How to Dismantle the High Performance Narrative with Rob Kalwarowsky #67

Jun 10, 2021 13:00 · 6478 words · 31 minute read

is first is you’re not alone i know that’s kind of a crack thing to say but you know it’s like i struggle lots of people struggle and it takes a lot of courage to ask for help but you need to like it took me the first time i was depressed it took me nine months to walk into a hospital and say i need help so that’s the other thing i would say is somehow find the courage to tell someone in your circle whether it’s your friend your family or a doctor it doesn’t matter go and find help what’s going on what’s going on what’s going on ballers and welcome to another episode of the beyond the ball podcast i’m your host jonathan jones and i’m excited to have another another guest today and um as you all know we we find amazing guests who are actually i mean phenomenal yes really just to be honest and uh bringing them on giving the opportunity for those you all might not know to bring them on to share stories strategies and successes because of course that’s the focus of beyond the ball ultimately helping student athletes succeed beyond their degree but hitting on those three stories strategies and successes so now we’re gonna go ahead and just bring out today’s guest and and this gentleman is a mental health advocate he’s a podcast host and even in addition to that he is a leadership coach now we’re going to go ahead and bring out mr rob kalvarovsky rob how are we doing good thanks for having me john how are you i’m doing good i’m doing good i got i got the enunciation of the name correct right better than a lot of people that i know oh yeah oh man well rob look i’m gonna go ahead kick it to you and uh go go ahead just just take a little bit and uh just go ahead and for people who you know this might be their first introduction to you go ahead and just you know just give a snippet on yourself and please go ahead take this time yeah so i mean as you know i mean i’m the host of dismantling the high performance narrative podcast with uh lauren williams and john was a guest a few weeks ago um but yeah we talk on that that podcast basically about mental health and performance and how us as high level athletes or people now in their business careers as entrepreneurs we also struggle and it’s okay to struggle um i read other stuff about me so i’m a i’m an mit graduate i have a mechanical engineering degree i’ve worked in heavy industry for about 10 years now in mining manufacturing oil and gas consulting and recently i’ve started this journey into leadership which i’m sure we’ll talk about later but it’s really something that i think as student athletes i mean we learn and we we experience good and bad leadership but it’s something to really lean into early in your career to get yourself where you need to be so that’s that’s where i’m at today yeah man i love that i love that so mit huh rob mit yeah yeah i was fortunate enough to get in um incredible school tons of incredibly smart hard-working people yeah it was an incredible experience i mean i have i have so many questions just about mit but shoot i’m open and then you graduated from mit with a mechanical engineering degree yes sir yeah so so you would say math math comes easy to you not easy but uh it’s definitely something that you can put in the reps and learn how to do man wow because i mean am i when i hear mit you know mit is like yeah i mean it’s it’s one of the it’s absolutely one of the top engineering programs in the world and when i was there i think we were ranked number one or two something like that wow okay okay so when you talk just in the work that you’re doing now what what was this something that that you all just in regards to like uh what what you were talking about just um the more so heavy duty work was this something that you envisioned earlier in your career like before starting college was this was this where you saw yourself going just in regards in regards to career trajectory not really like and this is where the leadership aspect comes in i think i took a lot of opportunities that came up for me so like i i was really passionate about playing water polo i i was on the junior national team in canada i won a national title um i played some tournaments internationally and then i sort of decided i didn’t want to play like i kind of had two options was like centralize and and try to make the senior men’s national team or or you know go to college and i felt like college was the best option for me like the canadian men’s team hadn’t made the olympics since the 80s so it didn’t seem like that was a logical way to go and so yeah i mean i started looking at ncaa schools and i was lucky enough to get into mit and something else that that kind of came up was like for me my parents very much stressed that your degree needs to have a return on investment like you need to go somewhere get a degree and that degree needs to get you a job and then that job needs to be a decent job and so that’s where the engineering part came in is it was an easy way to get a four-year degree that gets you a job um how i actually ended up in heavy industry was kind of a fluke like i i took a friend of