The 1% Podcast

Tony Griffin


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    Tony Griffin

    A Life of Breakthroughs, Dreaming Big, Writing and Hurling


Tony Griffin is an athlete, charity activist, speaker and author.


He is a former All-Star hurler with Clare, retiring in 2009. After that he went on to extensive charity work. His work has included setting up his own charity, Ride for the Cure, and raised €1.1 million for cancer research and hospices.


Tony launched a sports management business called Sports Academy International – which organised triathlon races, adventure races, worked on the visit of Lance Armstrong to Dublin and travelled to New Zealand and won the rights to bring the 2011 Singlespeed Mountain Bike World Championships to Ireland.


After being inspired by the work of Dubliner Jim Stynes and Reach in Australia Tony set up SOAR, a collective movement aiming to inspire young people to chase their dreams and overcome their challenges. In 2010, he published an autobiography ‘Screaming at the Sky’ which was nominated for Irish Sports Book of the Year and the William Hill Sportsbook awards. Last year he released another book ‘The Teenager’s Book of Life’.


Join us as we discuss ‘the full athlete’, working with Lance Armstrong, gruelling bike rides, and how he is helping teenagers dream big.


Show Summary


03:01 The importance of hurling and sport growing up

  • Strong sense of community in Clare
  • Hurling was also a form of entertainment


09:15 Why Dublin hurlers are not more successful today

  • The team has completely changed – it takes time to develop
  • “Their day will come”
  • Football carries a big shadow in Dublin
  • Dublin’s first love is hurling
  • “When you win something big, confidence flourishes”


11:32 The decision to become an elite athlete

  • Titled Hurling’s first modern full-time hurler in 2006, and picked up an All-Star that season
  • Tony’s strong internal-drive as a child
  • He wanted to see how far he could go Hurling full-time


14:01 What Tony would have done differently if he started again

  • From Day One: work with a sports psychologist and personal trainer


16:30 Working towards a deeply desired goal 

  • Understand your ‘why’ – in Hurling, it’s more than just doing the sport
  • Work with a coach or mentor


19:43 Retiring from Hurling in 2009

  • Spent four years in Canada
  • There was so much else he wanted to do aside from Hurling
  • It was time to move on


28:17 2007 charity bike ride ‘Ride for the Cure’

  • Following the death of his father from lung cancer
  • Cycled 7,000km across Canada in his memory
  • Generated over €1.1 million for cancer research
  • In need of an adventure
  • Watched the documentary ‘Into the Wind’ about Terry Fox


34:41 On having met Lance Armstrong

  • First met him at a New Year’s Eve party
  • Tony raised money for the Livestrong charity
  • Lance being a very single-minded character
  • Be aware of hero worship


48:39 The influence from his mum on his outlook in life

  • Her fierce loyalty to her children
  • She puts judgement aside


50:46 Why he studied human performance

  • Inspired by a chiropractor who talked to the Clare team about nutrition
  • 4 year degree at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • He learnt a very holistic view of performance


56:02 Founded SOAR with Karl Swan in 2012

  • Inspired by Jim Stynes, the Australian Football legend
  • Overcoming depression in 2009


58:49 Having permission to dream

  • “Fear is such a powerful inhibitor of evolution”
  • The traditional education system hasn’t changed
  • We need to review what the skills are needed for the teenager of 2022 – they are different to what they were 50 years ago
  • “It’s a great life to live outside of fear”
  • Our dreams and desires will always change


01:11:43 The power of writing

  • It helps Tony see patterns
  • Writing is a “joy”
  • Being more deliberate with writing, and finding his process


01:16:22 Writing ‘The Teenager’s Book of Life’

  • His writing just “flowed out for 9 weeks”
  • You can’t please everyone
  • Self-awareness is the way in to yourself
  • Have a relationship with yourself


01:20:48 First steps into practising self-awareness

  • Know that we’re all doing our best
  • Befriend and accept your fears


01:25:07 The role of fear

  • Fear is such a nebulous concept
  • Our biggest fear is death – not just mortality, but our identities
  • “We are not who we think we are”
  • When we understand fear, we understand life
  • Identify worst case scenarios to pinpoint the underlying fear
  • “Fear is a great opportunity”


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