I'm ready to level up!

High Performance Habits with Adam Whitelock

Aug 29, 2022

I am incredibly excited to have my friend and legend, Adam Whitelock on the show this week
Adam brings a consistent record of aiming high and delivering excellence. After years of playing rugby at national and international levels, he has extensive experience in setting goals, planning and strategising, analysing, adapting and excelling.
Adam is a former New Zealand Rugby Union Player. Adam played for the Crusaders Rugby team for several years before moving on to play for The All Blacks Sevens, where he was crowned World Champion. Adam later moved to France to play for Bayonne, a French Rugby Union team.
Adam is highly regarded in the sporting world, and he shared a lot on how to develop high performance habits in this episode. Adam shares some gold in this episode.
Adam has recently started a new venture in his career and life. He is a devoted husband and father to 2, soon to be 3, beautiful children.
My top take aways from this interview were:
  • As a high performer, if you aren't grounded, you can lose your footing and forget about where you have come from. That's dangerous. 
  • Make sure that everything is founded on respect for others.
  • Get back to your roots and immerse yourself in where you began your journey.
  • Enjoy the struggle. Adam enjoys the struggle. At the other end of struggle is success. Learn to enjoy the struggle.
  • Forming habits takes consistency. Be consistent and you will form new, amazing habits.
  • You can either get inspiration or desperation. Desperation is such a great motivator. So is inspiration.


Full Transcription


Adam Whitelock, James Laughlin 


James Laughlin 00:00 

Welcome to lead on purpose. I'm James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion, musician, and now an executive coach to global leaders and high performers. In every episode, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you lead your life and business on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today on investing in yourself. Enjoy the show.  


James Laughlin 

Would you like to connect personally with some of my podcast guests? They are arguably some of the most influential leaders and high performers on the planet. Each month, members of my HPC, the High Performers Club, get to connect with a leadership titan in an intimate Q&A. They also get access to powerful high-performance leadership coaching, and monthly masterminds. There are only 20 seats at the leadership table. You can apply today by going to www.jjlaughlin.com/HPC. 


James Laughlin 01:06 

It's not very often that I get to invite a great friend onto the show and share their story with the world. Today's the day. Adam Whitelock is a former Rugby Sevens World Champion. And we're going to talk about his rituals, his routines, and his mindset. you will notice throughout the conversation, that there is one continuous thread, and that is family. Families are at the heart of what Adam thinks and does that who he is. And yet he continues to set these high-performance goals and continues to meet them. I know you're going to get so much from today. So please grab a pen and paper. And if you can think of a friend who is doing great things and who looks like they've got it together. Just know that maybe they don't. And there might be something in today's episode that will really help them and support them. So please share this episode with a friend jump onto your WhatsApp, your Snapchat your text whatever way you share with people and share this episode, it may be exactly what they need. So, sit back and enjoy the show. 


James Laughlin 02:25 

Adam, a massive welcome to The Lead on Purpose Podcast. 


Adam Whitelock 02:30 

Thank you, James. I'm excited to be here. 


James Laughlin 02:33 

Oh mate, I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. Obviously, we've got a great connection and a great friendship, and we enjoy each other's company. But I thought you know what, it'd be great to share some of our amazing conversations with the world and with our listeners. You're just an incredible person, a phenomenal athlete. When I look at what you've done as an athlete, it's amazing. And what's so great about that is life after rugby is just as exciting and challenging. And everything that you do is family centered. And so there are just so many things I want to unpack today that so many of our listeners will want to learn about. So, I guess a starting point is, you know when I look at you, I just see someone who's a real high performer, and high performance is something I geek out on as you know. So, when you think of high performance, no, where was the starting point? Well, why do you think high-performance is part of your psyche? 


Adam Whitelock 03:26 

I think growing up with my three brothers, the competitive nature of having three brothers within five years, so they started from a really young age on the back lawn, playing rugby. You know, playing on the farm, building huts, that sort of sowed the seeds to ultimately lead to high performance. So, it wasn't high performance probably came when I was a first-year academy, 18 down here in Christchurch with the rugby academy. But I think the roots to getting me to that point started with my upbringing. 


James Laughlin 04:10 

I love it. And yeah, so for those that are listening, and maybe some of those international folks that are not so aware of rugby is an incredibly important part of New Zealand culture. New Zealand is the world's best at Rugby time and time again. So, you and all of your brothers, you've got three other brothers are all and have been professional athletes in rugby, which is just incredible. So why did that happen? What was happening in the family in the background? Is there some history in terms of rugby? 


Adam Whitelock 04:40 

Yeah, I'm proud of rugby, here it is. My grandfather played the All Blacks in 1953. My dad played for New Zealand under 21s. My mother's uncle was an all-black, my mother's brother-in-law was an all-black have many cousins and other family members who played rugby I guess yeah; it was sort of growing up with the brothers. We played rugby on the back lawn, but then we started at four or five years old and have played right through and built careers out of it. So yeah, perhaps having a family history of rugby certainly helped. 


James Laughlin 05:22 

Yeah, bet, I bet. And I guess, when I look at any of you incredible professional athletes, there's just something about the way you think. And the way that you look at risk, the way that you look at hard work, and it's just different than most. So, that kind of thinking was that part of saying mom and dad or grandparents reserve some real hard work ethic from a family base at home? 


Adam Whitelock 05:44 

Yeah, definitely we're extremely lucky to be brought up on a dairy farm. So, us as kids, our fun was outside building huts, you know, climbing trees, cosmos hunting, you know, running around the farm, and as we got a bit older, was working on the farm, milking the cows, cutting firewood, you know, cutting hay covering silage sticks. So, I think that really taught us you know, the prep, heavy net practical upbringing was we were really fortunate. And this gave us that slightly harder edge, which is no doubt playing rugby. Those experiences of being brought up on a farm. Where things are real, and practical certainly helped. 