mine to a hockey game in ottawa and i met her friend who worked in mining at the time and basically she was like hey we’re always hiring engineers send me your resume and like literally five months later i started at a coal mine in british columbia so it was it was kind of a fluke thing that was definitely not planned okay okay and then water polo talk talk a little bit about that because that’s not something that you you hear people talk about too too often was this something that you like like were introduced at a young age or what what’s your introduction with water polo and and then even how that continued just to roll yeah so for me i mean i started playing polo when i was nine years old and so like my parents were very early on the the like anti-concussion type of thinking and so hockey was out football was out um i can’t really run that well so so basketball and soccer were also out and then yeah like i got in the pool and it just it just sort of clicked for me and like yeah i got real serious about it really quickly like a lot of my coaches were former olympians um some of them were from overseas like from eastern europe and you know i started training you know seven to nine times a week basically when i was started to be like 12 or 13 and that continued all the way through like basically till i was 18 years old and then went to college so yeah it was it was a really serious thing for me um really quickly what was it like walking away from walking away from the sport after you’ve invested that much especially like you said you were you know going in multiple times a week and investing a lot of time and and then now you decide to walk away from what walk away from the game how did that impact you it’s tough right like when i started in mining at the town i lived and didn’t even have a team so it was like it wasn’t even an option um i i still well pre-covered i was playing here probably two two three times a week so i still like to get in the pool but it’s hard and i think it’s something that we forget about as athletes is like our career is going to end at some point and like whether that’s when we’re 22 and graduate college or whether that’s you know when we’re like you know 30 or 40 or whatever right and i think it’s like and this is something that i’m still working on is like you need to replace and sort of balance your life because otherwise when something ends it’s like you’re kind of floundering to try to figure out what you’re supposed to do man yeah so what balance have you have you put in place since you know to help you just just like like lev level out your life and just just with the work that you’re doing now i’m still working on balance john like it’s literally a conversation i had with my therapist probably two weeks ago um because for me i think and i think a lot of athletes will resonate with this is my life i’ve been trained to have singular focus and that singular focus leads to success and so it was like basically from i don’t know 11 or 12 till until 18 19 my singular focus was on water polo how do i get better every day at this how do i succeed at this how do we win games how do i get better um then when i got to college like i was still playing but just the academic load had to kind of take priority so it became how do i think all the time about mit about every class i’m taking about what i need to do today to to learn to get the a’s in the classroom and then really since college it’s been really difficult for me because i haven’t had a singular focus like my job and i think a lot of people resonate with this is like i found my college experience a lot more difficult than my working experience the job that i do now it’s like and my entire career has been you know fairly easy there’s not that huge deadlines there’s not significant workload and so you you really need to broaden your horizons and for me i’ve leaned into like entrepreneurship lately and like hosting the podcasts and like doing that type of stuff but like what’s really worked for me i guess in this last few months is i got a puppy and so he’s added a lot of elements to my life about like love and compassion and just even companionship that i was lacking before wow so you said you feel that college was more stressful from like now day to day what you do in the in the working world absolutely yeah i don’t even think it’s that close to be honest like um i i think i mean that’s it’s part of the load right like like mit we were training probably two we were training about two and a half hours a day six days a week so it’s like 15 hours a week plus you know plus games and tournaments and stuff and then the academic workload was extremely brutal um and yeah like right now i work a full-time job i consult part-time i run two podcasts and we just launched a leadership program and i still feel like i have lots of time in the day to do everything oh my goodness i i can’t imagine how rigorous your college your college schedule was if everything that you just mentioned you said a full-time job you said you got two podcasts in addition to launching the leadership program oh my goodness oh rob i’m i’m fearful of of college rob like what oh my goodness that’s a lot man it’s it’s a lot