserable, it’s cold, your socks are wet, and it’s not a fun time. But afterwards, every time you get together with those friends, you have the stories. You think back on what you did. The funny little moments in between all of the suffering. It’s an experience that brings you happiness afterwards. In the moment it wasn’t great, but for years and years afterwards, you have this moment you spent with friends. Whenever you see those friends, you remember that. So there’s the difference with training that’s difficult, but you enjoy it. And enjoyment can be the people that you do it with, what you are training for, what you focus on while you do these things. It’s a very complex process. And finding joy in the process is different for everybody.

People also seem to lose momentum and motivation when they’re only focused on the outcome. So you said, outcome-focused and process-focused. Because there’s no joy until you reach the goal. And if you don’t reach the goal, there’s absolutely no joy. But if you focus on the outcome only, the whole journey towards the outcome is suffering, and then the reward is actually diminished once you reach that goal. But if you take it the other way like you described now, enjoying the process, and seeing the process as the goal, staying in the process as the goal, then you are rewarded the whole time through. Does that make sense?

Yeah. There’s a lot of stories or parables that feature this idea, this concept of process versus outcome. And if you’re so outcome-focused, even if you do reach the goal, then what’s next? Then you have to set another goal and work towards that. But then, I think life is the thing that happens in between goals. Or the checkpoints that we set ourselves. So, if all we’re focused on is, I need to reach this goal, and now I’ve gotten this, this is the next goal. You get so caught up in just doing the work. What have you done in between? Have you enjoyed the process? If you look back, was it worth it?

It makes complete sense to me. Sometimes I hear people saying things like, I’m working hard now, so I’m putting in all the extra hours and the overtime and all of that, because once I get that goal, then I’ll be able to relax and slow down, spend time with the family, and so on. But once they get there, it’s just, what’s next? They’ve developed a certain lifestyle and mindset on their way to the goal. It seems to me that if you don’t do that consciously, understanding that you’re developing a certain mindset in the process of reaching the goal, you just continue that mindset even after you reach the goal.

Especially for high-achieving people, or people who are very driven, to get caught up in the momentum of what they’re doing. It’s easy to do that. I find myself doing that sometimes. You just get caught up in the go, go, go. I need to do this. This is the next thing. You have this project list of all these things you want to do and complete, and you’re just feeding off momentum. But if there’s something that forces you to stop, or you happen to stop, you’ve missed out on things for no particularly valid reason except that I’ve been telling myself this story that I need to do this, and then once this is done, I can stop and I’ll be able to rest. I think there is time for sprints like that in a task, or in working towards something, but you have to have something or someone or a practice that keeps things in perspective. I read a book, I think it’s by Seneca, On the Shortness of Life. And he talks about these practices, Stoic practices. Meditating on your death, and those things. Think about it. If you are this driven person, and you tell yourself the story of, I’ll be able to rest. I’ll be able to spend time with the family once I finish this. What if you die tomorrow? Like, that’s not there. You don’t get to spend time with family. You don’t get that story that you’re telling yourself. So if I’m not doing everything I can to maximise my whole life, is this picture worth it? And maybe it is worth it for you. But it’s important to have those things in perspective.

Maybe you do have to do it. Elon Musk does have to work 14-hour days and sleep on a couch at Tesla to do what Elon Musk does. But does things fit into his perspective of how he operates in the world? I suppose it does. It’s more likely the scenario in a business context. So if you are working these long business hours and putting in all of this time, and you tell yourself, later I’ll have time; just having this thing that helps you re-evaluate what you’re doing in your process, is a good thing. Having a perspective-giver.

Makes sense. So books sometimes can do that for us, change our perspective and give us a bit of clarity. So you’ve mentioned Grit, and Mindset. You were talking about Seneca, On the Shortness of Life. What other books or authors have influenced you in your path? When you look for changing your perspective, or giving you clarity on what’s important?

If I could give away a book to everybody, I’d give them The Art of Learning, by Josh Waitzkin. I think every kid graduating high school, even before that, should read the book. I don’t know if you’d get the book when you’re in high school, but I read it in my honors year at university, and I was p*ssed off that I only read the book then, because it made sense of how I learn things.

