‘You will have highs, you will have lows, if you don’t give up, it will make the journey worthwhile.’ Giddeon Massie – Olympic athletes interviewed Episode 30

Giddeon Massie has participated in 2 Olympic Games and missed the participation of his third Olympic Games. Giddeon reflects on his career and outlines how his positive attitude has helped him to stay on track and keep moving forward.

Furthermore, we discuss

Christian: In this interview, I’m joined by Giddeon Massie. Giddeon is a double Olympian in Track Cycling and participated in the Olympic Games in 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing, He is considered as one of the most successful American Track Cyclists.

His achievements include first at the Pan American games in 2003, 13 national championships, keirin sprint, team sprint, and more than 20 national titles. Giddeon retired from professional cycling in 2013. He has taken on various projects as a coach and a mentor.

Welcome Gideon.

Giddeon: Thank you, Christian. Thanks. I’m excited to be here.

His darkest moment

Christian: Giddeon in your life as an athlete, what was your darkest moment?

Giddeon: I can’t really pinpoint a darkest moment. As an athlete you face challenges and you just figure it out and how to get through it. I wouldn’t qualify any point as dark. I think it’s just obviously the ups and downs that come with being an athlete and performing at a high level.

I wouldn’t qualify any point as dark. As an athlete you face challenges and you just figure it out and how to get through it.

You just take things as they come, and from past experiences, you grow and start to recognize that you’ve been in similar situations before. I think there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m a very positive person, so I always look towards the positives. I acknowledged that I’ve made the decision to do what I’ve done or be in a position I am, and to have the opportunities I have. I just hope towards a solution and then hopefully a good outcome.

Christian: That seems to be a common trend with professional athletes. They find something positive in the dark moments to overcome these dark moments. So, I thought it was quite interesting when you said you can’t pinpoint anything, and as an athlete, it’s quite normal.

If there are any setbacks in your life, how do you approach it?

Giddeon: I think sometimes it is important to take a step back. We get caught up in the details of everything. We sometimes need to take a step back and ask some questions. “What’s really happening? What’s the bigger picture when I think of the setback or the struggle at the time?”

I think we get lost in our own understanding of things and gaining an outside perspective from somebody that sees it differently or has a different clarity of the situation is helpful sometimes too.

  • Check out the interview with Ruben Lopez, where he explains that the outside perspective of his network helps him to overcome setbacks

Christian: Who do you go to for an outside perspective? Who’s in your network? Family? Coach? Friends?

Giddeon: I have a very small family. But my family is people that obviously would have a great influence on my life. I’m very fortunate to have my mom and dad present through the start of my career and through the end of it. So, I can say with full certainty, my family.

My faith is a big part of me as well. My belief in God and where he has me, that’s a huge part of where I look to for guidance. Ultimately, that positive approach and the outcome that hopefully is a good one as well.

Christian: That is interesting.

His best moment

Christian: What was your best moment?

Giddeon: I think my best moment would be the two Olympic experiences that I had and earning those spots on the team. They’re both special to me. It’s a great achievement, I think, for any athlete, particularly in cycling.

The two Olympic experiences that I had, and earning those spots on the team. They’re both special to me. It’s a great achievement.

As you’re well familiar, Christian, I think that is the pinnacle of our sport in many ways. As a young athlete, that’s what I strive for. So achieving that is one of the highlights of my career. There are many others as well, but that’s definitely, in the grand scheme of things. The Olympic Games is definitely up there at the top of your list of things that you set out to accomplish.

Christian: Which one of the experience sticks more in your head than the other? The first one or the second one?

Giddeon: They are both special. The first one, obviously, everything is new, you hear about it, you hear from other people, you’ve seen it on television and you’ve heard about others’ experiences. But then to be a part of it for yourself is very, very special. So it’s all brand new.

The second one, you know what to expect, even though there are some different aspects to it. I think they’re both special in their own right. I think after you’ve been to one, your perspective shifts. I thought about what I needed to do for the next four years to get to the next one. Because that’s the goal.

How do I put myself in a position to do that? There’s obviously no guarantees ever when it comes to that. You don’t get a free pass to the next one once you’ve done it. So, I think they’re both very, very special for different reasons.

