Determining your own destiny

Siri Lindley on fear, failure and finding fulfillment in life

Where do you go from failure? The most successful people in the world have recorded massive failures, and, for many of them, failure was the greatest influence in their ascent to greatness. 


It comes down to perspective failure is only the end if you choose to see it that way. We all have the power to choose. We can’t control events, but we can choose what to focus on, we can choose what those events mean and we can choose what to do now. These three decisions control our lives. So it is not the conditions of our lives, but rather the decisions that determine our destiny. 

In this episode of the Tony Robbins Podcast, hosts Tony Robbins and Mary Buckheit speak to their friend and hero, Siri Lindley, about how to shift your focus to being true to yourself, bouncing back from defeat and embracing who you are. Siri opens up about fear, suffering, recruiting, training, triathlons, coaching and love. She explains to Tony and Mary how these life challenges ultimately became her greatest gifts. 

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Who is Siri Lindley? 

Siri Lindley is a former two-time ITU World Champion, who is in the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame. She is a Brown University graduate, and has coached field hockey and lacrosse at Ivy League schools. In her coaching career, Siri has helped a number of Olympic and Ironman athletes win championships, including Mirinda Carfrae. 

Siri is unique. Most people train for sports their whole lives. Siri didn’t get her start until age 23. She got through college before deciding she wanted to master not just one sport, but three – swimming, biking and running. She says she could barely swim and had no technique. Her first competition was a disaster. But nothing could stop her from becoming a champion.

The hunger that drives success 

What’s the one thing that differentiates successful people? Hunger. Intelligence is valuable. Physical strength and skill are valuable. Ideas are valuable. But they are not enough. It’s hunger that drives you. It’s hunger that makes you keep going when you fail, over and over again. It’s hunger that allows you to back up your affirmation with discipline. 

But where does hunger come from? 

Siri explains how she never felt like she truly belonged. She never had confidence. She was living her life from a place of fear. She self-sabotaged. Yet she believed there was a better way. Ultimately, she says, “I wanted something different from the way that I felt.” And she knew that the only person who could give her that, was herself. 

The decision to be great 

Siri made a choice: she didn’t want to feel bad anymore. She didn’t want to just manage her circumstances – she wanted to be the creator of her life. She wanted to live from a place of love, not fear. She wanted to be happy. To do that, she needed to challenge herself to be the best. To push through the pain, overcome the fear and turn her obstacles into opportunities. 

Her journey didn’t stop at becoming the best triathlete in the world. Listen to the podcast to learn more about how she mastered not only the science of achievement, but the art of fulfillment – and how she finally not only accepted her true self, but found extraordinary love. 

Siri echoes the powerful Michelangelo quote, “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set it free.” Here, Siri and Tony help us to understand that to be truly great at anything, you must always start with yourself.


[00:00] Tony Robbins on hunger, drive, and emotional strength
[05:30] Introduction to Mary B
[06:00] An introduction to Siri Lindley
[11:20] The allure of a triathlon
[11:40] Team sports vs. individual competition
[12:20] Starting out (“I couldn’t swim.”)
[13:28] Siri’s first triathlon (“I was a disaster”)
[16:30] Failure either destroys you or drives you
[17:50] Where does the hunger comes from?
[19:00] Desperate to feel good; wanting to like herself
[20:00] Keeping the fear at bay
[22:00] From “crappy” to World No. 1
[24:00] Lesson: “You as a human being are far more important than you as an athlete”
[25:15] Coach Brett Sutton gets into the mind of the athlete
[26:00] Olympic trials 2000
[28:00] No excuses: “I choked.”
[29:55] “Impossible” training in Switzerland
[30:50] Tony on Wantrepreneur vs. Entrepreneur
[31:45] Training in Converse and travel clothes…in the Alps
[34:00] “Jane supposedly sucks”…and she kicked my butt
[35:50] Mom: “If you can’t hack it, come home.”
[36:20] Everyday he was scaring me to death. It was brilliant.
[37:20] Tony: “A belief is a poor substitute for experience … your coach gave you an experience.”
[38:12] Champion mentality, self-sabotage, bad patterns, doubt, commitment
[39:11] TR on the psychology of extraordinary athletes
[39:35] Recruitment: “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set it free.”
[40:25] Why failure can actually set you up for success
[41:15] Tony Robbins on facing your fears and the analogy of sports
[42:25] Why recruit 42nd place?
[43:08] Be better than you were yesterday
[43:54] Appreciation for the everyday
[46:00] A manager’s right to be picky
[46:25] Tony Robbins: I hate the term self-esteem; the only way to get inner pride is to earn it
[47:00] Coach John Wooden’s definition of victory
[48:45] We alone are the creators of our life
[49:05] Mary B: Accountability, junk miles, purpose, and the human factor
[50:13] Tony Robbins on humility and the human factor
[51:07] Siri’s ultimate fulfillment, and reading Tony’s books
[51:44] Life after competition
[52:35] I could have retired after I won my first world championship…but I didn’t want to be a fluke
[53:02] An athlete puts their dream into a coach’s hands
[54:45] As an athlete, I hadn’t accepted who I was fully…I came out after I retired from the sport
[55:10] Siri falls in love
[56:00] “Love messes with anything you’ve learned before.”
[58:30] Siri Lindley and Rebekah Keat
[59:25] Taking care of myself makes me a better coach
[1:00:45] What makes Siri’s life story the classic fairytale
[1:02:10] Siri’s gratitude
[1:03:25] Siri’s advice: Be brave. Be relentless. Look how far you’ve come.
[1:05:21] The gap between where you are and where you want to be
[1:06:27] The Science of Achievement vs. The Art of Fulfillment
[1:08:18] The female college athletes curse…now what?
[1:09:13] USA Lacrosse cut/extreme disappointment
[1:10:23] There’s nothing worse than starting something and not finishing
[1:11:30] We all find our path
[1:12:06] How a sponsorship changed her life’s direction
[1:15:36] Basing a life’s identity on others’ expectations
[1:17:15] The world champion had no sponsors
[1:17:58] The lasting effect of an image you’re not
[1:18:42] The ultimate success: being who you really are
[1:19:20] Mary B on coming out and limiting beliefs
[1:20:30] Being true to who you are allows you to give all of yourself to others
[1:21:20] The Ellen Degeneres effect
[1:23:35] Unleash the power within
[1:24:40] Tony: “It’s hard to love yourself when you’re not being yourself”
[1:25:00] Freeing yourself of limitations can rejuvenate and revitalize you
[1:28:15] Tony’s goodbye
[1:30:33] Unleash The Power Within 2016: San Jose (November 10-13)

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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