but yet for me it was the perfect environment and like i i read this news story before the super bowl and they were talking about tom brady and how he kicked out like gisele and his kids out of his his like huge mansion for two weeks just so he could solely dial in on the super bowl and i was like i understand that because i am that too and and that was the thing was like basically my entire career was was just obsessing over the next thing i would need to do to get it done so then i could get success in the classroom or success in the pool and like this has been a skill that every one of your listeners have cha have trained as part of their athletic career and i think like when you step out like basically my therapist called me an addict the last like a few weeks ago she said you’re addicted to success you’re addicted to this these feelings of achievement and i think it’s something that when you when you think about balance you’re trying to get away from that one element and like i’m not saying it’s healthy it’s definitely not healthy because it’s led to like severe depression in me but uh you know it’s it’s just i think it’s a product of how we’re raised hmm where do you think the line is like between being because if they’re like if i guess if obsession for success is like here but then being stagnant is he like where where is the line how do you how do you identify where the line is and how do you identify if it’s like if it’s too far or if yeah if it’s just too much yeah the line is difficult but really what it comes down to is are you able to survive without success in that one area and really what that means is are you able to validate yourself and the work that you’re doing yourself and that’s the part that we don’t learn as athletes right is like basically what we’re taught is if you score goals if you get points if you get assists if you get play time if you get minutes if you win these are the external validators that we look for to judge whether we’re doing well or not um those go away in the working world like you you’ll get performance reviews maybe once a year you’ll have deadlines depending on if you’re in consulting or just in a regular job you’ll have deadlines but a lot of the times basically you submit a report or you’ll do a project and like you’re not getting too much feedback like people will say you’re doing fine or you know but it’s not this like very s easily driven metric based like i can look at the results and say hey i did this and i think that’s the the part that’s that’s where the balance is is if you can and this is what i struggle with too is like if if something that you like let’s say you know you’re launching a program and nobody signs up if that’s catastrophic for you then you’re not you don’t have enough balance but if you’re able to say like hey you know i put in great work on this program i see the work that i did and i know it’s quality and maybe i need to make a few adjustments or maybe i pitched it to the wrong audience like these are you know some things i can do better next time then i think that that’s more where you need to be as as an entrepreneur as a person wow rob this is really good really good i mean because i spent a lot of time on the mic jonathan man yeah man because i mean these are these are these are conversations that i don’t think we have as often and really just assessing especially as we look through the lens of going from college to career or college to corporate like we see the thing that’s shiny we see the the pay or you know if we know about benefits then we see the benefits but ultimately we don’t see what we’re losing or we don’t see what like what we need essentially going from because like that’s huge thinking about going from being you know a star athlete or being an athlete because for me i was a division three athlete but even then after the games you know you go to the parties people people know your name because you’re an athlete and then you go like and and you know celebration is the external motivators of like how society lets us know oh good job good job we see you we celebrate you but then what happens when there’s no more hand claps there’s no more there’s no more pats on the back then then where where is my space in the world you i mean you’re so right and i’ll tell you my experience right so when i started my career i was working as an economist i was making like 52 000 a year and i told you the part where i met this woman who worked in mining and it and the job opportunity was like it’s an engineering job it was going to pay me basically like another 25 30 000 a year but it was in this small town there was no polo there wasn’t like i didn’t know anyone out there and it was like what’s the decision like i could live in a city i could play polo on my regular you know on my regular team i could have all my friends there i could do the things that i was normally doing or i could move out there and make like 50 percent more money but lose all that other stuff and i took that decision about moving out there because basically because my parents were like well the money’s good and it’s in the career that you studied in college and you know it led to like years of depression that i’m