How to Overcome Setbacks and Win in Life with Greg Searle

Can you imagine what it takes to win the Olympics, and how it feels to accomplish such a feat? For one gold medalist, it wasn’t that different from how he felt when he won other small races. However, it taught him life-long lessons that have shaped who he is today.

Joining us for this episode is Greg Searle, who won a gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Greg talks about his career and family life and shows how he stays humble and down-to-earth despite having achieved massive success. He also shares the secrets behind how we can overcome our setbacks to win in life.

To know how you too can feel happy and satisfied with your own life and accomplishments, tune in to this episode!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. How to get motivated from knowing where you started.
  2. How changing your mindset can lead you to be satisfied with what you have.
  3. Find out Greg’s top secret to success.


  • Book Greg and hear his story in person through his website.

Episode Highlights

[2:41] Greg’s Rowing Career and His Life’s Proudest Moments

  • Greg’s proudest moment in his life is his rowing career. The highlight of his career is winning an Olympic gold medal in 1992.
  • His school history teacher, who won a gold medal in 1984, inspired him to get into rowing.
  • We often set goals, make sacrifices and put ourselves through pain to achieve them. But for Greg, it wasn’t sacrificing; it was a choice, and he enjoyed the work involved in training.
  • Winning the Olympics didn’t feel different from crossing the line at other rowing competitions — it was just the next big challenge.

[8:01] Never Forget Why You Started

  • You need to understand your motivation. A lot of leaders in organizations forget why they started and what gives them personal validation.
  • As leaders get more seniority, they go further and further away from doing the thing that they are good at.
  • You must remind yourself why you’ve gotten where you are in the first place.
  • To remember that, you could connect to people who are still out there doing the jobs they used to do.

[9:51] If Not Now, When?

  • Garry Herbert asked Greg and his brother ‘If not now, when?’ when they were two lengths behind at the Olympics. 
  • Hearing those words was enough to take them forward, from being behind, to leading the race by a few feet.
  • Listen to the full episode to learn about Greg’s life after winning a gold medal in the Olympics!
  • He was aware of the difference it makes to be successful and to fail. It’s about coming to terms with living with that and realize that winning doesn’t dictate who you are.
  • He looks up to people who have not won gold medals but are still incredible team players.

[19:04] Watching His Family 

  • Greg and his wife put importance on creating codes of conduct and recognizing the significant things.
  • His second highlight is having the opportunity to be around his family and seeing them mature into the people they are.
  • He’s aware of the pressure on his children given what he’s achieved, but he doesn’t want to put that on them. What he wants is for them to celebrate the small successes they have.
  • Being happy with the effort you put in is what’s important — not whether you win or lose.
  • He doesn’t place much weight on what they learn in university. It’s about how they’re around other people, making friends in organizations, working hard, and being helpful.

[25:52] Having a Good Mindset 

  • The third thing Greg is most proud of is his mindset in life, which allows him to choose how to see situations. He’s proud of his ability to be happy with what he has and not be disappointed in what he doesn’t.
  • He attributes his mindset to how his hardworking parents brought him up. Growing up, he remembers being grateful for the material things they gave him.
  • Set tiny goals — you’ll hit them because they’re so small — to have something you can feel good about. Then, challenge yourself to do the same thing again.
  • Occasionally, you’d want to stop and admire the view, which is the time you’re focused on what’s in front of you. And sometimes, you have to make giant leaps and climb steeper steps.
  • Having confidence allows you to have a better chance of accomplishing things and getting back up. Listen to the full podcast to know how Greg applied his mindset in teaching his children how to drive!

[35:48] How Greg Deals with the Virtual Word 

  • Currently, Greg coaches people and shares his story with larger audiences.
  • Working in this virtual world, you should engage with a lot of people in a manageable way.
  • Be adaptable to change to be able to do your best in this new situation.
  • Choose to find the best way to work in the environment we’ve got.

[38:14] Greg’s Three Favourite Olympic Moments 

  • First is Daley Thompson winning and whistling to the national anthem.
  • Second is his friend being there to celebrate despite not having been on the boat.
  • The third is meeting Kate Middleton.

[40:10] Greg’s Secret to Success

  • It’s choosing what to think or choosing to measure what you think success is.
  • The only thing in your power is the view you take of yourself and the things that have happened to you.
  • It’s in our gift to choose how we see the situations we’re in.

5 Powerful Quotes

[6:42] ‘I think as a sportsperson, you have to just keep looking for the next challenge, and you just keep stepping up and stepping up’.

[9:55] ‘If not now, when? If not you, who’?

[22:13] ‘I want to help my kids to understand that whether they win or don’t win, whether they pass or fail, shouldn’t dictate whether they’re going to be happy or not. They should be happy with the effort they put in; they should be happy with challenging themselves and dealing with setbacks’.

[30:43] ‘Small successes give you more confidence and build on each other’.

[34:41] ‘Actually, the best coaches aren’t necessarily experts — they create a safe environment, they ask the questions, they find other resources when they need them’.

About Greg

Greg Searle is an Olympic gold medalist and leadership coach. He won gold in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and bronze in the 2012 London games. On top of that, Greg received the MBE at only 20 years old. Currently, he uses his experience to help people understand how to deal with change and adversity, be resilient, and change their behaviour for the better.

If you want to reach out to Greg, you may visit his website.

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