In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

The greatest athletes, inventors, artists and minds have something in common… 

Of course they all have incredible work ethics, support systems and above average talent and luck- but those qualities don’t differentiate the great from the very best. 

In truth- there is no template for world class performance. So what is it that separates them? 

According to our guest, Gabe Polsky- an award-winning Writer, Director, Producer and one of the top documentary filmmakers in the world of sports and beyond- the one attribute that separates the elite from the great is their creativity, improvisation and ability to turn disadvantage into strength.

How does he know? In 2018 Gabe wrote, directed, and produced In Search of Greatness— a cinematic journey into the secrets of genius, as told through the greatest athletes of all time. It was released theatrically to critical acclaim and was nominated for several awards, including a WGA Award. 

He also Executive Produced Genius, the 10 time Emmy® nominated TV show on National Geographic about Albert Einstein in 2017. Most recently, Gabe wrote, directed, and produced the feature documentary Red Penguins which premiered to acclaim at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

In this episode, we learn what it’s like to interview and direct the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Jerry Rice and Pelé and why he’d go so far as to compare their dedication to the craft as neurosis. 

Connect with Gabe: 

Via Twitter: @gabepolsky 

Via IMDb:

Interested in learning about the film?

Watch here:

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Guys, one last thing. If you’re in search of truly superior nutrition supplements- from the very basics to elite performance products- check out our sponsor Momentous. They’ve been with us since the beginning and they are the ONLY nutritional supplement product I work with. Code BRETT15 gets you 15% off!


Brett Bartholomew  0:09  

Hey everybody, Brett here. And if I can, I’d like to ask you a quick favor. If you’ve gotten any value whatsoever out of our podcast, even just one episode, please consider leaving a review in the Apple podcast app. Anybody that’s been to a mom and pop restaurant or a small business on Main Street knows the importance of reviews and word of mouth. And we’re no different. We don’t have a huge marketing engine. We are not run or produced by some kind of major corporation, we do this ourselves. And so we’re really grateful for any kind of support whatsoever. If you don’t have an Apple device, please just tell a friend or two about the show, we’d be greatly appreciative.


Welcome to the Art of coaching podcast, a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew. I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker and the author of the book conscious coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior and communication. I want to thank you for joining me and now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Alright, everybody, our guest today Gabe Polsky. Now game is an award winning writer, director and producer who has emerged as one of the top documentary filmmakers in the world of sports and beyond. Most recently, Gabe has written and directed and produced a feature documentary called The Red penguins which premiered to acclaim at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Pete Hammond of deadline called it a remarkable and funny documentary. That seems right for entry in this year’s Oscar race, Universal Pictures the Goliath that it is released the film in August of 2022 widespread audience and critical acclaim even during the pandemic. In 2018, Polsky wrote, directed and produced in search of greatness, the primary film we talked about today, it is a cinematic journey into the secrets of genius, as sold to the greatest athletes of all time. It was released theatrically to critical acclaim, and was nominated for several awards, including a WGA award in 2017. As if all this wasn’t enough, gave executive producer genius the top 10 Emmy nominated TV show on National Geographic about Albert Einstein, he and his brother Alan acquired the rights to the Albert Einstein estate, and the best selling Walter Isaacson biography which became the bedrock of this series. One of the things that makes this conversation so great is as somebody that appreciates the art of coaching, I understand that creativity and improvisation and all these things are a critical part of what makes somebody great. You cannot create a template for world class performance people have tried and it fails. Individuality is not something that should be demonized. And for Gabe to be able to go in deep and talk to the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky and Jerry Rice is truly remarkable, because you’re able to pick up insights that you could tell your kids if you’re a parent, you could tell your team if you are a coach, you could tell your team if you are a business leader, this is applicable to everything. I promise you if you think outside the box, and you have a creative bone in your body whatsoever as it pertains to how you solve problems, and how you look to adapt in times of high stress or chaos. This will resonate with you so without further ado, Gabe Polsky.


All right here we are another episode of The Art of coaching podcast. I am here with Gabe Polsky. Gabe, welcome to the show.


Gabe Polsky  4:22  

It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. 


Brett Bartholomew  4:25  

Hey, it’s my pleasure. It is not every day that you get to say, hey, we have somebody on that wrote, directed and produced really this unique cinematic journey that dives into the secrets of greatness. Right. And I know that you’re humble just from talking off screen a little bit. But you know, this is something that had critical acclaim, you know, nominated for several awards, the WGA award, right? You’ve also produced genius, a 10 time Emmy nominated show on National Geographic about Albert Einstein you’re not the usual guests, brother, so I’m happy to have you.


Gabe Polsky  4:56  

Well, I’m happy to do this. I share a lot of kind of You know, similar thinking as you do on the show and you know, I think about a lot of this stuff. So


Brett Bartholomew  5:07  

here’s what was funny and in this gives our listeners unique insight into this. So the very first time I saw in search of greatness was on a plane. And ironically, we were going to host a workshop that was about the importance of utilizing improv in coaching. And I remember at that time, I had gotten a lot of people that looked at me like, What are you doing, because typically I had taught on agility, and strength and conditioning and everything else. And now here we are utilizing improv and constraints and these workshops, to try to help coaches and leaders overcome stuff. And so admittedly, your movie was a little bit of confirmation bias, because as I’m sitting here, second guessing myself, I’m hearing Wayne Gretzky, I’m listening to all these different folks talk about how they had to improvise continually throughout their career to overcome these these limitations. And I guess what I’m wondering is what inspired you to create something like that, when creativity is so often looked down upon? When people think of the world’s best, right, we think that the higher up you get, you got to get more rigid, you took a completely different approach?


Gabe Polsky  6:13  

Yeah, well, I think you kind of hit the nail on the head in that, I believe that the essence of great performance and sport itself is improvisation. It’s spontaneity. That’s the reason why sports exists. If we knew what would happen at the end, and you know, everything was sort of predetermined, there would be no fun in it. So sport is a constantly changing thing. It’s never the same one moment to the next, you can never predict it. And because of that, you have to be the sportsman has to be, you know, an improviser, a tremendous improviser, and to be able to create and change things in a split second, you know, and that’s something that isn’t really enforced and kind of, let’s say youth sports, even, you know, older development, no one really talks about this or understands it well how important creativity is and I think that’s the mark of greatness is somebody who is a creative person and training in such a way that kind of their mind to allow for kind of creativity and improv and spontaneity, and unfortunately, kind of my experiences going through kind of youth sports and kind of up the pyramid, I played college Division One hockey and sort of even the higher I got, the less creative it was and the need for creativity was, you know, much higher than that, because I saw that the greatest athletes like Gretzky’s and like, in any sport, they were the best. And most creative people, that’s why people paid money to go see them, because they were doing things we haven’t seen. That’s what, the demand is for sport. And so you have to, like, teach people to do this in their own way, because every individuals is different, has different strengths and weaknesses. And, like Lionel Messi, I’ll just use an example. He’s not even really featured in the film, but he was, you know, much shorter. Growing up, he had obviously a growing issue and was shorter, not as strong as everybody else. And so he learned to kind of handle the ball better, he was much smarter with the ball. And, kind of use that to his strength. And now, you know, became the greatest player in the world. But there was a point where they thought, well, this kid’s just not going to That’s it. He’s  not going to develop. And the same thing with Wayne Gretzky and a lot of other players that every one of these players has a big weakness that they use to their advantage and developed maybe a deeper understanding of their sport.