Just give a short idea who he is.

So Josh Waitzkin is - in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, he’s the boy, the chess prodigy. Searching for Bobby Fischer was actually written by his dad. Then later, he wrote this book The Art of Learning. It starts with his journey in chess, and how he learned the game, how he was exposed to it. Then how he transferred that into learning Tai Chi and competing in Tai Chi bhashans (49:00). Also later, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I found out about the book because of training in Jiu Jitsu. Then, I read a bit more, and I was p*ssed off. I was studying, and I was like, oh, this could have been so much easier.

I cannot sit at a desk and learn. My mind generally thrives in a little bit of chaos, so I’m the person that’s walking up and down the library, going through things. I’d be studying, and I’d have no clue what’s going on, but I knew, in a couple of days I’d know what’s going on. It was gonna happen. I didn’t know exactly how, but it was gonna happen. So I was just gonna do what felt like it made sense. Then in reading this book, I was like, oh, so this is actually how I operate. And I found examples of when I did certain things, and when I studied a certain way, I did very well in a test. There were certain patterns that were there, that’s when it happened best. And when I tried to do it another way, like a more structured or rigid way, I really struggled, or I lost interest. I didn’t pick up the skill as well. That book has been a game changer.

So what’s some of the principles that he explores in the book?

Things that stand out to me: with a chess game, he started learning at the end game. So, when there were less pieces on the board. Starting where it’s close to the end, and scaling back towards the start where there’s more pieces, more chaos. Where by comparison, most of his peers in that age group were taught opening moves. How to win the game with these big openers. For him, if he could make it past that opening sequence when the board opened up, that’s when he really had that advantage. So seeing that end picture and understanding the steps.

Starting with steps from that end picture and working backwards, is something that stuck with me. I like to look at something and then reconstruct it. Look at the end product. In strength conditioning, what is the movement that we’re trying to improve? We deconstruct it, look at these sub skill sets. What are the little areas that we can improve on, and then roll back towards the complex scale? Or learning a subject: what is the end subject? What are the sub-areas that we can dive deeper into? In another chapter, he was talking about flow state and trying to create a flow state. Knowing the moments when you were in flow, and then creating triggers to recreate it.

Can you just explain what flow state is?

I would recommend listening to anything Steven Kotler says about flow. My simple version of it is when everything clicks. Things feel effortless. You sit down to read something and all of a sudden it feels like it’s been 20 minutes, but it’s been four hours. I found it while rock climbing. I always got it after falling the first time. Because you climb, you are attached to a rope, and you panic, you do something, and then you fall. Once you fall, you’re like, okay cool, the rope caught me. There is still this degree of fear, but it’s not as much as it was before, because you know the rope is there. And you’re just relaxed. There’s no tension, there’s no resistance within yourself to do certain things. Also, there’s no pattern. How you move and climb this thing is there. You’re in the moment. You’re focused on the thing, the situation, whatever’s unfolding in front of you, and you are utterly present. In the book, he talks about creating a ritual to create a flow state. You’re building a trigger for it. It starts with a very complex process. Like for example, using the book, it’s a very long process, and then it gets condensed over time until it’s a mental trigger, like a switch that you flip.

So kind of learning how to trigger that flow state?

Yeah. I think the biggest take-away from the book was figuring out how you do things. Like we said with reaching goals that are common among people, there’s common practice that everybody follows.

A typical path.

Like with studying, everybody sits at a desk with highlighters. It’s not everybody that needs to walk around. Maybe there’s a lot more people that need to move and learn, but it’s not something that you’re told. It’s not a common process.

It’s not a study method that you learn, that you get taught.

So the biggest take-away from the book I got, was that process of self-discovery. Learning how you learn, has been one of the great influences in that book. Another book that ties in with that, is Mastery by Robert Greene. Any of his books. If you’re gonna read it, read all of them. But Mastery is really the book to read. How he presents the principle and gives a story that reinforces or presents the principle.

