The 1% Podcast

Paul Gleeson


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    Paul Gleeson

    His expedition stories across the world, mental fortitude and well-being The 1% Podcast


My guest today is Paul Gleeson.

Paul is an performance coach, part time adventurer, public speaker and founder of Turas consulting. He has cycled coast to coast across Australia, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and has also rowed through the North West Passage in the Canadian High Arctic. Author of the book “Crossing the Swell”, he was honoured by his hometown as Limerick Person of the Year in 2006.

In this episode, we deep dive into some of Paul’s experiences on his many expeditions, we talk about mental fortitude, mindset, and his current work with Turas Consulting.




Show Summary


1:15 Introducing Paul Gleeson and his major accomplishments


2:00 Paul’s background and upbringing

  • His childhood in Limerick
  • How his own outlook was shaped by his parents’ core beliefs
  • His mother’s motto: There is no such thing as «  can’t  »


5:00 Paul’s past in the world of finance

  • How he knew early on that finance wasn’t his passion
  • Living and working in wealth management in Canada
  • The effect that early adventure trips had on his desire for more


7:00 The power of language

  • Alternatives to the word “quit” and “failure”
  • Ciarán Kilkenny’s “weak foot” as an example of the power of words


9:00 Body/mind connections

  • Muscle memory and the brain’s response to practised behaviours
  • The power of visualization
  • The connection between brain, heart and gut
  • The importance of listening to your «  gut  » and getting out of your head


12:45 Inspirational books

  • “Unsung Hero” by Tom Crean
  • “It’s Not About the Bike” by Lance Armstrong
  • Paul’s inspiration to cycle from Limerick to Dublin
  • About Tom Crean’s book: “It just ignited something in me”


14:45 Paul’s first big trip: cycling across Australia

  • On long endurance trips: “The body will follow the mind”
  • Cycling as a wonderful, slow way to discover a place
  • His questionable adventures with Nullarbor Plain locals
  • Finishing the race on an undersized borrowed bike after an accident


20:35 The Talisker Atlantic Row

  • Rowing with Tori Holmes from the Canary islands to the Caribbean
  • Taking this on as non-rowers: “Learning how to row isn’t that hard”
  • “Choose who you listen to”: their relationship with Eamonn and Peter Kavanagh, the only Irish rowers to have participated in the race
  • The physical challenges of the first training day
  • The importance of “mental toughness”


24:40 The departure

  • Eamonn and Peter Kavanagh’s show of faith in their crossing


27:00 Ocean conditions on the Atlantic

  • Dealing with 30-60 ft waves
  • The challenge of being alone for months
  • Working in 2h shifts for 24 hours, leading to sleep deprivation and hallucination
  • Rowing nude to avoid chafing and sores
  • Breaking things down “hour by hour, day by day”
  • How it feels to lose sight of land


30:35 Keeping their spirits up

  • On hard days, reading letters written by friends and family


33:00 The impact of the trip

  • How this challenge changed his perspective and outlook on life


35:10 Changing your life

  • “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bonnie Ware
  • How to form new habits quickly
  • How crisis can bring about change
  • Why change requires connecting to sense of urgency
  • Conscious decision-making
  • Being aware of how little time we have left to live


40:14 The 3rd person on the boat

  • The eerie feeling that someone else was with them on the boat
  • Closeness to death and fear of frequent hurricanes and tropical storms


44:15 The beauty of the ocean

  • Their rare wildlife sightings
  • Being “in the moment”
  • Their fear of sharks


48:05 Turas Consulting

  • Why Paul chose the name Turas
  • Paul’s job as a performance coach and facilitator
  • The importance of each individual in the team: “Everyone’s on a journey”
  • Physically experiencing what it means to work together


50:43 Immersive learning

  • Paul’s partnership with AIP Group
  • Defining adventure-based learning
  • “Something always goes wrong” : how adventure can enhance leadership behaviour
  • Why emotional engagement leads to retaining more information
  • Learning how to use guiding principles and values to make decisions


55:25 Learning by doing

  • The long-term effects of this type of learning
  • Paul’s role in ensuring accountability and providing support for behavioural changes
  • The importance of having a strong sense of purpose as a company and an individual


58:00 Purpose

  • Simon Sinek’s writings on purpose
  • Purpose as one of the building blocks to grit


58:48 Changes seen in teams

  • The lack of human connection in virtual teams
  • Understanding your teammates’ behaviour by getting to know them as individuals


1:00:58 Reaching your potential

  • How competition forces you to push yourself
  • Connecting to reasons and motivation for doing what you do
  • For Paul, moments of innovation often happen outside, near water, while in motion


1:04:41 Love conquers fear

  • How loving someone will make you want what’s best for them and will push them to do more


1:06:05 Emotional and mental health

  • The effect of the environment on mindset
  • The importance of daily care of emotional and mental health
  • Distinguishing between our macro environment (which we have no control over) and our micro environment (which we can control)
  • The effect of poor relationships on our life


1:08:44 Priming tools

  • How our subconscious is always being primed
  • Integrating “trigger words” in our environment
  • Mauricio Estrella’s simple computer password trick to develop new habits
  • Vision boards, setting intentions, and gratitude exercises
  • The power of our subconscious


1:12:46 Digital + interactive technology

  • Our shrinking attention and focus levels
  • Taking responsibility for our use of technology
  • The value of smartphone breaks


1:15:17 Connecting with nature

  • The logic behind prescribing nature walks for mental health
  • Camping trips as a way to connect to nature and experience quiet


1:17:40 Studies in psychology

  • Paul’s interest in positive psychology
  • Martin Seligman’s contribution to the field
  • The misrepresentations of positive psychology
  • The importance of taking ownership and being proactive in one’s own life
  • Why the term “wellbeing” means very little


1:21:08 Rowing through the Northwest Passage

  • One of the last human “firsts”
  • Paul’s meeting with Kevin Vallely
  • The changes in ice conditions caused by climate change


1:23:21 Preparing for the Northwest Passage

  • Building a custom rowing boat that could withstand the Arctic conditions
  • The many challenges specific to this location and climate
  • Rowing in poorly-charted waters
  • The different levels of experience in their party of 4


1:27:07 Outside navigators

  • The fans and followers providing them with regular ice and weather forecasts


1:29:34 The impact of climate change

  • What they learned from speaking to local elders
  • Observing a changing ocean and new animal species


1:32:06 The status of today’s sea ice

  • The significant decrease in sea ice
  • Why climate change denial is not to be taken seriously
  • Questioning our lack of action in the face of climate change
  • “My fear is that history will judge us as the generation who did nothing about it”


1:35:30 The economic impact of climate change

  • How climate change can also bring opportunity
  • Why our lack of connection to nature may lead to a lack of care for the planet
  • Following the Celtic calendar to connect to seasonal rituals and phases


1:38:50 Fear

  • The different levels of fear: physical fear, fear of judgment, fear of failure
  • How we can change our relationship to fear
  • The acronym Paul uses for FEAR: Fuel that can Energize you to Achieve Results
  • The importance of finding the reason behind the fear
  • Paul’s biggest fear


1:41:06 Impending fatherhood

  • The potential impact of fatherhood on Paul’s relationship with adventure
  • Planning trips as a family


1:43:40 Advice to young people

  • Listen to your heart and follow your values