Brett Bartholomew  9:04  

Yeah, you give a great example there. And I think, you know, for anybody that hasn’t seen the film, you made an excellent point within it, that these athletes that you feature weren’t the best at what they did necessarily, because they were genetically superior. I mean, of course, they have gifts compared to the average person. How do we want to define that? But these weren’t the dominant freak shows that we think of right, like, as you alluded to, there’s Wayne Gretzky, and he was not as fast and it was because of those limitations that he had to think about how to compete on the fringes, how to do these things on the outside how to innovate. One that spoke near and dear to my heart was your example of Rocky Marciano. I box competitively in college, you know, I’m five, eight, I had to close that gap. And typically when we think of close fighters, you think of the Tyson style, but that was really Rocky Marciano, who is really credited with close range fighting. Pele recalled and I’ll butcher the name here but his favorite player Garrincha was born with misshapen knees and one leg shorter than the other, and an area that that even came up today, Gabe was, you know, working with an athlete nine years in the NFL. And he’s constantly, almost like a hypochondriac. Well, my hip feels off. And this doesn’t feel stable and yada, yada, it was taking up a lot of training time. And I eventually had to stop him. And I’ll call him something else. For this time, I’ll say I said, Pete, listen, you spent nine years in the NFL, you’ve had collision after collision after collision, you’ve been playing American football forever, You’re shit ain’t gonna be even buddy, like your body, this idea that your body, there’s some athlete out there, that’s perfectly proportioned, that has no issues that’s built for, you know, perfect dimensions, it doesn’t exist, and I go, so you’re gonna have to deal with the limitation, you’re gonna have to get outside of your own head. And you’re gonna have to use it as an advantage. And but people don’t want to hear that because they, you know, it makes them kind of feel like, well, it’s just easier to say something’s wrong with me. And I need to go fix it. No, no, you just need to be more creative. Any thoughts on that?


Gabe Polsky  11:05  

Well, you kind of covered it there. Well, the question is, is like, Okay, if you’re not fast, let’s say in a sport, or whatever it is, speed is a common thing in any sport. You don’t want to just say, Okay, well, I’m just slow. And you know, I’m never going to be fast that’s also a misconception, yes, you do need kind of a mean level of speed, you need to be kind of fast, but your brain can be faster to you know, so you just react a little bit quicker, you know, where it’s going, you know, you can’t be super slow, you know, so you can make that argument. But you don’t need to be also like, you know, Carl Lewis or something, you know, you can be pretty slow and be effective. And I’ve seen it, I’m sure you’ve seen it, like these guys that just have this real elusive speed. It’s, either it’s a mental thing, like Jerry Rice says, you know, when on the field, you know, I’m not, I’m terrible at the 40 yard dash, but if somebody’s running behind me, they can never catch me, you know, that’s like, sort of a psychological thing. But then he also runs perfect routes, you know, like, he never missed steps. And he completely efficient, because he taught himself, you know, how to stop. That’s a very fundamental thing, how to, where do you step? How do you cover the most ground in the short amount of effort? You know, like, that’s, you know, he’s perfected that kind of craft of efficiency. And I think Gretzky’s like that, too. You know, he was known for being incredibly quick to the puck, but he couldn’t skate fast. Same thing with his shooting, it wasn’t hard, you know, but it was very, very accurate, deceptively accurate.


Brett Bartholomew  12:54  

Yeah, well, I think about what you just said, and, you know, I don’t know how many other folks in the sports performance realm you’ve spoken with. But even looking at the Jerry Rice example of how to stop, you know, I think of all the wide receivers I’ve trained over the years, they’re always obsessed with speed, speed, speed, and we would tell them, you’ve got to train the brakes, you’ve got to learn how to cut and decel all these things with precision. But it’s not as exciting, right? We know that the 40 yard dash is on the Combine hyper sexualized speed, yet it is the precision, it’s the boring things, it gets a great and I think of, you know, the Gretzky example where he said, I just traced where the puck went, I trace where it went. And I looked at that, and I think a lot of that was the impetus of of me starting art of coaching, all these other performance coaches. And there’s many that that go this route too, but they look at the training, what equipment do you have? What techniques are you utilizing? What’s the latest and greatest in sports science. And I remember one coach and I talking about why isn’t nobody focusing on the interactions, the things that are said to athletes, the rapport that’s built, the buy in that they get that leads to increased tenacity and the training, or more importantly, how they influence them, how they do, how they get them to do things and see things in a new light. But it’s tricky. And it makes me wonder, when you had to approach the conversations with these athletes to get on in the film, one, and this is a very naive question, but I’m just fascinated by it. One, How do you even reach out and pitch them to do this? And then how did you get them to open up and get to be so personal about this? Because that trust and rapport had to be built from you as a director as well. Right? Like, talk to me a little bit about that.


Gabe Polsky  14:29  

Yeah, well, it was incredibly difficult as you can imagine, you know, first of all that the idea of this project is a little bit abstract. You know, I’m sort of you know, exploring greatness but you know, so does everybody else like you and I mean, everybody you know, wants to know a great but I sort of was coming at it from again, this creativity angle and freedom. Okay. But I didn’t I honestly I don’t think that any of the players really knew what I was going to do. You saw it in the film, because a lot of times, things get lost in translation with their agents and so on. So I was sort of high minded and ambitious, but I don’t even know if they really knew what I was going to do. So that the next so it was it took months and months to get any kind of response. And then, you know, it’s just, it was brutal. I didn’t get, you know, some folks that I might want it I’ve got, like Michael Jordan, obviously, Serena Williams, you know, a few other kind of really big names, you know, but once I kind of got some of the greatest of all time that I thought were, you know, in the major sports and enough to tell a great story. And I could use sort of other archival elements to fill it out. Then I kind of went made the film. So when I sat down with these guys, you know, I knew I were really wasn’t given a whole lot of time. And that was another factor, I kind of had to know a little bit where I was going. And but I think right away, they realized that I wasn’t, you know, asking the same questions, and there was something a little different about what I was going after. And I think mainly, like, this sort of, again, creativity theme, and, you know, sort of this showmanship, you know, that is what it’s all about, you know, and that kind of their eyes lit up. Like that’s what sport is all about, you know, having fun with creativity. This is what engages the athlete, not robotic, repetition. That is not it becomes not fun. It’s like school, you know, you want to this is performance, like theater too. You know, it’s gotta be, there’s gotta be a level of spontaneity and agency and creativity and in the training and sports otherwise, you sort of lose interest, not just in the training, but you can’t watch sports when they become too robotic. It’s the same thing over and over. Okay, great. They, executed a perfect play, but there was nothing artistic about it. that’s fine. But but for who? Why don’t we watch sports on? Like, Sega or something, you know? So it’s Yeah, so they, I think they sort of got excited about to talk about these kinds of things, and they knew is important, and also just with kids, just how important it is to just let kids play and have fun. That’s where greatness comes from.


Brett Bartholomew  17:31  

Yeah, I think there’s this quote that really touch base with everything you’re saying is, you know, of course has to be some structure. And we get that through a lot of the rules in sport. So without that structure, there’s chaos. But without freedom, there’s suffocation. There’s never any kind of evolution of that. And one thing I was really happy to see is, there is also this talk about coaching and I may not get the quote, 100% Correct. But I remember Jerry Rice talking about Bill Walsh, and he said, you know, this guy that have him in my corner, he was such a genius. He knew how to be your best friend, and how to be your worst enemy. He was like a father in a way and he’d make you feel just a bit uncomfortable. And I’m curious about the conversations you had around coaching with any of these athletes, because so often we get questions of Well, How should I go about building bind with this person? How should I do this? And once again, we’re in this society that values this one size fits all model, right? They want, somebody like Bill Walsh, or they want Popovich or they want somebody to come out and say this is how you coach everybody, but it just doesn’t exist. You know, any thoughts on things that you heard or, even from your experience playing at Yale, just on that aspect of coaching, maybe what you responded to, or what some of these other guys said they valued about these coaches?


