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Who is this Kurek Ashley character? He’s the man who played a big part in changing my life. And he did it by changing the way I see things, the way I see myself.

In a nutshell, Kurek is a peak performance and success coach. He works with people from all walks of life: CEOs, multi-millionaires, elite sports people, drug addicts, rape victims and anyone else interested in reaching their goals or changing direction in their lives.

Kurek is not a ‘motivational speaker’. He offers much more than that. The changes he teaches people to make to their lives are cognitive changes, and their effect can be permanent, if they want them to be. He’s had a varied life. He used to be a Hollywood actor. While he was doing Delta Force II, which starred Chuck Norris, he was involved in a helicopter crash that killed five men. Kurek carried one of his best friends from the wreckage. His friend was on fire and died in his arms as Kurek tried to administer CPR. For two and a half years, Kurek’s life became a living hell of depression. Every night, he put a .357 magnum in his mouth, wanting to take the final step and shoot himself. What he couldn’t do instantly, he tried to achieve slowly, by drinking and smoking himself to death. I’m pleased he failed! One day, he woke up. He realised he’d survived that crash for a reason: to inspire as many people on Earth as he possibly could. And so he created a new ‘mantra’ for his life: How may I serve?

In November 1997, a friend of mine held a success seminar for her company, and asked me if I’d like to come and sit in on it. Kerri and I had ended our partnership by this time, and I took Angela Clarke, my new playing partner, and my coach, Steve. Kurek gave an Anthony Robbins-style, NLP, hypo, American-type seminar. Everything sounded great. It sounded exactly what I needed. You see, I knew that I had what it took to be a champion but I felt something was missing. He had the missing piece to my puzzle!

It might have been a huge coincidence, but then again, everything happens for a reason. Sometime during the seminar, he said “No one remembers who came second or third at the Olympics. Even though that person is third-best in the world, they get no endorsements, no ticker tape parades, no big cash deals. Nothing. The difference between first and third in swimming can be a few hundredths of a second. The difference between first and third is what I call the competitive edge”.

He wasn’t to know that I had a bronze medal. So at the end of the seminar I said “Excuse me sir. I’m the one who stood on the third-place box. No one remembers who I am, but I’m Natalie Cook. Nice to meet you”. Kurek was a little apologetic, and went on to assure me that it was a fantastic  achievement. I was—as I tend to be—quite direct with him. I cut him off with “I don’t want to hear any of it, but thank you anyway. I’d like to talk to you about going to Sydney and standing in the first osition on that dais”. But I also admitted he wasn’t far from the truth, saying: “It was exactly the way you said it was. It was dead quiet the next day, and it stayed that way.

Kurek doesn’t like to be called a ‘motivation’ coach, because motivation comes and goes. He’s led me to the threshold of my own mind, and that’s been priceless. But it was my own desire to learn that gave me the courage to approach him in the first place. I had to seize the moment, or it might have disappeared forever. Because I was on the lookout for inspiration, I felt compelled to approach him. Don’t get me wrong. I could have listened to The Voice. I could have said to myself, “This man’s too busy to listen to somebody that no one remembers because she only came third”. A lot of us tend to do that. Our shyness or reluctance to approach someone is actually a function of something else that’s going on inside our heads. But, I guess that Kurek would have wanted to know, above all else, that I was teachable and that I had the desire to learn, and he wasn’t going to know anything if I’d just sat back and kept quiet. What I had to ask him was no small task: it was to be the best in the world at something by a given date: 25 September 2000. I asked him to be a part of it. People might think I approached him with an attitude. I did—it was an attitude of learning and a burning desire to do better. Every human endeavor begins with an attitude.

Remember this:

Looking at life from the top down, rather than the bottom up, helps us to be clearer about the steps we need to take. Describe to yourself your ideal situation, then live as though it’s already happening. What do you need to do? What do you need to stop doing? If we put no limits on our ‘model’ of the world, no perception will be closed to us.

Everything begins with an attitude. If it prevents you from learning or making progress, it may need to be reassessed and changed. Before you’re faced with a task, ask yourself about your attitude to it.

Sometimes, your ego or your fears stop you from submitting to others who have done more learning than you. It’s better to gain from the learning of others who have been there than to ‘reinvent the wheel’.

Act as if you’ve already achieved your goal, and others will treat you that way. Fake it till you make it!

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