James Laughlin 06:28 

Yeah, I bet. And what's interesting is I've met one of your other brothers. And both of you guys have a groundedness. No, I haven't met the other two. But I'm sure there's a similar thread that goes through there, that you have an ability to really connect with people. And it's sort of very genuine. It's in a very genuine way. There's no aloofness, there's no Hey, I was a professional athlete I played at the top, you've got this real humanity about who you are. So just tell me a little bit more about that. So, you know, mom, dad, and how they taught you to treat others and how they treat others. Where did that come from? staying grounded as a professional athlete is not easy. 


Adam Whitelock 07:05 

Yeah, we're always told to use our please and thank you's, show respect. You know, help the old lady across the street was brought up with that mentality. Sort of that old-school sort of mindset. Yeah, we were, we were, you know, disciplined, you know, as children in taught right from wrong. So, yeah, really, it really came from your parents, and then their parents. So strong family values are definitely at the core. 


James Laughlin 07:41 

That's amazing. And we talk about self-discipline, right? And everybody that's listening right now, wants more self-discipline in certain areas of their life. So, to be a professional athlete, self-discipline, it's a given, you've got to have it. But before self-discipline comes, often there's discipline, and that's from a parental standpoint. So, we get disciplined, which helps us to understand what self-discipline might look like. So, in terms of discipline, did mom and dad hold quite high standards around what was acceptable and what wasn't? 


Adam Whitelock 08:13 

Yes, certainly, you know, we'd all set up and eat dinner, finish your plate. Yeah, there was, like we, as growing up, you know, we were allowed to be kids and play but for example, on Christmas day, we would all go milk the cows and dad would give the staff time off, we would have to get up at four o'clock and go away and milk the cows till eight o'clock and come back. And we would open our presents and have the family lunch but then in the afternoon, we'll go back out to work. Traditionally have done this since, you know, perhaps we were 6, 7, 8 in an age like that and we've gone every time we're at home, we're always expected to go down and help out on Christmas Day. And that's just an example of keeping humble, you know, helping out never forgetting where you come from. You know, even when we're professional athletes, we would go home in on Christmas Day, we would help out on the farm. So just, there was a way example I think which is, which has been great. 


James Laughlin 09:24 

That's amazing. I love it. I love to hear that. I'm sure there are other people smiling right now as that as they hear that, that simple act of coming together, connecting as a family as a community, and saying, you know what, let's do this. Let's give our team let's give our staff Christmas off. And the kids and the parents will get this done. So, you talk about going home. And again, I think that's an interesting one. So many people that are listening right now will not live where they grew up. So, this culture nowadays is that we do travel and it's easy to travel and lots of people live in different places. I guess I'm an example of that. 12,000 miles from home. There's something about going home that really, creates this nostalgia, but brings you back to where you started. And just remind you of what's important in life. So, when you go home when you go back up to the farm now, how do you feel when you're there? You know, what does it remind you about in terms of what's important in life? 


Adam Whitelock 10:18 

Yeah, a lot of great memories. Yeah, you're just, it's great to reconnect with your family it brings you back to your roots. It's, it's great. We've all I've gone on down; I've got a wife and two young kids and one on the way and where my other brothers, we've all gone out and forth, sharing lives and careers, but we get up home a couple of times a year. It's great. It just, you know, that's where it all happened. That's where you grew up. So many great memories. He had a small place outside of Palmerston North, but not a big, not a big place. Yeah, it's always great. 


James Laughlin 11:06 

I love it. And it's so interesting, Adam. So, in our time together, you know, we've talked over the years about family a lot, you bring it up a lot. And it's a central part of what you talk about what you think about how you operate. So just for a second, when you think of family, what do you believe, about family? So, like, globally, what are your beliefs about family in terms of what role it plays in life? 


Adam Whitelock 11:30 

Yeah, I think it all starts the home base, you know, that sort of, you know, home as we're lovers and, and we're, you can always come back to that support that stability. You know, we never when I was in France, or anywhere in the world, you know, you can always bring home and have the love and support from your family, or your brothers or your sort of wider family. They're always here to support you. Through thick and thin. 


James Laughlin 12:03 

I can see that with you, Adam, like family is just so central to everything that you and I connect about and talk about. So, let's go into if you don't mind going into a little bit the rugby, I'd love to chat about the rugby love to chat about when you hit the academy. What started to happen there and what built from that the Canterbury Academy, and what blossomed from there. So, when you arrived in Christchurch, the big smoke? What was it that changed? What did you have to get into what were those big things you learned? 


Adam Whitelock 12:31 

Yeah, it's really exciting. You know, you're leaving school as an 18-year-old and coming from the North Island down to the South Island. And I was really fortunate I got a spot in the Canterbury rugby Academy. And then I knew I only knew two people in Christchurch, I had a bit of family from North Canterbury. But the first day you're walking into your gym session, and Chris Jack was there and other All Blacks are in the gym, and we've got star structured, you know, as a young 18-year-old, but it was great being in the Canterbury in the Crusaders environment because you're rubbing shoulders with these current All Blacks. So that's great because it provides inspiration. You sort of everyone has an on the same floor. And hindered, it's actually quite a smart way of doing it. Because they're not isolating the top team over there. You know, they're making them visible to young people. So, it was very inspirational. Very, very tough years, I was studying full time and training every day of the week. A lot of my friends at university were partying, you know, every other night and I went to training and I sort of made a lot of sacrifices to go and put the hard work and I was getting, you know, I never had a dinner normal time it was always after 9-10 I put away in the fridge for me when I got back to my unit Hall. So, it was great. Those couple years of training really set me up to crack it in the third year to have a decade of professional rugby. 