Gabe Polsky  18:51  

Well, yeah, I mean, for my experience, first of all, like at Yale, like, I had a coach that didn’t had no idea how to handle each player. And so it created a lot of he wasn’t very good interpersonally and created a lot of like, bad feelings and kind of confusion and just like, no, like, you know, like the team that nothing was cohesive, and he didn’t really get the most out of the players. For sure, like, maybe 50% At most, I think So, you know, but I think you know, as you saw, you know, the Celtics coach, why am I blanking? Who was the biggest Celtics coach? He was,


Brett Bartholomew  19:33  

are you talking about the one that you had in the film? Because now I’m blanking on it, too. I got caught up on the bill Walsh and Jerry Rice one because that was, yeah, I’d have to go back and look, I don’t want to lie. 


Gabe Polsky  19:41  

Yeah. Well, he’s like, you know, is it Red Auerbach? 


Brett Bartholomew  19:44  

Red Auerbach Yeah, yeah. Yeah. 


Gabe Polsky  19:46  

But he was like, you know, I mean, a cypher film maybe has more championships and Phil Jackson, I don’t know. But anyways, he was saying you know that every player is different. You have to treat everybody a little bit differently, understand their psychology, their strength again, their strengths their weaknesses and really emotionally, kind of take care of them, you know, some players, they need a little bit of motivation, kind of maybe talking down to them, so that that helps them, you know, be motivate other players that will just kill them. So it’s all different. And but I think that there’s a level of that players they like probably coaches you tell me that are fair, you know that if you’re doing a great job, you’re going to, you know, be rewarded. And if you’re not, for whatever reason, you’re just, you know what I’m saying? 


Brett Bartholomew  20:42  

Yeah, oh, without a doubt, and I remember what you’re talking about now. And you’re right, he had nine NBA titles in 10 years, and the quote was you coach through humor, sarcasm, or just plain force, you have to change your pace all the time. And it led to something else that I really liked about, you know, your film. And again, this is full confirmation bias. But I do think it’s important is, I remember you talking about one time that you really liked this idea, or you’ve always been stuck on this idea that like, hey, when people create something new, they’re often going to meet resistance due to what they’re doing. And it threatens people. And we saw this in the performance world, this was something that I talked about, that we experienced is in the performance world to give you an idea 96% of any conferences are training based, right? Again, getting people faster, stronger, more agile, what have you very little focused on interpersonal skills. Yet, when you listen to the world’s best athletes, that’s what they remember about those coaches. And almost immediately, when we put that out there, somebody would say, oh, so training is not important, right? They try to turn it into a black and white argument. And we’re not saying that, and then we’re saying, Hey, we’re going to do improv for coaches. And a lot of these coaches would say, Well, I don’t have time for games. And I said, Well, that’s interesting, because your athletes practice the military does war games, you know, almost every field practices or refines or rehearsals in some way or another. How do you do that? Well, that’s what internships are for. And it was just kind of troubling to me. But when we see especially, and this might be I know this statistic, usually, for people not in the field surprises them. The performance or strength conditioning coaches spend more time around athletes than anybody else on staff, whether that’s at the pro level or the collegiate level, just because of different times of year and constraints by clubs, or what have you. Yet there is this lack of focus on learning, social creativity, social adaptability. I imagine you deal with that somewhat in filmmaking, too, right? Even though that’s an inherently creative industry. Were there things that you saw that your peers got locked into that you knew you wanted to break the mold with? As, a creative? And a director? I know, that’s a broad question. But 


Gabe Polsky  22:49  

yeah, look, I think it’s the exact same principles were in film or television, you know, nobody wants to, you can’t copy other people, I think you can copy other people, but you’re not a good director or filmmaker. So you have to, like really understand your own kind of nature and voice. And, again, you know, if you have these strengths, they’re there the way you think your life experience, you’re, and you have to kind of harness that and sort of create your own thing, your voice, you know, and that audiences will respond to that. Because you’re doing something different. You’re bringing something different to the world, it’s exact same in sports. And I think a lot of other fields. I’m thinking fields that might not be as you know, like, some kind of engineering thing, but it’s still there’s always elements to infuse your own mojo to you know, because, you know, the world needs, new technologies, you know, and it’s constantly evolving. So, I do think that those principles apply to everything, you know,


Brett Bartholomew  24:06  

yeah. yeah, and I know, 


Gabe Polsky  24:08  

yeah, I’m always thinking what will Okay. How’s this idea have been stated before, and it has too much Is it gonna bore the audience? You know, we’ve already heard that. Okay, great. But maybe we hear it in a little bit of a different context, or it’s, you know, reinforced in a different way. So yeah, I think the idea of the film in search of greatness is like, it’s a unique film, because I don’t think anyone’s really ever explored greatness in this particular way and has gotten kind of these guys together and done kind of an all encompassing thing. There’s obviously a lot there’s more things to say, but I felt like I got to the core of what I felt. I wanted to say, you know, in a unique way, it’s a kind of a free flowing film. There’s, you don’t really the way I describe it is you don’t really know where you’re going in there, but you’re still in In, you know what I’m saying? it’s just flowing into new things and you’re like, oh, yeah, yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Then you kind of feel like, Oh, now we’re going into another thing, you know, like, whether it’s parenting or genetics or you know, obsession, you know, motivation, you know those kinds of things.


Brett Bartholomew  25:20  

Yeah, I mean, to me it was a film about, you know, of course creativity. But this gray area and adaptation and resourcefulness and open mindedness. You know, did people try to stop? Were they closed off? Are they open to change? What did they want? You know, I loved when they asked Wayne Gretzky about practice. How did you practice as a kid or whatever, and today’s parents would think, Alright, Billy, Susie, Tommy, Janie and Sally need to be at the rink constantly. And at noon, they do this and at one they do this and three, they do this. And a lot of times it was self directed with Wayne and any practice taking different shots and you had fun and what do you think that is so inherently problematic for people who want this one size fits all answer to hear Wayne Gretzky somebody, they’d love to tell their kid just do X to now get that answer.


Gabe Polsky  26:11  

That’s the paradox. And it’s really the core of what we’re all thinking and doing and society. Okay, so any of these greatest athletes, there’s something inside them that it’s let’s call it passion, okay? First, they’re so excited. They just love doing it, shooting the puck and skating it, there’s something about it, they just love it. They love that. And then they start to learn the game and you start to master it. And the passion just gets almost more and more than it’s reinforced. There’s so they’re good. Oh my god, I’m good. I’m getting attention. And then it’s more they get they love it even more. And then it becomes you know, the word that I don’t know, it’s just a word, but call it obsession. But they’re literally you know, it’s you’re obsessed. You wake up in the morning, that’s all you think about how do I get better I want to be the best I want to they’re obsessed. It’s like, and then it becomes like an OCD. You know what I’m saying? Like mastering all the little things and whatever. But then is that a neuroses is some kind of mental illness in a weird way. You know, I’m saying because, like, you literally put everything aside and that’s all you’re, it’s an obsession, you know, so, but it’s a positive obsession, because they’re, I guess, becoming great. And, you know, it helps them survive and get money and stuff like that. But like, yeah, that’s what people do when they’re like, really into something any field it is, and they just like look at like Martin Scorsese. Like how many movies that guy watches, he’s just this, his mind is like a one track movie guy, you know, and he’s so good at it, too. So like, Yeah, I know, I’m covered. But like, you know, this passion is just, you can’t replace that. And it comes from yourself. You can’t really like say to a kid. You gotta be you gotta wanna it you gotta be passionate, like, they’ll be passionate, if they are passionate, that’s it like, it is what it is. There’s no forcing it. There’s nothing either they love it so much that, or they’re not that into it. And that’s just like, that’s how it is. There’s no forcing greatness. ever, ever, the more you force it, the worse it is.