Christian: You have mentioned belief before. Qualifying for your first Olympic Games, has it even increased your belief and confidence even more?

Giddeon: I think it becomes something, where you’re trying to find that pathway to what you need to do to make it happen. And I think when you have that ‘guide book’ in a sense, it becomes more of a tangible goal. So having been there, having achieved it, you start to understand what’s necessary to do it again.

When you have that ‘guide book’ in a sense, having been there, having achieved it, you start to understand what’s necessary to do it again.

Then you try to improve upon the results. So, that’s my perspective on that.

His advice to a younger Giddeon Massie

Christian: If you could go back in time, 10 or 15 years, what advice would you give your younger you?

Giddeon: It’s hard to say one thing. I think the first thing that comes to mind, is just to really enjoy the experience. Not to say that I didn’t, but take lots of pictures. I remember when I was young, people would always ask me about my age and what my goals were. They would comment on how young I was and how much time I had.

Really enjoy the experience.

Now, looking back, it’s like it went by so quickly. I’m just taking in the experience. I was never one to back down from the hard work or the dedication to it. That was something that came pretty naturally to me. But I think as an athlete, you’re hard on yourself sometimes. That can be good and it can be challenging as well.

  • Also check out the interview with Alex Corretja, where he outlines, that in retrospect, he would have liked to be less strict and hard on himself

You have to cherish the opportunities that you have to represent your country, the opportunity to show the work that you’ve put in. That would be something that immediately comes to mind, to tell my younger self. But you learn so much as you grow as an athlete and as a person that maybe those things don’t resonate as much when you’re younger, as they do when you’re older. But that’s why you asked the question I guess.

Cherish the opportunities that you have to represent your country, the opportunity to show the work that you’ve put in.

Christian: What comes back very often if I speak to high profile, high-performance athletes is that they say I should have enjoyed it more. I was too driven. I’m always wondering for one, whether once you were in that situation, whether you can really enjoy it that much.

And secondly, the fact of being driven gets you where you actually ended up. So I think it’s a double edge sword, in the sense of, that in retrospect, you can always say enjoy it more, but maybe the drive was what gets you to where you got to in the first place.

Giddeon: Yes, I agree. I think that it’s not that the enjoyment wasn’t there. It’s just different. There are unknowns, I think, that go with it. And there’s a newness to the experiences. Figuratively speaking, when you read to the end of the book, you recognize how much you’ve accomplished. This changes your outlook on it.

Figuratively speaking, when you read to the end of the book, you recognize how much you’ve accomplished.

In the beginning, you start to think that this is a stretched goal. You work towards it and hope it happens. But there’s no guarantee that it does. I had pursued other sports growing up and people had asked about other sports and I wondered if I had pursued those other sports if I would have gotten to the same level.

I would like to say yes, but I don’t know. These experiences in this sport, the sport that I chose, shaped me as a person and as an individual. There is a drive that comes from the success and the disappointments and the highs and the lows. If you don’t give up if you don’t quit on that, it really makes the journey worthwhile and it shapes you for future endeavors.

If you don’t give up, it really makes the journey worthwhile and shapes you for future endeavors.

His success habits

Christian: What do you think are the habits that make you a successful athlete and person?

Giddeon: My persistence, my drive and my positivity towards the situation. I think that I love challenges. Those are things that motivate me. I don’t see impossibilities, I just see opportunities. That’s how I look at it.

 I don’t see impossibilities, I just see opportunities.

Christian: You said you have a positive outlook. But sometimes we face challenges in life and get caught up with the negativity of things. How specifically do you make sure that you’re not getting caught up in negativity?

Giddeon: Yes, that’s a great question. I think a lot of it is, the people that you surround yourself with. You want to surround yourself with people that have a similar mindset and have a similar drive. I think that you want people that, iron sharpens iron type of scenario, and you just keep that standard very high.

You want to surround yourself with people that have a similar mindset and have a similar drive. Iron sharpens iron.