James Laughlin 14:09 

That's incredible. And the word that really stuck out there, was Adam was sacrificed. And I look at anyone who's best in the field and every single person who has connected with me interviewed and asked questions always talks about sacrifice. Now when you look back on that, and you go I didn't probably party as much as my friends. I probably did have to work twice as hard. I probably did get less sleep. Wear those sacrifices was all worth it. 


Adam Whitelock 14:33 

Almost definitely. It was I enjoyed the struggle because it was very tough. It wasn't easy. We were training hard and yeah made me very strong by you know, having that discipline but certainly, when I made it and I was in the third year I was being paid. And then I was traveling the world and then also the people I was mixing with and lucky enough to win a few titles. I mean, those memories can never be taken away. And you're perhaps if I didn't work is so hard, which I've worked very hard. They might not have ever come. So yeah, I wouldn't, I wouldn't change anything for it. 


James Laughlin 15:13 

I love it. It's so interesting, a couple of things there I want to unpack one have I enjoyed the struggle, that's awesome to hear. And so many people would push away and go, I don't want to struggle. So, I want to talk about that. And the other thing, it's so interesting. So, I've got many different people I've chatted with who know you. And the one common theme that keeps coming up from all of them independently is hard work, super strong, super committed goes the extra mile. But very hard work is who you are. And it's at your core. So, let's first of all, unpack, I enjoyed the struggle. So, how did you get into a mindset where you could go, this is a struggle. But I'm going to enjoy this, what was going on up there? 


Adam Whitelock 15:56 

Yeah, I was always a hard worker. And, you know, just got off baker state when I was at school, I used to get up and go for a run at six in the morning. And then, you know, as a school, boy, you train in the afternoon. And then I remember looking at my wife after training, whatever, another half an hour, so they don't do an extra run around the block. But then when you have to scroll on down in the academy, you're just that whole training level was going up a notch. So, it's probably, you know, there are times where you know, you might run home and say it's pretty tough, or you might complain a bit and then you just get us getting reassurance from family, we Academy managers stick in there, keep playing, playing well and turning up and then you know, a certain time in the season, then you'd have a couple of games. And then you realize he only played well because he's stuck in there. And in the past a lot of players that a lot of players might have been a lot more talented than me, but they might have started missing sessions or not by not being as committed, and then you could see yourself passing them. So, it was rewarding to see the progress. 


James Laughlin 17:09 

I bet. And if we talk about, like we can struggle a little bit this and discomfort. And then there are times when we go into this is painful. So, when you were kind of drifting between discomfort and pain physically or mentally, how did you push through? Do you have a memory were like, Yeah, that was an incredibly tough time or tough session? How did you push through that? 


Adam Whitelock 17:30 

Yeah, I think like the sessions are, it's tough physically, I enjoyed that. It's probably mentally like, as a young kid, you know, just knowing that another training session, you just got to turn up. But by recording that in your diary, by getting that momentum, once you got a few months behind the year, sort of, you're building that momentum, and then it becomes your new normal. So, all of a sudden, what you're doing, you adjust to it. So, it's just persistence and in, in keeping going like just keep, you just got to keep going. And that's the key. 


James Laughlin 18:10 

Was there ever a time out where you were at a point, or almost, you're about to throw the towel, and you're like, now this is too much? 


Adam Whitelock 18:18 

I had doubts, but there's the uh, sometimes, you know, I remember a key conversation with Canterbury coaches, I thought I was working hard and playing well, but they pulled me aside and said, we need more of you. And it sorts of took me by surprise. But through that desperation, I went out there the next week, and just went up a notch and scored four tries. And then that sort of kick-started me to start playing really well that season. And I've always felt like you can either get inspiration or desperation. And there's been a lot of times, certainly, I've had a lot of inspiration, but there's some desperation as well. 


James Laughlin 18:55 

That's really cool. I appreciate you sharing that. And not everyone will know that. But you've mentioned a couple of times already, just in our conversation today, around other people, family, friends, coaches, and managers, and just how they played a role in your success. So, for the person that's listening right now, that's trying to go it alone. They're trying to do everything by themselves, build their business, build their life, and I'm sure there are some athletes listening to try to go out without any help. What would you give them advice around having a team or having coaches or managers? 


Adam Whitelock 19:28 

Yeah, you have to, you have to get help and have someone to keep you accountable to support you. Share your goals with them so they can understand where you're going. But as an athlete, you know, you have to have an open mind to be coachable to learn. Yeah, it's important to get there, those four or five people key people around you and sport for example, for me, my academy manager, my club coaches, my, the trainer in the gym, skills coach. Yeah, your family, it's really important to this. They are there to support you. And also, when times are tough, they can, you can just be a shoulder to lean on. 


James Laughlin 20:20 

That's brilliant. Yeah. Well, you're at the top of your game, you're flying high. And the media are right behind you, it's gone great. And somebody in your team, say, your coach, your manager, your family comes over, and they have some critical feedback like, hey, don't like that. I don't think you should do this better. But as an athlete, sometimes you've got this ego, which is a healthy part of being an athlete, you need it. But how do you switch that off for a second? And go, you know what, rather than be defensive to that criticism, I need to listen to have you had that moment where you felt like you might just be defensive, and then went, no, no, no, this is for my betterment. They're doing this for the good. 


Adam Whitelock 21:02 

Yeah, you certainly, you can get defensive when someone gives you constructive criticism, but I feel like if you sort of sit down and you know, build a relationship with them, and then you get to the point where you see them as trying to help you and you don't get defensive. But you have to get to know them and build that relationship before. So, it's just spending time together. And then when they come up with those, those their honest feedback, you really do see it as feedback because a lot of the time you might see them as a bit of a personal attack. But no, they're actually just trying to help so just being connected and really tight before they're getting to know each other so that when those tough conversations happen, they can you can take it on the chin and really listen. 