Brett Bartholomew  28:26  

And what’s fascinating about that is again, and I think of all the times where we’ve spent, you know, moments in the weight room with folks and you see these coaches that say, Oh, you gotta want it. And you know, pain is weakness, leaving the body and all these cliche terms, and it’s like you said, you’re not going to motivate that out of somebody. Right? And then I remember one coach, kind of arguing back well, you know, that’s like that Zig Ziglar, quote, you know, like, motivation doesn’t last. So that’s why it’s like bathing, you got to do it daily. And it’s like, no, like, you got to understand that sometimes, these people do find their own thing. Like for us, our obsession now was social interaction and the nuances of the art of coaching, you know, that was baked into me, from my time being hospitalized, like a traumatic life event that turned into a fascination with social dynamics and the human body. And then this merge this convergence of like, Alright, how do I get the human body to its zenith. Part of that is getting people to care and understand what they’re doing, which is social influence. And then there’s all these things. And I’m also glad use the term because I don’t think most people would Gabe mental illness because I think that that has this negative stigma. And I guess if people are using the clinical, absolute most rigid definition there is but if we look at harmonious passion and obsessive passion, like where is that line, right, it does get blurred, and it’s like that. Abraham Lincoln had this quote, and I put it on my desktop where he said, it’s my experience that folks who have no vices generally have very few virtues, right there is this deeper satisfaction in The struggle that takes you to a dark place, and that’s where the creative shit comes from. You know? 


Gabe Polsky  30:06  

Yeah. And I had this as an aside, but sort of a conversation with somebody in my family just like that, you know, there’s, let’s say families that are so well behaved their kids are so like, impeccable, they answer the phone, this is, you know, so and so resident or whatever. And I just thinking, you know, and I wasn’t like, the most well behaved, I don’t know what’s good or bad. But there’s something maybe boring about that? Is there you know what I’m saying like there’s something. I don’t know what it is like, yeah, behavior is important. But you know, you got to, there’s something maybe a little bit unhealthy about the other way, too, you know,


Brett Bartholomew  30:50  

well, that’s what they’re finding, they’re finding that this idea of emotional stability is not is well adjusted, as we think, especially in times of chaos, which we’re in the most fast moving time in society. And you look historically at this. And there’s another fascinating thing that we’ve got to find a way to chat about to have this, this emerging research on what they call dark sided traits and behaviors were some of the best coaches now if we flipped gears from athletes to coaches, they talked about had this selective deployment of dark sided behaviors. Now, it doesn’t mean you’re kind of this want asshole, or you’re doing things that are injurious or dangerous. We’re not talking about, you know, but what we are talking about as people that know how to use this selective display of force or you know, maybe they know how to manipulate you think of like Alex Ferguson and Manchester United, they know how to influence it. And it is this idea of like, people when they think that there’s no room for dark, and it’s just everything’s got to be light sided, emotionally stable, the normal family, that healthy habits, all this stuff, how do you ever get to your gray area, if you have never had any mess to overcome? I mean, I’d have to imagine as somebody living in LA,


Gabe Polsky  32:00  

here’s the bottom line is that life is incredibly dark. Sorry, I don’t want to say dark, 


Brett Bartholomew  32:07  

You can say dark you’re fine. 


Gabe Polsky  32:09  

sorry, it’s gray. There’s so much strange stuff in the world and the way life kind of unfolds and the ups the downs, it’s insane. you know, it just keeps going like, one day from the next surprise, that’s resilience, you’ve got to be able to deal with anything. And that’s what sports is so good at to like, playing sports is just how unpredictable it can be and just rolling with the punches. Okay, so you’re losing now to nothing. Okay? Are you going to just like, collapse? No, you’re going to just, you know, one shift at a time, you know, come back, you know, and see how you could do you know, what I’m saying? Like, it’s like waking up, you know, you have like, a lot of really bad news. And, you know, you chip away like, little by little, you know, it’s resilience, it’s flexibility, mental flexibility, you can’t always seek control, you have to be very comfortable in uncontrolled situations that are out of control. And that’s like the Dow, you know,


Brett Bartholomew  33:16  

yeah, you think of, it’s helping people understand that trauma is not a disease just as like a virus isn’t an infection, right? Like, I have a 15 month old and he’s sick right now, what have you, many of us get exposed to these viruses and bacteria, and then he gets symptoms and what have you, but eventually, these are the things that make you resilient yet. Now, we want to sterilize everything in society and make it one way, it makes me kind of wonder, and you’ll endear yourself to our audience if you can go here, but if not, I completely understand. Because most of our audience are people that don’t want the one size fits all. They don’t want the usual kind of celebrity BS that somebody gives on a podcast, that’s a safe answer, you know, what are some forms of kind of darkness that you’ve gone through, you know, either as an athlete or a director or a father or anything like that? Like what are kind of those self doubts or that strong inner voice that you have to like, Shut up or deal with periodically, those demons so to speak now?


Gabe Polsky  34:13  

It’s like all the time. I mean, I’m naturally a little bit


Brett Bartholomew  34:18  



Gabe Polsky  34:19  

I’m very optimistic, and have a lot of self confidence, like just maybe over self confidence, but I think that’s a survival mechanism, you know? And, but at the same time, yeah, I doubt every day is this going to happen? I always sometimes you feel like you’re just like spinning in circles and you got to make that plunge and, you know, or, you know, you’re hearing kind of constant bad news every day. And should I just give up on this one or, you know, I’m saying like, it’s just all the time every day and that’s like, what I constantly say and think is that those that can really not have it affect them? Especially maybe in the movie business? I don’t know if it’s more, so I hear that it’s a lot more because there’s so much rejection, that you’re just like, every day like 30 rejections, you know? So you just have to let go of everything you know, and just, you know, kind of go with the flow and believe in what you’re doing. But yeah, I mean, it’s just constantly I wish, do you know what I’m saying? I wish I could kind of I mean, the amount of bad things that kind of happen. It’s just like, it’s like, almost infinite. You know what I’m saying? 


Brett Bartholomew  35:36  

I think you’re hitting on it, right? We looked at this idea of like, 


Gabe Polsky  35:38  

but then you could look at it as a good thing, too. Like, there’s this whole ideology like, oh, well, maybe that’s actually a good thing you never know. Like, let’s see how it turns out later. And you know what I’m saying, like, you get rejected for something and then the next day, you get a call and someone even better wants to do it, you know what I mean? You have to be prepared for anything in life, a lot of these bad things turn out to be the best things ever and vice versa.


Brett Bartholomew  36:12  

Hey, quick break in the conversation with Gbae just to say thank you to our core sponsor Momentus. Momentus is a performance nutrition company that’s dedicated to creating no nonsense products that support the relentless pursuit of progress and health, or performance. And guys, really, whatever those terms mean to you, even if it’s just you wanting to hurt less, when you’re playing with your kids, you’re getting back in the habit of business travel after COVID. And knowing that you have some kind of nutrition, supplementation and insurance to trust while you’re on the road, or something do help you deal with aches and pains from previous injuries. Momentus has you and we are a no fluff company ourself with art of coaching. So we don’t really promote much, especially from a nutrition standpoint. But when it comes to plant based protein, grass fed whey protein, collagen peptides, fish oil, the basics, it is the only nutrition supplement company that I recommend, or work with. And you can use code Brett 25 at Again, that’s Brett 25 at To save off your first order. 