He’s quite an intense guy.

He is. I’m actually making my way through his latest book, The Laws of Human Nature. It’s a very heavy read. But a very interesting book. The Rise of Superman by Steve Kotler is on the book list.

What stood out for me in that book, is how extreme athletes actually go into that flow state quicker because of the high stakes. So that kind of causes them to be able to go into the flow state. Because they are forced, because of the high risk, to focus more. To be more present in the moment. But when you get around to reading The Rise of Superman, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts with him, and a lot of people that I know have read his book, and recommend it. So it’s on the list, but it got bumped a few spots by some other books.

It’s quite fascinating, what he explores in terms of extreme sports. I also read Stealing Fire, how people get into the peak state using all kinds of different methods and stimulants and drugs. So it’s an interesting avenue to explore. One to put on your list for when you get there (laughs).

So if people want to reach you and contact you, Llewellyn, how do they go about that? Where can they follow you, see what you’re up to?

Probably Instagram, @llewellyn_m_performance. Just search Llewellyn Morkel on Instagram, and you’ll find my account there. That’s where I put most things out. I’ve kind of stepped back from sharing a lot of content lately. But I’ll get back into it. It’s sort of been more of a learning, researching phase. And now I’ll just start documenting and sharing a bit more.

And any perspective that you want to share to athletes, or people trying to get to that next level? As someone that’s worked so closely with so many athletes over many years. I include myself in that elite group of athletes, of course (laughs).

As soon as touch rugby makes it into the Olympics.

(Laughs) I’m gonna be in the team.

I think for athletes wanting to reach the next level, there’s a few things. I think it's to find mentors, or better put, there was a mixed martial artist called Frank Shamrock, and he speaks about this plus, minus, and equal. Find somebody who is your equal, so somebody who is at the same level as you, basically working towards the same goal, that you kind kind of work with and compare yourself to in some instances, but more that you can work with. A minus is somebody who’s at a lower level than you, that you can mentor and bring up. I think in teaching or showing skills, you refine your thought process. Or your thinking around that skillset. And then find that plus. So, that person who’s at that step above you. Or a few steps above you, that guides your process.

I love that. Plus, minus, and equal.

Yeah. I think that’s an important thing. It’s also again a thing that’s inherent to a lot of martial arts, and I think more sports could benefit from operating like that, with that mindset. The general message is, try and find the opportunity in every situation.

Good and bad.


So, very last question. What do you feel is your superpower? What do you bring to the world that you feel is unique to you?

Remembering arbitrary facts (laughs).

And your beard.

My beard is… there’s people with more powerful beards than mine (laughs). I think my superpower is the same as everyone else’s. The only difference, maybe, is that I’ve started to embrace mine a little bit more. I’ve put together my different interests and connected the dots. So, the interest in outdoors, martial arts, strength and conditioning, cars, physics -

Dragon Ball Z.

Dragon Ball Z, anime, movies. All of these seemingly different things, just looking at where they’re similar. Like, what is so awesome about Dave Grohl playing all of these instruments? And how does that apply to a sport? How does Dave Grohl playing a guitar compare to a Samurai with a sword? I’ll summarise everything with a quote by Miyamoto Musashi. He wrote the book, The Book of Five Rings. He was a Samurai who fought in, I think, 60 duels and never lost. And there’s a quote in his book, which says “know the way broadly, and see it in all things”. I think that’s what I try and do.

Very cool.

See the connection between everything.

Love it. And having had the privilege to get to know you when we worked together at SAS and so forth, also working on my speed-work, I definitely can confirm that that is your superpower. Being able to connect many things. And that’s what I found so interesting in talking to you, and why I wanted to have you on the podcast. You are interested in many different things, but you are able to link them all back to what you’re actually trying to do. Whether it’s working with athletes, or in your own life and where you’re heading. It’s been great having you, Llewellyn. Thanks a lot.

Thank you for having me, I really enjoyed it.

Thank you everyone for listening, and remember, if you change your perspective, you can transform your life. See you next time.


Books referenced in this episode are available on Amazon using the links below:

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