James Laughlin 21:54 

That's really, really powerful in terms of building trust, and respect, and that relationship before you start to give advice or before you start to critique. 


Adam Whitelock 22:04 

Yeah, definitely. And I like you definitely need good honest feedback, but I always responded well to good positive reinforcement. It just motivated you more as well. So, I always think it's better to you know, give good feedback and positive reinforcement more often but you still have to have an open mind to sometimes get the honest truth. 


James Laughlin 22:27 

Yeah, 100%, And if we think about the academy and then what ended up happening with Academy Crusaders and so tell me about your some of those highlights. So, once you started to get up into the higher end of professional rugby, what were some of those key highlights with Canterbury? 


Adam Whitelock 22:43 

Yeah, there are lots of highlights but you know, in when the year 2014 being voted players Player of the Year was special because it's the guys left and right of you that you go to battle with and they vote you know, after each game player of the day or the worker of the day and at the end of the season the person with the most votes. Got warrior of the year so that was special you know playing with my brothers was really cool. And over in Africa and in some of these hostile environments, your first games you never forget. Suddenly you don't forget about winning championships. Those moments are special. Yeah, there are lots of other sorts of games here and there but winning a world title with the New Zealand sevens was special over in England. 


James Laughlin 23:35 

I mean, that's incredible. Like when you think about that to win a world championship in anything but to do it in sevens. For anybody that hasn't watched sevens. I mean, you've got to jump on and check out some sevens. It's just high Pace. It's full very skills based. It's short, sharp, you've got to be switched on mentally. So, what was the difference for you because to me, there's a pivot there between playing what you do say with Canterbury and then pivoting to sevens. What was the challenge for you to do that? 


Adam Whitelock 24:01 

Yeah, that particular year I got really fit the preseason and wasn't playing a lot of Super Rugby at that time. So I got invited up to the New Zealand Stephens kin in a minister when the fitness test and the guy the coaching caught in touch and you know, I think that that there was a set sort of an threw in the door and then I played okay in the trials in the amount of managed to make the team but it was a high, high pace high school game. And for me, I just felt like it was a chance for me to work really hard. And it suited that style of play for me. Of course, he needed the hot slippers and skillful people and people with a lot of paces as well. But you're going into that environment. It's it was great to travel around the world and to win a World Series Title was awesome. 


James Laughlin 25:03 

And in terms of the team, so when you guys are building up for that world championship, how much of what you did was focused on the mind? Because we often see people in sport, and we see the tactics, we see the physical side of it. How much did you guys focus on your thought process, your beliefs, and your visualization? 


Adam Whitelock 25:25 

Yeah, the coach lived there. And you know, we had to be up in our bed early in the morning, and normally in the pool and the sea just to wake ourselves up, it was one of those little rituals. And he was the strict diet of what you couldn't eat. But on the game day, if your first game was at 10:30, we would get down there early until we finish the session. Because he wanted us to get our second win. So, when the game, the first game came around, you were you're sort of primed and had had your heart rate up. And also, for teams arriving at the stadium, if they saw you out there do shuttles and in schoolwork, it was just to show them that, you know, we were confident in our fitness and we were at the stage, you know, we were out there doing fitness just to sort of mentally put doubt in their mind. And lots of other teams started to do this as well. But certainly, yeah, just going through the process, your warmup. Normally your routines, your habits or power, or wasn't the superstitious player that you'd normally just had your routine and made you feel in control of your warmup. You know, you get out there and not much would change, don't you think you do to warm up? So then when you played, you certainly had a plan of how you wanted to play, but then a lot of the game is paying what you see and backing instinct. So, it was just always getting that balance. But it was certainly as soon as you finish, you're in the ice baths, and you're stretching, you get some food and you'd have a rest period, three, three hours later, you're playing again. So, it was very, you had a plan and you stuck to your habits was the key. 


James Laughlin 27:01 

I love it. Yeah, there are world-class habits when it comes to any high performance, activity, and sport is life or business, or the make or breaks, right? That's interesting. And let's say you've had a big win championship win or the world you win the World Cup. So how important is it to celebrate? You know, we often are focusing on the next thing, next thing, but how important is it to stop and actually embrace that celebration? 


Adam Whitelock 27:27 

Yeah, it's very important to celebrate. It's up to you, you know, how you do that? You know, I've seen a bit of everything in sport, with the celebrations, and they can certainly be some enjoyable times. But I think you know, whether your party, we don't plan to have a fizzy drink or a beer, it's, it's all good these days, you can choose as an individual, but there's certainly no pressure. Certainly, we've enjoyed some of the celebrations in the past, it's probably good to reflect also, you know, with your coaches and your teammates, and extract out over that week before you're dispersed and potentially go to other teams, or we'll have some time off just to capture the key learnings. But also, when you win, if you lose, you've also got to celebrate the season and the effort you put in while you're disappointed with potentially not say winning that final, you still have to acknowledge the fact that you got there and just sort of put a line in the sand to, you know, draw the season to a head. But yeah, I think we high performers, you know, we as soon as you finish one thing, you're always looking to do the next thing, and I'm like that, but you just got to decide if it said, well, how big the celebration needs to be or what's appropriate for each situation. 