Also, if you are intrigued by this conversation, and you are fascinated by creativity and improvisation and trying to figure out how you can really evolve into the best professional or person you can, I encourage you to look into our art of coaching Apprenticeship program. These are workshops that we do all over the world and we had you in mind, we kept it to two days because we know one day workshops are often super dense and hard to really have tactical takeaways. Three day workshops are really difficult for people to get to because they have busy lives and work. So we jam packed this stuff into two days. And it is role playing. And it is case studies. And it is video breakdowns. No different than you’re hearing the individuals on this episode talk about what helped them become great. Whether it was Wayne Gretzky studying the game of hockey and tracing all of the moves of the hockey players on the ice to see where people weren’t, or whether it was Jerry Rice, really refining his deceleration and his technique, you to being a leader need to refine your communication and your technique from an interpersonal standpoint. And it’s very simple, guys, this isn’t rah rah stuff. It’s not a motivational seminar, we put people in real world scenarios, and we roleplay and when I say roleplay, we’re not talking Saturday Night Live, I’m talking about we put you in situations where you have to deal with that stodgy box where you have to deal with that difficult client, where you have to try to influence somebody who is usually not very easy to persuade, and we put you in a corner and you have to work yourself out of it. More importantly, you can connect with other professionals from a wide variety of fields. It is not just about coaching, and you’re gonna get takeaways that you can use and teach your team down the road. So check it out, you can go to to see where they’re going to be in your area today. All right, back to the conversation with Gabe.


Gabe Polsky  39:22  

Do you know what I’m saying? I wish I could kind of I mean, the amount of bad things that kind of happen. like it’s like almost infinite. You know what I’m saying?


Brett Bartholomew  39:31  

Yeah, I think you’re hitting on it right? We look at this idea but like, 


Gabe Polsky  39:35  

but then you could look at it as a good thing to like, there’s this whole ideology like, oh, well, maybe that’s actually a good thing. You never know. Like, let’s see how it turns out later. And you’re not I’m saying like, you get rejected for something and then the next day you get a call and someone even better wants to do it. You know what I mean? You have to be prepared for anything in life. A lot of these bad things turn out to be the best things ever and vice versa.


Brett Bartholomew  39:57  

Yeah, I think that hits on At a point of we’re talking the other day of this concept of what are called like eco tones and like an eco tone is where these two ecosystems can put up next against one another. So like it could be a desert and, and a marsh, or a forest and a city. And of course, there’s certain species that survive. And each of those individual ecosystems are thrive. But what they find is in the middle, they have this thing called the edge effect. And the edge effect is where we see more biodiversity, right? It’s a really hard place for either of these that are specialized to live in one or the other to exist. But eventually, over time, that edge effect takes place and you have something that’s more biodiverse. I think anytime we stay in the ecosystems that we’re most comfortable with, or just provide us with self assuredness, and just provide us with some sense of control, it’s good in the short term, but it makes it really nasty in the long term, if we want to become something adaptable. 


Gabe Polsky  40:52  

Yeah. And like, you know, I think one main question that I have a lot is that, you know, let’s say you hear something kind of negative for yourself, like a family member, or somebody you know, is upset with you, or and  it’s really kind of a downer, and you know, you’re not really at fault. And that person might be dealing with some things. Like, a lot of psychology will say, Oh, you know, you got to deal with that. You got to really think about it deal with that and then like expunge it, or do you just, like let it bounce off of you, and you don’t even think about you, it’s almost like you ignore it. Is that inhumane, or some kind of thing. But because we hear so much bad information every day, your mind and body have to be able to really deflect it. But then are you inhumans? So that’s something that I think about a lot like, am I sensitive enough, because of my survival mechanisms, I’d become somewhat a little bit insensitive for survival, because I can’t handle all that bad stuff. So it’s an interesting thing to think about. But I think you’re, everybody sort of understands their limits, in a way like, Man, if I think about this anymore, I’m gonna go crazier. You know,


Brett Bartholomew  42:08  

and what you said complements the nature of your film even more is, you know, this is what I love about the idea of improv. This is what I fell into it it normalizes failure, right? There’s this idea of improvisational methods can be used to create Yeah, like safe and productive environments. But mainly people need to know that there’s not one answer. I think, when we started teaching these workshops, I wanted to go be a student again, myself, and I know that, you know, you have an appreciation for range because I think if you did tennis, and waterskiing and some other sports right before I go on,


Gabe Polsky  42:40  

every sport, yeah. And I kept doing it. I mean, I even to this day, because I’m getting a little bit older, like, if I don’t work on my coordination, you know, I’m gonna like, be like an uncoordinated Old man, you know, so what I do, I go out, and I, you know, I run every other day or three times a week, but I run with a tennis ball and I like basically bounced the tennis ball while I’m running through my legs behind my back, like, you know, I throw the ball over my head, catch it behind me, because I’m trying to keep That peripheral vision, the coordination, and I’m not like, look, I hate going to the gym. I never go to the gym since I graduate college. But like I do little things flexibility, because I know that as you get older, you know, if someone calls me off to play golf, or whatever, tennis or let’s play basketball, that I can still do that on a dime, because I’ve been, you know, doing some level coordinated things. So anyways, that’s sort of my


Brett Bartholomew  43:44  

Yeah, no what you’re talking about. But like, think of that somebody, let’s say your neighbor looked at that, right. And they might think the lay person might be like, well, that’s illogical What the hell’s that person doing? And, that’s what I’m talking about, with the improv and the creativeness that you’re talking creativity is the non logical or the adjacent possible, is where that stuff is found. And I just think it’s fascinating that you know, you did such a great job. Getting that across with athletes. It’s just so unique, trying to get it across the coaches, I have to wonder this, and this is another potentially selfish question. But, you know, I always tell people in my field who feel like they’re misrepresented, you know, not a lot of the world knows much about the performance industry as it really exists. We kind of say behind the scenes, you interviewed a lot of folks, you had athletes, you had sport coaches, you had academics, you had another author, you had David Epstein in there. What did you ever consider kind of looking at somebody in the performance space that does somebody in your position? Know that people in strength and conditioning or what have you generally spend the most time around athletes as opposed to coaches or have you ever looked into that space?


Well, I think that’s interesting. I didn’t really look at that what I was really You know, trying to focus on because I knew no one’s going to Who do people really want to listen to? Okay.


Yeah, that’s the word’s best athletes 


Gabe Polsky  45:10  

that’s what they want to hear the guys the goats, right. Like how did you you it’s not Gabe Polsky or anybody else like, let them say it and if I could shape it a little bit the themes that I think, you know, really resonate and sort of different, then it’s going to really resonate, because you can argue it listen BRett ,  if you say something to someone as Brett, I mean you know, you’re an accomplished guy, and so on, about like, how it should be done or whatever. But if you say, look, Wayne Gretzky said this, or Pele or Tom Brady, it’s a lot more respected because they did it that so that was the main principle with this doc is to get it from their mouth, and then kind of shape the discussion, use the commentators a little bit to shape the story.