They hold you accountable and you hold them accountable. That’s a piece to it. I would come back again to my faith. I believe that God’s given me talents, abilities, and gifts. It’s my job to take them to as far as I can, as long as I have that opportunity to do so. Those are things that I would point to and definitely that group that you have around you because you get to pick.

You have a choice in the matter. There are many things that you don’t have a choice in, such as where you’re born or who your parents are. The decisions that we make each and every day from the moment we get up in the morning to the moment that we go to sleep at night. You have a say in the matter.

God has given me talents, abilities, and gifts. It’s my job to take them to as far as I can, as long as I have that opportunity to do so.

Christian: I liked the one, “iron sharpens iron”. There’s also that saying, “You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with”.

Now a difficult question. Did you have to get rid of some of your friends in order to surround yourself with people that are more similar to you and more ambitious, maybe?

Giddeon: Yes, I think the sifting process kind of happens on its own to a degree. I wasn’t necessarily writing a note to tell them that it was great knowing them and that they are holding me back. I think it’s something where you start to recognize the people that you spend time with that matters. You make a conscious decision about who you choose to surround yourself with.

You should also make a conscious decision about your character and who others believe you to be. From a young age, my parents were always intentional about telling me to choose my friends wisely. Sometimes that means making hard decisions. But at the end of the day, you have to take ownership and responsibility.

You make a conscious decision about who you choose to surround yourself with. Sometimes that means making hard decisions.

If you see somebody else that’s taking you off that track or has different motives or just is lazy or anything like that, it’s like why lower your standard? Why make a decision to go with that. I prefer the non-traditional route. I prefer the hard thing rather than the easy thing, not hitting your head against the wall type of thing.

I want to understand why you did it this way when you could do it this way. It requires a little bit more work, but that’s what sets you apart. That’s the rewarding part of it. Maybe it doesn’t work out in the end, but you know, so what?

Christian: You said if it doesn’t work out, so what? Are you saying you will not regret the things you did rather the things you haven’t tried?

Giddeon: Yes. I think there’s a risk, right? If you’re knocking down the goals you’re setting for yourself like bowling pins and everything’s working out, then you have to ask if you’re setting your goals high enough? I don’t think you set yourself up for failure and disappointment every time. Then you’d most likely just be discouraged and frustrated all the time.

If you’re knocking down the goals you’re setting for yourself like bowling pins and everything’s working out, then you have to ask if you’re setting your goals high enough?

But you have to take some chances and kind of stretch yourself a little bit. You have to get out of your comfort zone. I don’t have a fear of failing or what somebody says. I think, perhaps, that’s an extension of what I’ve learned through my years as an athlete. But it doesn’t bother me. I would rather try and see if it’s possible than not give it a shot at all.

I think, obviously, I’m never probably going to be an astronaut and go to the moon. You have to balance what you’re good at and be sensible about that. But if it’s something that’s within your wheelhouse, then you go.

We have a mind that we can learn and we can learn from other people and research and do things. If you decide that’s what you want to do, then figure it out, make the effort. Like I said, sometimes it doesn’t work out as you intended to, but you find some great things out about yourself along the way and some great opportunities along the way as well.

Christian: That fits in very well with the note that I’ve taken that I wanted to ask you about. I read it on your profile, and maybe I’m paraphrasing a bit. “I understand what it takes to wake up every morning with intention and purpose. It’s not enough to begin with a problem and develop a plan that leads to a solution. You have to take action. A sport at the Olympic level has fostered in me the determination and dedication to achieve success.”

You have been a high-level athlete, and you have taken that approach into your professional work life now?

Giddeon: Yes. So real estate, which I’m doing now, it’s a very entrepreneurial type of endeavor. You do a lot of things yourself and I think that I can relate to what that looks like. And I tell people often that real estate is something where you learn as much as you can, you work as much as you’re willing to work and you just get better at it.

Sometimes you have successes, sometimes you don’t, so that resonates with me. I like that. There are other aspects of it that I enjoy as well. I have a mentor in the business and I ask a lot of questions. I do like to know as much as I can before I get into something. But sometimes at a certain point you just have to do it and then learn from that.