James Laughlin 28:48 

Yeah, I love it. I think it's yeah, just critically important when you look at the habit loop, last part of the habit loop is the dopamine release. And that's what kind of reinforces the loop to keep happening. And so, when you have even a small win just celebrate it in some way. And essentially you talked about high performers, I've been thinking about this the last couple of weeks, Adam, so a high performer will set a goal. And let's say it's a top of a mountain and the head towards that goal. And that can be a business goal or a sport and they get close to the top of it. But as they get close to the top of it in the distance, they can now see another peak up high. And I talk about it in my mind, like the high performer's horizon. So, most people's horizon is there, like you look over the ocean, that horizon is there. But a high performer's horizon is always upwards, and it's always the next peak. And it's never-ending. So, a high performer generally won't get to an endpoint ever, you know? So, let's say for yourself, you know, you have your sports career, then you finish. Well, that's not like your horizon doesn't do this doesn't go flat. You're constantly looking. Okay, what's next? Where's my next challenge? So that high performer's horizon, you just kind of described it perfectly when you talked about that. 


Adam Whitelock 29:57 

Yeah, I like how you've explained that too, James. And I guess if because for a high performer and yet you're always trending upwards, I think it's okay to have that plateau if you decide, you know, we've got these two or three weeks or we're going to go on holiday and switch off. Or it's and you're in control. But then when you sit down or you want to climb the next peak, there eventually comes I think that's when you're on the plateau when you know you're out of your control. That's, that's probably the worst way to be, I guess. 


James Laughlin 30:34 

100%. And on that front, like, I think we all I know, we all hit plateaus that are not in our control. We don't want them we don't enjoy them. When was the last time that you hit one of those plateaus where it was a lull? Or a low or just this moment that just wasn't heading in the direction you wanted to head? 


Adam Whitelock 30:53 

Yeah, I've had a few of them and my sporting career. You probably, yeah, just got to go have some open, honest conversations with the coaches and trainers and perhaps try a few different things. Sometimes, you know, those like, don't get me wrong, like, while more built a career through sport wide work ethic and fitness and doing the extra going the extra mile and staying, I don't think skill. So that's what got me there. But sometimes, you know, they always become a point where less was more, and just getting off the training field and recovering a bit. But more or getting in the last pass was good. So, it's just realizing that sometimes, you know, what change might be needed in the second part of the season? Yeah, and just keeping an open mind, I think being an athlete, and also after rugby, is my new career. So just look for new ways to challenge yourself. 


James Laughlin 31:54 

Yeah, 100% I love that. And you and I've chatted about human needs psychology in the past, where we've got to meet our needs for certainty as humans, but then right after that, if we've got too much certainty, then we get bored. And so having that variety and meeting that need for variety is also really important. And I hear that with your ice baths, and with seeking different input and having a brick and like actually keeping variety as part of your recipe. 


Adam Whitelock 32:21 

It definitely, excuse me, and then unlike during the training way, you know, one way the coaches might change up the venue, or we might do things the other way around, or go out and do a session on the beach. And it was just created a different environment, a different atmosphere. And you need that you need to keep things interesting as well. 


James Laughlin 32:43 

100% And let's, let's talk about life after sport. So, when you were getting towards the end of your playing career, what were you starting to think about in terms of the next step? What was your process? 


Adam Whitelock 32:58 

Yeah, before I cracked into professional rugby, I studied in had got a commerce degree from Canterbury University. So as a couple of years full-time and then I kind of set off part-time. But I learned a lot about myself and hard work and discipline through rugby. So, like, while my core role to play rugby, I sort of learned a lot of life skills and sort of realized that a few years after you finish how much you learned. But it was, yeah, it was, I guess coming back and starting a family back in New Zealand, getting a family home, and sort of creating that environment for you and my wife had come with me around the world and supporting me. So, I was just getting back and getting a solid base for her first and foremost. And then it was really just really a good year or so before just reconnecting with a lot of people in Christchurch in the business world, especially in the agricultural world. And the other side having lots of coffees reconnecting, and yeah, I got an opportunity I did, I went back onto the farm for a year and reconnected with my roots related to the family business which was tough because it was a complete change from the professional sport but I really appreciate that the opportunity looking back now in the I use my degree got on a roll, rural banking with A and Zed and then just recently have started with Bailey selling rural real estate. So, it's quite cold to you know, come back to deal with farmers, the rural community. It's, you know, a big economic source of farming in New Zealand. And, yeah, I'm just also using, my sporting background to help pave my next career. 


James Laughlin 34:48 

It's amazing, and that what I see there and I love there is that agriculture farms, people that have been a thread constantly throughout your life before After rugby, and even during rugby, heading up home a Christmas and whenever you could get up and be around the farm, a love that that's kind of the center of who you are and what you do. And now you're in a career with Bailey's, and you're selling rural real estate. And what I love about that is when I think of you, Adam, and I'm sure when people listen though, we don't hear a hard fast salesperson is just trying to make a sale. We hear a genuine human who wants to connect with other people and do right by them and do it at a high-performance level. And I mean, what gets better than that they get from Bailey's perspective? That must be amazing to have you on board. 


Adam Whitelock 35:38 

Yeah, it's a great company. I'm really enjoying it. I think I have eight months. Bailey's right I like rugby, you know, when you score that try you play a good game and always started with you know, your preseason and the speed and especially that week, you know, Monday to Friday or Sunday to Friday how much work you put in that week, you know, all blacks always used to say that you know your it gives you a chance the right or a chance to play well on Saturday how well you've prepared from Sunday to Friday and that was your recovery nutrition but most importantly your training and you know your mindset so I see it with Bailey's now like I'm not Yeah, oh, sorry, go to the rugby it wasn't ever going out there and trying to be the hero was it was just working hard. And then those magical moments would happen off the back of doing the basics well, but now I'm at Bally's. I'm trying to warm up, reconnect with farmers build relationships, and be genuine in helping out their needs now. So, when the time comes, so they want to buy or sell. Hopefully, they trust me and want to use my services. 