still working through and so i think it’s like that’s the part that i talk about in this personal leadership stuff and what you kind of mentioned is what are your values and like what are the things that you love to do those are non-negotiables like that extra 25 000 a year it’s not gonna like meaningfully affect your happiness on a day-to-day basis and then and then even in our honesty because coming coming out of college if you don’t necessarily if you don’t have that extra 25 000 then you’re you’re able to live without it but then when you get it of course you know you increase your lifestyle and certain things you might might go out to eat a little bit more go to the bar a little bit more go to different places just a little bit more based on having that but still you know if if you end up being depressed at the end of the day is is it worth it like was the decision worth it it’s like it’s probably not yeah yeah yeah man probably not man these are these this is a good conversation rob i i’ve never i i didn’t look through from the lens of of your perspective because i’m not you but it’s this make this makes a lot of sense this this makes a lot of sense so so like now if as you look through look back over your life right and you just think of what would be like either your biggest failure or a failure that as you as you see it right what what are what are you able to extract from that from that failure yeah i mean honestly i’m not sure i would call it failure i think where i am at my life is is really in this mode of pivoting um and it’s really this this element of self-discovery right like i’ve been living my life a lot and i had this thought that their day in therapy was like i’ve never made a decision for myself basically ever and i’m now i’m 32 years old and so i think that’s the real key piece that i want people to take away is even the first question is just understanding who you are because probably about if you would have met me a year and a half ago and asked me who i am i would have said hey you know i’m an engineer i’m a polo player and i’m like a podcast host and it’s like these are these are titles and resume items that we’ve done they’re not exactly who we are and now i would say something like i’m a leader you know i care about helping people i want to impact a lot of people in both mental health and leadership spaces you know i want to you know change people’s lives for the better and i think it’s very much more driven from this place of of impact and you know why i’m here which is which in essence like i had to go through these like the depression the suicide attempt and like all this other stuff to find the path out and then that path out is where i’m going now that’s really prolific right that’s really prolific really like it i mean it really is just just the level of awareness that that you’ve come to just just based on that because right you said the the you know the water polo player you know the this the that that and listening it off going back to like what we were talking about before because yes those things are great conversation starters right and and those things are also when when you say that you probably hear responses like oh i’ve never met a water polo player depending on region you know depending on region where where you connect with the individual but the other way just like you said it it’s more it’s more other centered it’s more of a other centered approach versus a i guess you can say selfish centered approach if you will wow what what what what would you say has led to that though like for you to be more more others focused and and you now to be more more service focused or leadership minded help me out rob help me out yeah and that’s really where some of the elements that we’re going to bring into the leadership program that lauren and i are doing and the work i’ve done with lauren’s boss is is really led to that and it’s really been more of this connecting to who you are understanding your values understanding what you’re good at and what you’re able to to do and just realizing i guess why you’re here and and i know that’s a tough question to say to people like if i was 21 and you would have said to me why are you here like i don’t have an answer for that i wouldn’t have an answer for that but i think that the experiences that we all go through whether they’re easy or difficult or they push us or they don’t they all end up in this place where you can draw meaning from it and i think we all i mean meaning is a need like if you if you ask and you if you take this like nihilistic point of view and say the world doesn’t have meaning you can get really dark really quickly and i think that’s where it is is you have to ascribe the pain that you’ve gone through or the trauma or you know these hard working situations or you you achieving success after working hard in an athletic career like these things have to have meaning and so you have to find what’s the meaning on the other side yeah i mean i love that because if you if you don’t attribute meaning to the other side just like you said that that really will go down really fast really quickly really really quickly because it can make it be so easy to find you know find