  • Also check out the interviews with Dan Baker and Jorden Bres, who advocate asking a lot of questions to mentors or people you aspire to be like.

I liked that about it. I can take my athletic perspectives and put them into the real estate endeavor and the business world. There’s obviously a relational aspect to it as well that comes into play, but that’s where I see a unique transition into a different space.

His morning routine

Christian: Interesting. You mentioned wake up with intention and purpose. Do you have a morning routine as an athlete or even nowadays? How do you get ready for the day?

Giddeon: This is something I tell people often and I try to do it myself. The first thing many people do in the morning is wake up, roll over and look to the phone. I’m guilty of it, because I do it, hopefully not as often as I used to anymore. It’s what’s on social media. You go through those things and then you’re immediately inundated with the news of the day and the social media aspect. I think that isn’t always a fair representation of how to begin the day. It’s often very negative and it kind of sets the tone for your day.

So for me, I try to be conscious about what I’m feeding my mind with. I try to be conscious and intentional about starting my devotions in the morning. This sets the stage for the next step. What I will be faced with today? What are the challenges that I have? What’s on my schedule? So that would be first and foremost.

I try to be conscious and intentional about starting my devotions in the morning. This sets the stage for the next step.

I’m not a morning person. I’m much definitely an evening person, but I try to be good about that. I have a routine. I typically eat the same thing for breakfast usually each day and that’s just me. It’s just how I operate. There’s a couple of days a week that I coach, so I get up early to do that and then I’m on the way to coaching.

But I also do my work and things. As a routine now, I’m starting my morning with something that I can control, which is usually, my devotions and then getting it off into things. I like the politics and current events and things like that, so I try to keep up on those things from that standpoint. And then I’m off into the work for the day. Sometimes it’s coaching, sometimes it’s real estate.

I’m still very active, so I enjoy, whether it’s on a bike or in the gym. I typically do those later at night. When I was training, there was a period of time where I would get up and it would be a very, very early morning type of workout, activation type of workout before getting into the workout for the day. So whether it be a road ride or rollers or something of that nature before actually going to the training session. It just depended on the day.

I’ll tell you, being an athlete, there’s nothing like it. I don’t care what anybody tells you, you’ve got so much time on your hands to do things. And obviously, a part of being an athlete at that level is resting and staying off your feet and stuff like that. But when you transition, then you get busy. Life comes at you pretty quickly then.

Christian: Yes, I guess I can see it in myself. Being intentional about your morning, did you have that as an athlete yourself or is that something that you develop later?

Giddeon: No, I think I had that. I think being intentional, being purposeful, you don’t do things just to do them. You have a purpose behind them. I think if you can do that with the small things, particularly in the morning when you start the day, then you can take that and you can set the tone for the rest of your day. And you can take that into other aspects of your life for the day and beyond. So it’s the simple things.

You don’t do things just to do them. You have a purpose behind them. Do the small things with excellence, even if nobody else is watching.

I’m a big believer in doing the small things with excellence and doing them even if nobody else is watching. I am doing them because they deserve the attention and focus. As an athlete, I think I had talent, but things never necessarily came easy for me. I had to work very hard for them. So I would really try to do the things that people didn’t want to do or didn’t see a value in. That made the difference for me from a mental standpoint.

In addition, from the whole package standpoint, trying to be the better person, a better athlete, because those were all within my control. Those are the things that can make a difference. And like I said, it’s not necessarily a direct physical correlation all the time. If there’s a mental peace to it, that gives you the advantage on the day when it matters the most. That’s huge. And I know you know that as well.

But other people, they just overlook that or they don’t see the value in it. They don’t see the importance in it. That’s fine, but those are things that are just laying around for you to take advantage of it, and I want to do those things. So I get up in the morning, I make my bed. I always do that because, again, that’s a small thing, but nobody sees that. But you know, for me it’s taking that 30 seconds to do that. It’s the attention to detail and the purpose behind it and then you take that into everything else. That’s my approach.

Christian: They always compare the small things with the compound interest, right? You don’t see it immediately, but later down the road, you see exponential returns.

How to prepare for important moments

Christian: How do you prepare yourself for important moments?