James Laughlin 36:43 

It's amazing. And the one thing I know about you and the others should know about is just your commitment to planning your commitment to excellence, your commitment to, you know, preparation. So, what does it look like? What does a week look like for you in terms of preparing for your week and what you do in the morning? So, what are those key things that you are nonnegotiable with? 


Adam Whitelock 37:04 

Yeah, and I learned this through sport like, you know, setting out your weekly planning. So then after each day, you're ticking, ticking the boxes. So, when you get to the game, you can go out and play with a clear mind back the planning you've done so you can go ahead and play what you say. But you've also got a bit of a plan to guide you. But so, I've used it to come into my professional work at Bally's. So, I sat down on a Sunday or not evening or fishing on a Monday I can just write down two or three key points for the week. And I normally just reconfirm what key appointments that I find, you know, getting up early each day really, sort of the writer of the day, and it just propels me into having a great day. And what I do is I have the first hour to myself. So, it's getting up you know, between about four and five, probably I actually average my get-up time over a year. That sounds a bit crazy, but I just recorded it for a year was four 4:38 am. And then I would you know, get up, have a shower, meditate, I would also watch five minutes of inspiration, I would look at my vision board and sit down, you know, write down a few key things for the day. Normally exercise with a run or go to the gym. And then I could either go to work early or you know, have breakfast or you know, do a pretty extreme exercise. But then mean when I got to work, I would start early. And by starting early the whole day, this would flow, and I got the momentum, the success through momentum. 


James Laughlin 38:51 

I love that. And there are a couple of things I want to chat about that I'm sure others picked up on too. So, one, you measured for across a whole year, you measured the average of your wakeup times. Now what I find fascinating about that, and some people might be like, whoa, that would be so hard to do. And but you measured it and across the year it was 4:38 am. When you think of high performers, they measure things, they measure the important things. And you decided early rising is actually a really important factor in a successful life, successful relationships, and successful business. So, I love that. And so, for the person that's listening right now, I want to urge you to do the same thing, measure the important things. And for Adam, that was early morning. So, if we look now at your early morning, he talked about a couple of things you did when you got up. So firstly, when you get up, that meditation was high on the list. So, what role does meditation play in your life? Why is it important? 


Adam Whitelock 39:48 

Yeah, you know, I'm 35 James and you know, I've got young kids and I've hit a career some getting some life experiences behind me. Certainly, when I was 22, I was probably naive and still young. And I never would have thought about meditating until perhaps late in my career, I started doing a bit of visualization. And, you know, it's just maturing a bit. And but certainly, since I've finished, I can realize, you know, meditation is a great skill to have just been a bit more open-minded. So, it just allows because I'm so busy during the day or so occupied during the day, and I've got lots of appointments and talking to lots of people. I just find having that pause, at the start of each day just really puts me in control, like on number one, and just a simple peck of breathing allows me to be more present when I'm talking to people. And just feel in control, when you know, if your day is getting out of control, you might just pause for a minute during the day and say we'll come back to the center. So yeah, it definitely helps with connecting with people being present, and just being in control. 


James Laughlin 40:58 

That's awesome. Yeah, I totally agree. I get it. 100%. And in terms of the type of medications, do you have an app you use? Or do you have like a way that you like to do normally? 


Adam Whitelock 41:09 

Yeah, I keep things pretty simple. But I'm always open to ideas. But yeah, might be sort of teen minutes, just a way on YouTube, I normally just Google it. And I sort of mix it up between half a dozen different sort of meditations. But it's pretty simple enough to start at Box breathing a little bit off you recently, James. So, it's just keeping, keeping myself open to new ideas. 


James Laughlin 41:40 

That's great. And honestly, I think, I mean, I follow the same as you, I have a YouTube playlist. And I just go for it. And it's great. And just I think to build that muscle, it's almost like it's a Mind Gym, physical gym. But then you've got your Mind Gym, with your, your mindset and your mindfulness. And I love that you said that when your day gets out of control, which it does for all of us, you can just go back to center and the fact that you've been building every day, this meditation muscle, it's there when you need it. So, when you show up at 2 pm on a day when you're really flustered, and you need that meditation, and muscles are right there when you really need it. 


Adam Whitelock 42:15 

That's right. But just going back to you know, getting up earlier was really tough. But it's a habit. Now I've done it for two and a half years. Now, as a kid, we get up early on the farm or for off hunting or, you know, here and there, but it really is a habit now, and having young kids as you know, I want to be home to see them and spend time with them before we have dinner and bath time. So, if I front-load the day then allows me to get home to spend more time with the kids. And also, yeah, it's just the best time of the morning. The best time of the day. 


James Laughlin 42:55 

I'm with you on that. 100% Yeah, there's it's quiet. Nobody's calling you nobody needs your attention; you can just focus on yourself. Yeah, and I want to talk a bit about family as well, in just a moment. And a couple of other things you talked about in the morning that I think other listeners probably picked up on and would like to know more about, so you watch something positive or inspirational five minutes of inspiration, tell me a little bit about what kind of stuff that is why that's important. 


Adam Whitelock 43:21 

Yeah, just that might relate back to my point before like with rugby, and especially here at Canterbury and the Crusaders or someone like Scott Robinson coaching me like he was a very inspirational person. So, you'd walk in on a Monday or Tuesday for a team meeting, there's music playing and there might play five minutes a highlight in five minutes of you know, work ethic on the field, and you're going to get up high fiving each other shake hands greet each other. There's plenty of energy and the boys are really connected in the room or from the German you're going to do a personal BSB increase, someone might ring the bell and anyone sort of gets around. So I just realized, like through sport, you know, you need to sort of feel that inspiration because I find sometimes in corporate roles if you turn up to your job, and you just go to meetings, sitting down all day and meeting to meeting, you know, we're setting a genius question coming from so I just found through sport, we'd always have heaven, you know, a theme each year on say, for example, we might base it on Muhammad Ali. So, I would really look into Muhammad Ali that year and extract everything. You know, the coach would read his book, and we will use his phrases and key. You know, sports memories or things he said to us for our team. So, there was just something personal, like if I google and or sports or another famous athlete or person then I'm just sort of picking up a couple of key things to inspire me for the day. You know, you're trying to just find little idols and you can find them online or pretty easily. 