something to upset you versus being intentional and shifting like something i know that’s been more popular as of late it seems like it’s it’s really popular um but but gratitude even though i mean people have been saying gratitude for years but when you start hearing people like gary vee say it then it it blows up it blows up man gratitude i like i honestly like i really struggle with gratitude and i don’t know what it is i’m sure there’s some element of like vulnerability that i can’t get to yet but but i really think like yeah it absolutely works if you can get there i think the other aspect is just like yeah you you need something that you feel is going well for you and that’s where the gratitude is kind of connected is like you’re looking for elements in your life that are positive where a lot of people’s brains and this is a survival thing is like you look for the negative because you want to distance yourself from the negative because it’s like you know you’re in a cave and there’s a bear coming you want to run away right um but life’s not like that anymore like most of us are not dealing with like acute physical danger and so it’s like very much we we can work on our mind and shift it towards seeing the positives um do you think gratitude’s something you struggle with because you’re you’re used to like striving for such like a high level like competing at a high level desiring to you know win the trophy to to do this to do that and it’s always like you’re always looking up yeah and that’s that’s a thing like i’m sure most people who are listening to this will will resonate with is it’s it’s a perfectionist type strategy right and it’s i only will be successful if i get the top trophy you know or if i’m the mvp if i score to most goals if i get the highest grades like all these things and it’s it comes from a place of like lack of self-worth because you’re trying to prove to the world by achievement that you belong or you’re worthy of being alive and a lot of that stuff like i had i had a conversation with a friend of mine he’s out of finance and he said some of the the people say that the hedge fund managers that make billions of dollars it’s they got there because they didn’t want to go to therapy oh man wow right but before before we get to the two-minute drill we’re gonna wrap this thing up man i’ve been enjoying that conversation um but i i want you i want you to talk a little bit more about uh high performance narrative because i don’t think you talked about high performance narrative and then also also just talk a little bit about lauren as well because everybody might not know lauren um so if you could talk about those two that’d be that’d be great yeah so i’ll start with lauren she’s she’s the co-host of dismantling the high performance narrative she she’s been a high level women’s hockey player for a long time she was trying out for team canada she was on team ontario she went to university of wisconsin and won a national title with them she was the first overall pick of the worcester blades that’s the women’s pro league in the u.

s and now she’s a currently a high performance coach and so we’ve partnered together to to do this podcast called dismantling the high performance narrative really to talk about a lot of the stuff we touched on today so mental health performance and and basically these elements of what made us successful in our athletic careers what made us successful in our academic careers what made us successful in our entrepreneurship or working careers is actually these beliefs about ourselves or these conversations that we’re having where we are struggling but yet we’re pretending that everything’s perfect and like basically like i’m a prime example of this right like i work all those jobs that jonathan and i talked about like 10 minutes ago and yet i still struggle with depression and suicide on a daily basis you know lauren she told this story about trying out for team canada and literally crying in her closet at night and we were trained as athletes to like suck it up you know rub some dirt on it get back on defense like all these things and yet those types of strategies about suck it up are gonna are killing us or will kill us eventually so that’s where we go with the podcast is it’s about opening space for these vulnerable conversations about you know it’s not everything needs to be perfect that we’re all real people regardless if we’re achieving the most or the or the most things that in our circle like that’s what it’s about um yeah and a little bit off that like lauren and i are doing we just launched a leadership program called the leadership launch pad on friday and it’s it’s basically about a lot of the stuff we talked about today it’s about learning and connecting with your values it’s about becoming a personal leadership in your own life and then if you’re in a career or you’re in your community or you’re in your family becoming a leader for the people around you and really leaning into impact so service of others and really understanding and taking your story and distilling it into an impact that you can go out and have in the world so if you’re interested in that you know you can go to highperformancenarrative.