Giddeon: I think finding out as much about the important moment as you can before you get there is helpful. I like to know as much as possible beforehand. That’s not always possible. So yes, preparation. I’m a big one on preparation.

I like to know as much as possible beforehand. I’m a big one on preparation.

I go through things in my mind, sometimes too much so I think. But I’m going through scenarios, you have conversations throughout the day and I revisit those conversations that I’ve had and I’m thinking about the things, that I should have said or should have done. I am constantly thinking and preparing.

That’s how I prepare. That’s how I approached the important situations- preparing as best as I can. Obviously, I think there are some things you can’t prepare for specifically. But somewhere along the lines, you’ve done something that may be similar to that. In effect, you have prepared for a situation.

Christian: And as an athlete, so you’re at your first Olympic Games and you’re getting pushed into the velodrome and you’ll get to the start line and you know, now is the moment you worked for so long, and if you mess it up, you have to wait another four years. How do you prepare for these moments?

Giddeon: I think in training, I think in my mind. I think the sports psychology aspect of what we do is massive. As a young athlete, it’s much different than an older, experienced athlete. As a new athlete, everything’s new. It’s exciting and it’s new. You’re not sure what the outcome is going to be necessary.

As an experienced athlete, you’ve been there and those expectations start to creep in. If you’re not careful, it just changes your perspective.  So for me being pushed up, the Olympic Games first time, it was just fun. My family was there. It was that Athens track that I had raced on at Junior World Championships, four or five years prior to that.

So it was the same track, but they put a roof over it. It was like coming full circle. It felt really special. I knew I had worked hard to get here. And now I get to represent my country and just showcase the hard work that we put in. I think it was just the energy, the excitement. I loved it all.

How to overcome setbacks

Christian: We spoke about this before and I’ve written down a note here. You were shortlisted for the Olympic Games in 2012, but you ended up not going. I couldn’t find information about what happened, but it sounds like it has been a setback for you. How do you overcome setbacks when things don’t go your way?

Giddeon: Yeah. I had my sights set on 2012 when I made the team. I had doubts if I would make the team, but I did. As I said, there’s never any guarantees, but you work and approach it as if you’re going to get there. In 2012, I think I was even better than I was in the years before. It was just a case of I wasn’t the fastest guy on the day that mattered. I think I was second or third in the line-up. We had only qualified for one position for the men in the sprint, so that made it hard.

I wasn’t the fastest guy on the day that mattered.

So I think they sent the best guy. That was a disappointment because that’s eight years of being involved in and like being on the inside of everything that’s taking place with the Olympics. This time I was on the outside watching. I had an understanding of all of the emotions and all the experience that was taking place for the athletes that are there competing.

I had a chance to catch up with some friends from the Australian team. They came in to do final preparation in Los Angeles and I spent some time with them and I talked to one of the riders there that had been selected to go to the Games, but not compete. We were talking about that. It’s so difficult because you pour so much into it, but then you don’t have the opportunity to get out there and go to battle.

It’s so difficult because you pour so much into it, but then you don’t have the opportunity to get out there and go to battle.

That was hard. That was an experience that I had not found myself in before. So that was difficult. I thought I did the best I could to be as prepared as I could be for that. And I just wasn’t the person on my day, so I can accept that. Would I have liked to have a second and third and fourth and fifth opportunity if that was presented? Yes.

Because I’m the type of person that I don’t care if you beat me one time, I will come back and it’ll be a brand new scenario. That outcome has yet to be determined and I’ll approach it like that. That’s just my mentality. I don’t care who or what or anything, because I believe in the work that I put in and I’m just going to continue to do it until I can’t anymore. That was a new challenge that I had to face. I held my head up and supported our guys and girls and that was that.

Christian: How did you overcome the challenge?

Giddeon: I think you just look forward. You accept that it’s a tough thing, but then you look ahead. You look at it and ask some questions. What you can learn from it? What are the positives? What are the takeaways? What’s that next thing?” You can only just sit there and soak in that for so long. You have to move forward. You have to look towards the next thing.

His role model

Christian: Who’s your role model and why?