James Laughlin 44:54 

That's amazing. And it's so interesting item is I think a lot of people will say I can't find a really inspirational role model; I can't find someone I can talk to. But actually, you don't need to be sitting in front of them. You can be learning through saturation. And what you said is so powerful, essentially, every morning, you are drip feeding your reticular activating system, with this positivity, this empowering thought process so that it literally fronts load your day with inspiration, energy positivity, and hope. Exactly. So awesome, man. I love it. No other thing in the morning. So, you had your vision board? Right? Let's talk about that. So, what's on your vision board? What kind of stuff would somebody put up there? And where has it served you? Well, in the past? 


Adam Whitelock 45:44 

Yeah. And like, just going straight to the rugby game would always have, you know, photos of the germ or inspirational quotes and, and, you know, coaches in the past have always, you know, led them through creating our themes. But I think, you know, what I learned like I was, I'm a big read writer, I always write down things. But I sort of figured the last few years, especially this year, despite having photos up, that you see, just once again, you see every day, while you're actively looking at that for five minutes, every day, or perhaps. And every time you pass that room, you might just have a wee glance, in the end, I think it just puts it into your mind that, you know, these things are achievable, you're aiming to be this person or achieve that. It's powerful. I think, you know, by doing a fear at work, or at a company, just by doing values or goals, once a year is great. But if it's only once a year, and it's on paper, it was put in the front of the top drawer, it's sort of worthless. I'm a big believer in everyday, like our habits. 


James Laughlin 46:50 

And every day, if you were to wake up, and you would look through this filter of the world, you've got this filter that sees the world around you. What are those values? What do you value the most in life that shapes how you think and what you believe? 


Adam Whitelock 47:03 

Yeah, as you mature, that question might, that might change slightly over time, but certainly, you know, having kids and a wife now as number one. You know, giving loving your family and being loved by them, but I do find a few can really look after yourself first and get your own headspace right and get fit. Get in control of where you're going where you can lead your family, you can lead to being a great dad, a great parent, and a great brother when you're sort of in control of yourself first. lead yourself and then you can lead your family, your friends, and your community. 


James Laughlin 47:49 

That's amazing. Yeah, I heard like a few key things there in terms of value. So, leadership, family, mindset, health. Those are really big, strong things that came through as you spoke. And, you know, I think if any of us lived a life with those as our major values, we're going to have a pretty incredible life. So, let's talk about family a bit. So obviously, when you started rugby, you're a young fella and no family. And now you've got two beautiful young kids, a beautiful wife, and another one on the way. So, what is it about the family that you love? What makes being a dad so special? 


Adam Whitelock 48:24 

Yeah, I really enjoy the sort of really present one-on-one time with my kids. Look, I'm working on building my career at Bailey's and working really hard. So, so I'm just really treasuring the time that I get all the time that I choose to when I'm with my kids. So, I'm total with my kids. So, I just love taking, excuse me taking them to the beach and picking up shells or building sandcastles and teaching them. Just the things about nature. That is what the one-on-one time, could be displaying but rugby with my younger son Louis on the carpet could be reading books or taking my daughter to the library or the museum. It's just those little special moments that are really enjoyable when you sort of just 100% Focus on your kids. 


James Laughlin 49:18 

And what's really, really impressive and I think important to highlight here is that you want to be successful in your career. And you're going to be in your focused on a but you're not doing that at the expense of the relationships around you. And it's about striking that balance and I imagine it because I experienced it myself. I know lots of other people do. It's challenging. It's challenging to grow a career and to be really present. 


Adam Whitelock 49:42 

Oh, definitely you have to block time, I believe, you know, I might be this weekend coming up where you know, it's family or you might go away with my wife and in the kids. It's sort of having non-negotiables I guess I'm on the home by this time, or I say no to these few things. And now I'm not perfect at this like, but, you know, this is a way I want to. I want to get to some really, I want to be really successful in my career, but also, I don't ever have any family or see my family, why am I doing it? So, you know, some weeks, as you know, might be working more, but I've just kind of realized, you know, if it's a few weeks down the track, I need to put some time back into the family. So, it's always a juggle. It's not an easy thing to do. But certainly, if you look after yourself first and make family number one and always come back to that, which is on my vision board. It just keeps me keeps in front of my mind, what's important. 


James Laughlin 50:55 

That's brilliant. And it's easy to get lost in the excitement, of career and business and goals. And forget about what's truly important. And I think a year two years, five years can pass really quickly. But when you've got some parameters around it, you've got some systems in place like you do, then it can help when you do get a little bit too. On that side or this side, you can actually come back to what's important. 


Adam Whitelock 51:18 

Yeah, definitely. It's just been. Yeah, just working that out with your wife or husband, I think and just sitting down and sharing your goals together, working together to be aligned, then I know, you'll never be perfect, but it's perfect. It's not a thing. But yeah, I think it's just really listening to each other to work out what's important. 


James Laughlin 51:45 

Yeah, that's so interesting to talk about perfection, I think you and I've chatted about that in the past around like that a lot of us feel that we have perfectionist tendencies. But you know, Perfection isn't really measurable. I like that you say that, you know, perfect is not where you're headed. And so, with your partner so with Tiff, when we think of like your career and your relationship, how does that all balance out? You know, she traveled around the world with you and went to France, I'm sure had the most incredible time. And so how does that all work? What are the greatest challenges you know, being a partner of someone who is a high performer and an athlete? 