Brett Bartholomew  46:05  

No, you’re spot on. We even did that as an experiment once we took on iconic quote from Coach Popovich. And we, you know, somebody was asking how he gets buy in from athletes and Popovich is. It’s, you know, like, Oh, everybody wants to know pops doing and pops doing. And they see that he didn’t get tactical, he just kind of said something similar to Red Auerbach, right, like, you have to adjust your style, you have to let them know you care, you have to do this. You have to do that. Oh, my God, people’s minds were blown, whatever. And then we took another quote from somebody that was relatively unknown, but a lot more tactical, not esoteric, right, but a lot more tactical. Gave them three ways you could break into, hey, this is somebody that’s a little bit hard knows what you can do something that’s a little softer. This is what you can do whatever. Well, who do you think people preferred? They prefer Popovich, because even though it wasn’t tatsoi, this came from this guy. So you’re spot on. And that’s, another thing. It makes me think about your craft. Right? The film, how long was the film in search of greatness? How long was it? 


Gabe Polsky  46:05  

Like 90 minutes? 80 minutes? 


Brett Bartholomew  46:11  

How much? Did you actually how much footage did you actually have? If you were to look at the totality before the cutting room floor?


Gabe Polsky  47:12  

Yeah. So with the athletes, I got roughly an hour and a half with each of them, maybe a little less.


Brett Bartholomew  47:19  

Okay. And then with, the cut ins and all that, like before you edited down what was it generally 


Gabe Polsky  47:25  

that was a lot that was a lot, that’s hard to say, because there’s so much archival footage out there that we’re dealing with, that’s hard to say,


Brett Bartholomew  47:33  

okay, my point here is this.


Gabe Polsky  47:35  

I want to say like, let’s say, like 10 times What’s in the film, way more? Yeah, even more 


Brett Bartholomew  47:44  

beautiful. So we talked about film being one of the ultimate ways to get a message across which at you did wonderfully. Our job is So centered around communication. So to go from what you had to 80 minutes, there’s all this message prioritization that has to take place, this is going to be very broad. So do take it wherever you want. How do you approach that? How do you approach the idea of okay, what kind of met what are the core messages? Of course, they’re things around creativity and problem solving or whatever. But these are you have to kill your darlings. You know, you have to kill so much. Talk to me about just what that’s like editing that down.


Gabe Polsky  48:23  

Wow, yeah, that was the core of what I was doing in this film. Obviously, the topic of greatness is so big. 


Brett Bartholomew  48:34  

Oh Yeah. 


Gabe Polsky  48:35  

I just, you know, I just kind of made a list. And, you know, I don’t have that in front of me right now. But, you know, again, I’ll name some of them. Okay, importance of genetics, parenting, free, you know, what was their youth? Like? How did they, you know, start exploring their own greatness and building the tools to do that. And then, you know, what motivated them you know, the obsession what, how deep was this obsession? And how did it manifest? What did each of these guys do? For instance, Gretzky would watch literally every single game after he played of other teams at night. I mean, we’re talking, I don’t know millions of games, he would just sit there and watch Jerry Rice, you know, after a game, he’ll go on the field again and start running routes. I mean, it just, it reaches a level that is beyond something that I had comprehended before and I felt myself like almost like, Okay, I felt bad because I was like, you know, okay, this is way beyond what I could do. Like, I wouldn’t want to watch every game game after I played it’s just too much. It’s like, Do you know what I’m saying? 


Brett Bartholomew  50:05  

Yeah, it’s just rage to master. That was a quote from the movie, right? They had a rage to master.


Gabe Polsky  50:11  

Yeah, no, but the level. It’s, you know, I thought I kind of knew but what you know, when I listened to that it was pretty all encompassing, like, you have no other life, you know, but they loved it, I guess that they just love that that one thing. So that’s how I kind of started narrowing down the movie and then, yeah, selective I mean, it’s just things that I thought were just so important to drill down in people that I thought would like help people as much as possible with this film, you know, what I thought was most important. And obviously, there’s so much like parenting, for instance, well, we could talk about this for a month about parenting. But you select things to kind of build your message and my message, let’s say in parenting was just, you know, support your kid, and give them kind of some opportunities to explore themselves, and then let leave him alone. But if they need a little bit of help, you know, and you could, you know, and you’re going to a game and you want to give him some advice, you know, that’s fine, too. But just, it’s all about, it has to come from them, you know, and just leave them alone. Let them be free, get let them go out and play.


Brett Bartholomew  51:34  

Yeah, you know, when you talk about, you know, selecting things out, build that message. You know, in the training side, we often use sports science to try to select things and really pay attention to things that help us build their training. But one thing that I love that you mentioned is and it’s not a direct quote, but But talking about how analytics are very little help in spotting creative traits, right? Not everything, it really is true, not everything can be measured. And, you can’t really use analytics to, hey, we’re gonna be able to parse out this individual, special genius for a game or sport. And statistics, so often fall into this trap of making something important, just because we can measure it again, going back to where we fell into this early like, well, I don’t know about improv, and then they started seeing other people do it. Now we want to, you know, where do you stand on that Now? I mean, are your thoughts around that any different? They elaborated this idea that, yeah, like, sorry, you can’t use analytics to be like, yep, that guy’s got that creative. you know, like, we can teach people to play defense, we can get people stronger. I can’t teach a guy to create a tactic that helps him score 70 goals.


Gabe Polsky  52:42  

Yeah. I mean, yeah, I feel the same way. I think analytics have since I was playing, I’ve gotten a lot more intense and specific. And on a certain level, what I like about analytics is that if you’re a player, and you just, you know, in order to play, you know, you could say, hey, look, no, look at my stats, like, my goals, per game, or my plus minus, or, you know, Puck possession, you know, is much better than these guys, but they’re playing and I’m not well, what the hell’s going on, you can at least point to something and say, okay, come on, like, you know what I’m saying. So that was it’s less subjective there, or you win more with this guy. Okay, well, at least it’s a statistic is that the important one and let’s frickin when I like that idea. That’s what I like, because I was always in a situation you sort of had to prove and like, people who are unproductive were playing and they and I didn’t understand why they were unproductive. So at least it can prove productivity, that’s important. However, you can’t understand why somebody’s productive. because it’s too much of a study, it’s not worth the money, you know, somebody it’s their, the way their brain works, they can find, they know where to be at the right time they hold off they know where to spend their energy and where not to spend there. They, can see where the puck the or the ball is going. And they have but you know, it’s these things that you can’t measure. Why somebody is great because they understand it better. Yeah, now people are using the term like IQ, whatever IQ Okay, great. Yeah, that’s a little bit like how you can’t rate that necessarily, but they are saying it at least now. So but then then saying, you know, it depends what IQ what for a defensive player like yeah, that guy’s a great defensive mind. Okay, but he just like shuts people down. Is that that interesting to watch?


Yeah. And I think to like making sure sometimes just don’t get in their own way. You know, going back to Gretzky talking about one of his favorite coaches. Right, and I think the guy’s name was Glen Sather. Is that how you? Yeah. And he’s like He didn’t tamper with it. He didn’t tamper with it. And that’s the tricky thing of what you’re alluding to right analytics can be great for many reasons. But sometimes they can make us see things that aren’t there. And you can kind of get this false positive, and then you start going with something. 


let’s look at Gretzky for a second here. So he’s, you watched him play, and a lot of people maybe younger, whatever, but you didn’t know what the hell he was doing. Like, he’s standing in a different area than everybody else. it looks like he’s not trying and then, you know, all of a sudden, you’ll show up, boom, goal boom goal, like just perfect timing, always like he knew where to be. But the average player, that’s not how people played. So you think this guy with what the hell’s he doing with another coach? They might say, this guy, he’s not back checking what’s wrong with them? He’s not doing this. He’s not in the right place. With defense. Like, that’s what coaches most coaches would do, you know. But, yeah, so that’s the bottom line. So great players, some great players, like, they’re way beyond their coaches, because they’re, you know, their coaches. That’s why they’re coaches a lot of times too, it’s because they couldn’t do that. So they have to recognize this guy. Wow, this guy, he’s doing something totally different. But he’s looki how productive is you know what I’m saying like, let’s see, okay, maybe he’s onto something. He’s figured it out. Because he’s gotten to this level. Right? 