com leadership all the stuff’s there so that’s it boom boom right before getting too injured i have to have to ask you this also because just from what you shared it really just spurred the thought in my mind but if if there was somebody out there who who also is battling uh you know having suicidal thoughts like like what what word of encouragement would you give them what tip or or what what advice or insight would you share um with with that individual just to help them you know navigate uh through this tough just you know this this tough yeah i would say honestly is first is you’re not alone i know that’s kind of a crack thing to say but you know it’s like i struggle lots of people struggle and it takes a lot of courage to ask for help but you need to like it took me the first time i was depressed it took me nine months to walk into a hospital and say i need help so that’s the other thing i would say is somehow find the courage to tell someone in your circle whether it’s your friend your family or a doctor it doesn’t matter go and find help and and like another i guess another tip is likely the first medication and the first therapist won’t be the ones that you’re looking for so you’ll have to continually ask until you find a path that works for you like it just that’s the way mental health is it’s not an exact science and so it’s very much trial and error but you just gotta keep asking until you find what works there we go there we go rob thank you for sharing that man thank you for sharing that i i’m i’m hoping and i’m sure that we’ll encourage some people um just out there because i know everyone isn’t isn’t as vocal so you know uh somebody who who catches this in their in their earbuds or they see us on youtube um hoping that’s gonna add some value so so thank you for that my friend yeah i hope i i honestly like that’s the hardest part i really believe is with mental health is the asking and then when because like i’m i’ve been on 15 different medications i’ve tried a bunch of different therapies and therapists and i think like the hardest part is when you try something new and and it doesn’t work or it makes you worse and i think like continually asking until you find is i mean it’s a war but that’s i mean you have to do it if you want to get out that makes sense that that makes that makes a lot of sense that makes a lot of sense now on on on a lighter note on a little bit of a lighter note uh we’re going we’re going to transition into the two-minute drill and uh rob the two-minute drill and for everybody else out there you know this might be your first time listening the two minute drills where i’m gonna have rob on my ask a couple rapid fire questions and then i’m gonna let rob share with everybody where they can connect with him how they can find him and you know just follow and get connected so rob are you ready i’m ready let’s go all right all right and here we go favorite food pizza okay okay what’s uh what what’s your go-to streaming show of preference streaming show of preference oh that’s a hard one i think what are we what have we been watching lately we’re watching the circle right now oh i’ve been here yeah okay i need to check that out i need to check that out what’s what’s the last book you read the last book i read is called radical acceptance um it’s a really interesting therapy book with some elements of like mindfulness and buddhism okay okay okay well uh what’s your what’s your favorite podcast um my favorite podcast is this one no no no i don’t put this in here for people to say that i really put it so other people can hear you know what other people’s favorite podcasts are i’m trying to think actually so i like i’ve actually really liked a bit of optimism by simon sinek i think there’s a lot of elements that he’s my favorite leadership guru but there’s a lot of elements there that i love okay okay good deal and what’s what’s one tip that you would leave for a student athlete take your time one tip i would say it comes back to personal leadership it’s really understand yourself and then from on that understanding you’ll be able to really be intentional about your life and then the last question who’s one guest that you would like to see me interview on beyond the ball next lauren um yeah i mean i mean lauren would be an incredible guest she’s she’s really good another person that that i’ve been trying to get on my show has been haydenhurst so he’s a he’s an nfl tight end and he talks a lot about his struggles with mental health and i think he would be he’d be an incredible guest okay okay good deal excellent excellent well now i’m gonna kick it to you rob let people know where they can find you how they can follow you and and and get connected go ahead and do that this yeah no thanks i mean thanks john for having me definitely like i have two podcasts now so dismantling the high performance narrative is the one on mental health and performance i also host one called the leadership launchpad project both of those are available apple itunes stitcher google all these areas so definitely check those out if you’re interested if you want to check out our website you can go to highperformancenarrative.

com the leadership program’s on there the bios for lauren and i are on there you can get connected if you want us to speak or anything basically the only social media i use is linkedin so you can follow me there rob kalvaroski i’m connected with john so so definitely you can find me that way and i’d i’d love to love to chat with you excellent excellent well rob thank you again for for coming on for for sharing um being vulnerable and you know just just just being an amazing individual thank you no thanks for having me and and john we’ll have to we’ll have to get you back on on the other show and go deeper you know sure thing sure thing i’m open i’m open to all the ballers out there all the ballers listening i would encourage you all to connect be sure to connect with rob he’s really a great guy he’s been a faithful supporter of beyond the ball and i even had the opportunity to to hop on uh dismantling the high performance narrative uh with with him and his his co-host lauren who is also phenomenal like like they have a great show over there so you all definitely want to connect with them and you want to you definitely want to give their show a listen and before i let you all go you know i have to just encourage you all to make sure that you subscribe to beyond the ball uh we’re on apple of course and you can go on youtube and you can type in beyond the ball podcast with jonathan jones and i’ll pop up subscribe there and you’ll get you know be able to hear beyond the ball as well as other exclusive video content so once again uh thank you all for listening to beyond the ball i’m your host jonathan jones where we help you succeed beyond your degree what’s going on you.