Adam Whitelock 52:22 

Yeah, I think when you have an unfortunate injury playing, you might bring home that disappointment or you might have been to your wife, or she might see you when you're you know, your most down. So that's probably quite tough on sports people's partners. What else is there? Yeah, like, it's, you might miss a team or not be selected. And they might also take the brunt of that. So yeah, it's not easy, following a sports person around the world can be a bit, you know, with transient, sometimes I was reasonably fortunate to sort of only play for a few times. So, we had a bit of a stronger base, rather than changing every year. But certainly, experiences through sport, we're, we're extremely grateful, you know, we can speak another language we, we made some awesome people, some great experiences, and Tiffany was there for a lot of that. So, to have Obama side, and yeah, just I guess, to thank her, and she does a great job. So today is a great wife and mother so yes, she certainly helped me sort of achieving, what I've achieved and the experiences I've been fortunate to have. 


James Laughlin 53:45 

That's beautiful. And that's right. I mean, your partner gets to experience the ups and the downs. And their input behind the scenes is just so valuable and often goes unseen because it is behind the scenes. And, you know, I guess having someone who can call you out and hold you to account but who can also lift you up when you're at your lowest ebb, it's just it's vital to be successful in life to have that person right?  


Adam Whitelock 

Oh, definitely. 


James Laughlin 

I love it. And what about the wee one? So, you know, they're going to be getting older day by day. What do you hope for them? What is one value that you hope to impart with your child with all your three children? 


Adam Whitelock 54:30 

Yeah, I think I think if the faders work hard and follow the dreams, you know, encourage them to you know, love them to play sport, whatever sport that is, will support them but yeah, just probably to work hard and what sort of lights him up and because they can achieve and get so much fulfillment from, you know, realizing their potential. 


James Laughlin 54:59 

I love it. That probably segues into that question that you've kind of probably I think I answered already. But if we were to get to later in life, your last few days here and a grandchild, or someone really young, and your family said to you, hey, how do I lead my life? On purpose? You know, what would your answer be to that? If they were trying to lead it with purpose and be heart-centered and have an amazing life? And they thought you had the answer for them? What advice would you have for them? 


Adam Whitelock 55:29 

Yeah, it's a great question. And there are many things I could say. But I guess I always found myself when I'm happy and fulfilled. And you know, what I've made a career out of his probably by, by being fit in healthy in, you know, I've got that through running. And you just with endorphin releases and feeling good. So yeah, just encourage them to, to move and, and then your energy and everything flows from there, I believe. So just get out and play sport and keep fit. And you'll be, you'll be happy for a long way to go and happy living and fulfilled life. That's awesome. 


James Laughlin 56:13 

That's seriously beautiful. In all the interviews, that's what the one time that someone is really homed in on the importance of the movement of getting the good endorphins, and how that can ship, your psychology or your experience of life, you know, that physical movement, that physiology, and how it can really shape the psychology? And honestly, I think Adam, it's so underestimated. It's so there are not enough people talking about it. But you're a prime example, of someone who throughout his life has really embraced that. And after sport, you know, you're obviously doing some running. And in fact, tell me how long were those Kepler runs you did? 


Adam Whitelock 56:52 

Yeah, the Kepler was 60k, earlier this year, it was just over 2000 meters of vertical game, but the iconic sort of mountain race in New Zealand and, you know, up in the mountains and great views over Tiarna and in the Southern Alps, it's, it's great. Yeah, running with like-minded people, in the satisfaction of finishing a challenging race was awesome. But yeah, I think for me, you know, because I've played sports, it's become a habit by keeping fit. And I honestly think it just sets you up to have a clearer mind and be more confident in also the people you're hanging out with. So, if you're keeping further and playing basketball, or swimming or running, some people you're hanging with, and that energy flows back and forth. And it's, and so lots of things seem from that or not, it can be hard, but perhaps if people don't like it, but once again, you just got to stick at it for a good few months, or 60 days, for example, and then it becomes a habit. So, look, you might have ups and downs, or weeks off here and there, and you don't have to be perfect. But as long as you're, I think, you know, especially early in the morning, if you're doing something you feel so great. 


James Laughlin 58:07 

Adam, I just want to say thank you because you've shared so many incredible insights for the person listening right now, I hope they've been writing things down, or they go back and re-listen to this. But what you shared was gold on so many fronts. And I love how simple a lot of your approaches are like that. There's no complexity. It's like, hey, this is what we're doing. This is what we do regularly. And this makes a difference. I really feel this will not be the last time that we speak together on lead on purpose, I think there's going to be more opportunities to unpack, I think some of the four or five things that you do daily, we could almost do a show on each of those. Incredible. 


Adam Whitelock 58:46 

Thank you, James. And yeah, I've learned a lot of those along the way. And certainly, no one knows younger than practice all of them as I've always run but it's just keeping an open mind and you'll find things throughout life that you just didn't know the positive effect of it until you do it. So just keep an open mind. Keep things simple. Enjoy life. Keep fit. Just thank you, James. I've enjoyed giving back and hopefully, the listeners have picked up a few things so really appreciate coming on. 


James Laughlin 59:13 

That's been amazing. Have the most epic day  


Adam Whitelock 

Thanks, James you too! 


James Laughlin 



James Laughlin 59:34 

Thanks for tuning in today and investing in your own personal leadership. Please hit that subscribe button. And I'd love it if you'd leave me a rating and review. I've got some amazing guests lined up for you in the coming weeks. And leaders. It's that time to get out there and lead your life on purpose.