Brett Bartholomew  56:40  

Yeah. 100% and, like we said, we’re only going to go into more clay a chaotic and complex times, you know, if I’m correct, and you’ve only you mainly do documentaries, correct?


Gabe Polsky  56:53  

Well, then that’s what I’m known for. Mainly, recently, I’ve done other non doc related things that I’m going to do more non doc things in the near future.


Brett Bartholomew  57:04  

Okay, great. Where I was going with that is, you obviously have this insatiable curiosity for not only creativity, greatness, just the nuances of what makes people unique. And, not to shift gears too much, but it’s just a fascination of when we look at Gretzky and rice and Pele and all this, you know, I’d love to kind of get a little bit more insight as to what made you want to do take a deeper look at Einstein, you know, like, selecting that. Do you mind talking about that A little bit? 


Gabe Polsky  57:31  

Yeah. So it’s a very similar idea here, where, when I started looking to Einstein, first of all, no one had done anything on Einstein, really, my brother, and I was started looking into the rights and so on. And I was pretty amazed Why the hell I mean, this is the greatest guy like, of the 20 century and brightest mind ever. And I didn’t understand it. Anyways, I started looking into his story. And realize that this guy again was nobody expected Einstein to succeed has the science community. Yeah, he was a bright guy, but they didn’t understand him. they didn’t give them jobs. he didn’t get any job as a scientist, or a teacher. Were his colleagues were all getting jobs. And so he had to work at a patent office, because he couldn’t get a job. They didn’t like him. And they didn’t like think he was that particularly that bright. So because he worked at this patent office, he was seeing all these, you know, patents on light and time, a lot of watches. And he started like, I don’t know, something clicked in his brain. And he started developing different theories, he had the time to develop these theories where these other guys were, like teaching class and like, didn’t have any time so that bad thing allowed him to come up with these greatest, you know, thoughts, and he was a much different thinker than all these guys. He was much more visual, he would sort of think outside of the box, he would always have thought experiments, you know, and so that difference allowed him to make these scientific theories and inventions and he was, even when he did that, they didn’t want to believe him. They didn’t trust him. And, you know, so he was an outsider. And I thought that that was kind of a fascinating story, as you know, and then his personal life with his wife and so on. And his kids, you know, made for even more drama but yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of very similar principles with him and like Gretzky, all these guys, you know, the people that are outside of the norm, you know, they encountered tremendous resistance, you know, because nobody wants A they don’t like the outsiders coming in because it threatens the status quo. Yeah, and nobody understand. to them because they’re doing something different. And they don’t want to do something different they want to do how it’s doing let’s keep the power status the way it is. And, it takes a lot of resilience to get through that or one hell of an invention like the Gretzky’s a lot of these guys just barely squeaked through. So there’s many, like, guys like Gretzky or Einstein that kind of have brilliance, but they just can’t make it through. They don’t have that resilience to get through the, you know, the resistance.


Brett Bartholomew  1:00:37  

Yeah, well, I’ve got you use a term there when mentioning that and thank you for not being thank you for going there. Because you know, I was fascinated by that part of your work as well. But use this term, outsider, you know, and I think that that’s a critical thing of what tends to be this creative approach this, willingness to do something, right, that old quote of, sometimes it’s the people nobody can imagine anything of that do the things that nobody else imagines. And, you kind of have to be okay, not being an insider. Like, you have to be okay, being an outsider, I think that there’s this loneliness that can come with that. Right. I know, it’s something that we’ve talked about a lot at art of coaching is, you know, what do you do when you go to that quote of, yeah, first they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they join you, you know, as you’ve done this, because I think you were one of the first that really took this not a swing, not like you were taking a pot shot, or that was your intent. But you know, for a long time, this Moneyball idea took a lot of was very fashionable. And me and some friends were talking, we’d be like, you know, again, data is important. We have scientific backgrounds, we value it. But I don’t believe I know, a sports dynasty, that is that has happened because of data. I don’t think that we’ve yet seen anybody that can say, oh, yeah, because of their sports science wholeheartedly. That’s what did it. But we’ve seen, you know, when the Cubs won their World Series, they talked about how they looked at soft skills, and what they could do organizationally, when we do invest in people, and sometimes the outsiders that we take a swing at the end conventional, that’s the breakthroughs. What do you think it will take for society to quit looking at those people as outsiders? Or, you know, this kind of just different kinds of cast of human that we have to shut out? what’s it going to take for people to realize this lesson, and not constantly have to go back and be talked into it again? And again? And again?


Gabe Polsky  1:02:25  

I think we’re getting, it seems like, actually, right now is a really odd time. And people maybe it’s because we’re hearing a lot more of these stories over and over. And people are just like, Okay, I think I got it now. And you know, that kind of thing. And there are a lot of, as you see, like this whole, like, you know, all the movements happening right now, like for alternative ways of thinking, and I know that they did this in the 60s and whatever, probably throughout history. So I think we’re becoming more open to kind of oddness maybe it’s a big take, going to the pendulum maybe too far there. I don’t know. But you know, there is a pendulum all the time, you know, where things get a little too chaotic, or like, you know, because then when everyone’s just thinking about themselves and being different than there’s a lack of order and discipline, I don’t know, I’m just spitting out ideas here. But so I think we’re a little bit more open to it. And less. There’s little, this whole Vince Lombardi thing, you gotta, you know, it’s all about grit and working hard, and literally just pile driving through people and dominating that that’s sort of an old, you know, 


Brett Bartholomew  1:03:43  

a somatic line of products too. 


Gabe Polsky  1:03:45  

Yeah, you gotta have a more holistic, yeah. And, and the more you see the successes of like Bill Walsh’s and people like that, who are like the opposite of Lombardi in certain ways, they’re a little more creative and kind of, you know, Walsh was sort of a not an imposing guy, you know, and I think, most successful coaches, the really successful, you know, are more artists and open minded guys. You have to be in order to kind of keep shifting as time is changing, you know, and  I think athletes really appreciate those kind of guys. You know, what’s interesting, is that when you reach the highest levels of sport or anything else, let’s say you’re an athlete, the last development there is these coaches, they’re not developing athletes anymore, has nothing to do with development. There’s nothing even in college. It’s like, it’s all about kind of harnessing the talent and letting go and sort of shape you know, like, just figure out how it can kind of flourish together. You know, that’s all that is. These guys. are not like they don’t have to be understanding of how to develop, they just have to be good psychologists and maybe tacticians a little bit, you know,


Brett Bartholomew  1:05:07  

yeah, one of the things to that point that we do an improv activity that we put coaches in and I say Coaches we really our workshops are open to everybody. But let’s say it’s a coach example of somebody come up, let’s say there’s five or six other people. And I’ll give them kind of personality quirks, I’ll say, alright, this person is really skeptical, hard headed, this person is almost kind of this novice, you know, they’re very enthusiastic, they want to do everything. This person is kind of this over worker this head down, they’re gonna continue to move forward. And this person’s in overthinker. They’re kind of a hypochondriac. I go, now I need you to explain one thing. And we’ll ask the audience, I’m like, what is the explaining? And whether it’s a squat or a sprint, or how to jump or whatever, I need to explain that in five different ways in this amount of time, and by the way, they’re going to push back on you, because that’s what happens all the time. I mean, right? Like, we have to tell athletes, I have to tell guys, hey, you’re gonna put 400 pounds on your back? Why? Well, the short answer is it can make you more resistant to injury, if you do it correctly. And this, think about how crazy that sounds to the average person, you know? And of course, they work up to that, what have you. But I remember the first time a coach came up there, and they were pushing back, right? Because it’s improv it’s elevated reality. And this coach got really frustrated, and they go, Well, this would never happen. I go You sure about that? How long? Have you been coaching? You know, because if you don’t think people are gonna push back at you, and you’re not gonna have to manage egos and personalities. And that’s just not really well, what you know, doesn’t matter it at certain levels, it’s how you can kind of get in between those gaps there. I mean, would you agree, am I hearing what you’re saying?