Giddeon: I would go back to my parents. I think my parents, my dad, just their faith, their knowledge, the perspective, they’re an integral part of who I am. There are athletes of course that have a competitive nature and drive and approach towards things.

I enjoy analyzing what makes them successful and do what they do. So there are the likes of Michael Jordan’s and the top, top people. What makes them? What drives them?

A typical training day in the life of a professional track cyclist 

Christian: In your professional life as an athlete, what did a typical training day look like?

Giddeon: It just depends on, if I had track training, road cycling or gym. Or even a little bit of all three or ergometer on the day. I think the busiest days were the ones, when we would wake up in the morning, do rollers, breakfast, ride to the track, train on the track, come back, ride back from the track, have lunch, quick nap, ergo session or gym session and then some type of PT or some physio at the end of the day. That would be a big day for me.

Wake up in the morning, do rollers, breakfast, ride to the track, train on the track, ride back from the track, have lunch, a quick nap, ergo session or gym session and then some type of physio at the end of the day.

I trained under different coaches. I had coaches, were you were just happy to get through the day, it was so much volume. And I trained under coaches where you were like “Are you sure we’re doing enough?” So I’ve had the benefit of the experience of both of those. But yes, I’d say a typical training day would be on the track or road, or ergo and then gym and then some physio work somewhere in there as well.

His own coaching philosophy

Christian: And what approach have you taken from your coaches into your own work as a coach?

Giddeon: Getting to know the athletes. I think as an athlete, there are certain coaches you resonate with. Getting to know your athletes. What motivates them? Try not to put your athletes’ drives and approaches too much on them.

Getting to know your athletes. Try not to put your athletes’ drives and approaches too much on them.

In other cases, you have to be honest with them and tell them what they need to hear. So I think that’s a key piece. It’s just being able to recognize what your athletes need and know when to push and when to just back off.

His interview nomination

Christian: Do you want to nominate someone to be interviewed?

Giddeon: Have you interviewed Christian Taylor?

Christian: He’s next up.

Giddeon: Okay. He’s an amazing guy. I think Christian is a great one.

One of my closest friends over the years was a speed skater Apolo Ohno. We became friends years ago. He would be an amazing one. He’s very busy, so you’d have to figure that one out.

He’s the most decorated Winter Olympian that we have in short track speed skating. He’s a really, really solid guy and somebody that I speak and think very fondly of.

Where can you find Giddeon Massie

Christian: Where can people find you?

Giddeon: I am on social media, I’m on

Instagram and I also have an Instagram for my real estate.

Facebook

I’d say, I spend the most time on Instagram.

Giddeon’s new veture as a realtor

Christian: Just out of interest, the Instagram channel you’re using for your realtor activities? Has it helped with client acquisition?

Giddeon: It’s still growing. I like to say that it can’t hurt. I like being able to showcase my personality through it. I’m acutely aware that in the business many people do the same thing. So I’m just trying to figure out that place that space that I’m in where it’s a little bit different. But I think that social media is a big part of our industry now and it is growing.

There’s a lot of young people in the business now and they’re looking to capitalize on that. So I look for just an authenticity about it and not just like everybody else. So that’s kind of my space that I’m just looking to spend a little bit more time in and grow. So, has it been beneficial? I don’t think it’s hurt. I think at some stage, yes. Even if I get one person from that, specifically then, I’m happy with that. But I’ll continue to grow it and I think just share a little bit of a personal side too to me. Hopefully in some senses. I’m still kind of navigating what I want to– How that’s received and what I’m trying to promote.

Christian: I guess that’s what we spoke about before, right? It’s this compound interest. So you might not see it now, but maybe it will show in the future.

Giddeon: Yes, that’s right. Where do you find the value? Time is important, right? We all have the same amount of time in the day. Where are you placed at that time? And figuring out the best use of that time.

Christian: Gideon, thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Giddeon: Awesome. My pleasure. I’m so pleased to finally get this up and I follow you on Instagram and your website. So I’m excited to see what you guys are doing and also learn from you because I’m always interested to see what you’re writing and what you’re doing. So that’s awesome. I love that.

Christian: Thanks.

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