Gabe Polsky  1:06:41  

Yeah, I mean, I do agree. It’s, that’s a tie. I was just thinking about that exercise. I mean, how tough that would be there to do. But I think a lot of things with coaching and just interacting with people, it’s really hard. Like, I’m thinking about what you were saying, you know, what do you say to this guy that this guy, I don’t know what the hell? I’m not the way my mind works. I don’t everything sort of in more intuitive. So I just said, Okay, you just, you’re seeing their face, how their, their posture, the whole thing? And you’re kind of just like, going with it? You know, what I’m saying? And like, I can’t describe the more and then but I think that the more you think about, okay, this is the kind of guy that does this, he does that this that I would just be totally lost, you know?


Brett Bartholomew  1:07:29  

Yeah, I mean, the nice thing is what you generally find with people that are highly skeptical, and what have you is you’ve got to ask them a question and get something they relate to, in their perspective first, because a lot of times they want to be in charge. Right? So it’s this giving and taking of power. It’s what I love about these conversations, right? Like, you and me, right? Now, we have no idea what the other is gonna say there’s this fluid power dynamic. I want to honor your craft, you want to honor mine, we’re having this conversation. But that’s the beauty of improv man. And that’s why I find your work so impactful, just in terms of the openness, the creativity, the non rigidity,there’s people that you can kind of be nice to and say, Hey, I appreciate your work or what have you. And there’s people like you, I can look at and say Your work has made a genuine difference in my life at a time where I perhaps needed at most based on something work created. And I can’t thank you enough for that.


Gabe Polsky  1:08:20  

Well, I appreciate that. But yeah, you know, it’s interesting, Brett like, I’m just thinking about, yeah, the power dynamics, how important it you know, you’re absolutely right, a lot of people, so some people, they have to be told what to do. And they’re great. And they’re the coach’s favorite guy, because they do exactly what they say, and Baba, and then some guys, they just can’t do anything there. So they, cannot stand being told what to do. Right. And it’s that power that or they have to just really understand it like David Epstein was saying in the film like, like great athletes, a lot of them, they just they just need to understand why they’re doing something. You know, why? What is it doing? What you know, they’re curious. They want to, you know, yeah, so that it looks like they’re challenging them, but they just don’t they don’t even they think it could be actually detrimental or whatever. Right.


Brett Bartholomew  1:09:14  

Yeah, I mean, I think another thing and we could go down a whole rabbit hole with this. But I want to honor your time is what one thing that we kind of dive into that you might find fascinating is there are some athletes to your point that there’s different kinds of power, right? There’s what’s called legitimate power, or you’re the director or you’re the head coach, you have this title. That’s what legitimate power is. And then there’s informational power. So, you know, back during the Enlightenment, right, we had people that have this information or before the internet, you know, like the sages kind of people that had insider information. And then there’s what’s called a referent power. And that’s just like, Hey, I like you and I don’t want to let you down and you’re a mentor. And that’s that balance of competence and warmth. Right? What we find is that people have to respond to this competence and warmth and it’s like dials On a DJ board, sometimes you got to dial up one trait sometimes it’s the neck sometimes that. And it’s fascinating. I mean, man, you could do a whole film on power dynamics and this kind of stuff. And I think you’d be brilliant.


Gabe Polsky  1:10:14  

Yeah, I agree. Yeah, that’s an important theme.


Brett Bartholomew  1:10:19  

So listen, I’ve taken a lot of your time I selfishly want you. I want this to continue. So don’t think that this is done between you and me. You need to get you come, I’d love to host you at one of our workshops. I think you’d like it, especially the improv creativity side of it. I can’t wait to follow more of what you do. Everybody can watch your film in search of greatness on Prime Video on Amazon. Where else? Can they download it right now? Get it right now? How else can they support your work and, watch all your stuff?


Gabe Polsky  1:10:49  

Well, they can Google me, but that also like, it’s on Hulu, in search of greatness on Hulu, and then you know, for rental and sale on on all the platforms. So, I think it’s also an app picks too in seach of greatness,


Brett Bartholomew  1:11:03  

we’re gonna put all the links in the show notes, we’re gonna make sure that people can get it wherever and however, so we’ll make sure people support you, I want to give you the last word, anything, we didn’t touch onthat you want to kind of finish off with?


Gabe Polsky  1:11:16  

Well, I mean, I just love honestly, this isn’t just but I do love to hear how every different person kind of interacts with the film. And it was just great to you know, you really I really, after this conversation, understand deeply how you think and kind of a lot about you just based on our conversation, I think, how everybody reacts to this film, it’s incredibly telling their psychology, it’s really it’s just really interesting, you know, 


Brett Bartholomew  1:11:49  

oh, well, I need you to unpack that now. Because, you know, there’s a time where I used to be pretty rigid with this and that and then you just, you get into enough dynamic situations coaching internationally coaching different athletes having to switch from military to youth, to pro athletes to a guy at Google on what all the time it’s that fluidity. So what can you tell from my personality?


Gabe Polsky  1:12:11  

Well, I think you’re, you’ve got a lot of first of all fit physical force from your well for your strong guy, but your voice is strong, you kind of have like this military style of talking, that is a little bit deceiving, because I do believe that you’re, you know, based on what I’ve seen, you know, you’re very open minded to new ideas and different ways of thinking and creativity. So you have this, you know, you’ve got an interesting combination of traits, you know, that I think is very effective.


Brett Bartholomew  1:12:48  

I appreciate that. And likewise, I, it’s


Gabe Polsky  1:12:51  

people like you, you know, because you do have that open mindedness and that sort of, you know, that warmth, that I think, you know, either clients or, you know, athletes sort of, they need, you know,


Brett Bartholomew  1:13:07  

that it’s this balance, and likewise, man, I mean, this has been a great conversation. I appreciate you and we’ll be supporting your work for a long time. And you know, it’s true because I use clips from your film, in our slides at our workshop to reinforce some of the things we’re talking about. So people all over the world are continuing to see it, guys. Until next time, this is Brett Bartholomew Gabe Polsky, the art of coach podcast. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Fergus

    These types of conversations are so valuable. Thank you.

    • Brett

      Thanks so much Fergus! Glad to hear you found it helpful!

  • Vikas chauhan

    I loved it sir, I am from India and I am looking for things to improve my coaching, understanding athletes, performance based mindset.your work is impectful all the Time.

    I am lucky to have mentor like you. I can look up to you all the time.

    • Brett

      Thank you Vikas! What resources have you found most helpful? Would love to hear how you’ve been able to apply lately.

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