Oct. 14, 2022

Katie Spotz - How to Live on Your Terms | Mental Health Podcast

In this episode, I speak with Katie Spotz, an endurance athlete, charitable ambassador, author, and...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/katie-spotz-how-to-live-on-your-terms-mental-health-podcast/#show-notes

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In this episode, I speak with Katie Spotz, an endurance athlete, charitable ambassador, author, and world record holder.

Her passion-filled story of a determined individual who took on the ultimate endurance test, rowing the Atlantic, alone. Katie's provides life lessons and inspiration for a generation of youth that will guide them to build the world they want to live in. Her focus on water, the essence of life, is timely and important.

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Michael: What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. Very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest, Katie Spotz, my friend, how are you today? What is happening in your world?

Katie: Yeah, doing well. How are you?

Michael: I'm very well, super excited to chat with you. Your story is really interesting and fascinating, you've accomplished a lot in your short time here on Earth, and I think it's really beautiful and empowering to see the ability that we have as individuals to find the will, the drive, the desire, the motivation, the valor, all the things required to push ourselves forward and your story is fascinating. For those who don't know, tell us a little bit about it and how you've gotten to where you are today.

Katie: So, I am an endurance athlete and I do ultra-basically everything, ultra-swimming, ultra-cycling, ultra-rowing, ultra-running. And so, my journey through doing all these endurance challenges and what most people will say about endurance challenges is they're more mental than they are physical. My journey started by doubting my own capabilities because I was a bench warmer because I wasn't a star athlete growing up. So, it's really been a journey of uncovering and discovering what you're capable of when you lose the story of who you think you are and what you think you can do and just try. So, I definitely started from humble beginnings, but one of the biggest challenges today was rowing solo across the Atlantic. So, that was spending 70 days alone at sea, no follow boat, no helicopter and becoming the youngest person to do that so well.

Michael: And you were 22 years old when you did that. I think for the majority of us, we were just probably getting trashed. So, first and foremost, that's incredible. You know, I'm fascinated by this idea that so frequently and so often it is the very limitation that we think that we have, which becomes the thing that unlocks our true potential. And I know that very much in your story, you know, going back it was about running a mile, that first mile. And so, many people feel limited because of honestly, not only the stories we tell ourselves, but the stories embedded and ingrained in us from our parents, society, our communities and we feel like what we can offer ourselves is that in which other people have laid in front of us. What is it that you've been able to tap into that has given you the ability to step in, not only to the endurance thing, but if you rewind, you go back to kind of like mile one like what was that about?

Katie: Yeah. So, I mean, at the curiosity is a big part of what drives me, kind of like the kid like wonder that wants to know how high you can climb, how far you can go if you could reach that thing. And so, I love endurance because it puts me in touch with that ability to just get curious. But I mean, the truth is I've done like way bigger challenges than running one mile, but I still feel to this day, my first mile was the hardest and it's only gotten easier. And I will say that, you know, not everyone's gonna be a runner or do these things, and it really doesn't matter. But for me it's kind of like, who are you becoming through endurance. And endurance has definitely shown me this is kind of how I describe endurance is suffering gracefully. And really leaning into that discomfort and feeling the sense of accomplishment to get in touch with your own inner strength and your own inner resolve. And just, you know, it's a beautiful thing, you finished an endurance challenge and you can start to look at everything a little bit differently and this whole idea of, I never thought I could do something and now I can, and everything just gets bigger and infinite possibilities. And so, I would say like one of the core things that endurance has shown me, especially with mindset is, you know, if you wanna make things hard for yourself, just keep repeating, this is so hard, this is so hard. Why does this feel this way? And there's almost a dissociation that happens in endurance that you're almost just observing, not reacting and having that choice, realizing that you have that choice through those painful experiences and just constantly reinforcing this belief that like, you know, it is possible and this isn't hard like that's really, you know, a lot of doing hard things, I just repeat that, you know, this isn't that bad, this is not hard. And I could be losing toenails and doing, but I mean, it's not gonna make it easier if I just keep whining for myself.

Michael: There's an interesting aspect of the evolution of your mindset when you put yourself into these situations. And as someone who literally sitting, and I know no one cares about this sitting here, sands a toenail from a training that I'm currently doing, I was thinking to myself, this is nonsensical to some extent because it's like, what is the point of pushing yourself like this? What is the point of doing this? And it dawned on me. I was in the middle of running my first marathon and it really hit me. I was like, Oh, I'm only doing this to prove to myself that I can do it, there's nothing else involved in this. But you said something beautiful ‘cause I agree with this wholeheartedly, and it's something that I speak about on this show a lot like suffering is a part of the human experience. And suffering gracefully I think is very difficult because we do seek and look for accomplishment, but often, and you know, this failure is inevitable. And so, how do you in this one hand suffer gracefully which I like now wanna get tattooed on me cuz I think that's really powerful and on the other hand, know that you're not always gonna cross the finish line.

Katie: I mean this is kind of me being brutally honest. I have people who will say I just ran this far. And my first thing is saying like, say just this to someone who can't walk, say just this to someone who would do anything to run that slow or do that little. And so, going at gratitude, I mean, there's no loss when you come over, you're not doing things from a lack, you're doing things out of an overflow of joy. But I mean, I will say that, in my early days, failure was mainly like not going fast enough and enough. And I've learned I have some freedom from that and perspective on that and knowing that, it's a part of the process and failure isn't the opposite of success it's part of it. And there's definitely, like I just roller bladed across the Florida Keys, broken my pelvis and done, I mean, if you do these challenges enough, of course that kind of thing is going to happen, but you really just have to not take it so personally and really find a way to always see positive like as soon as my ACL was torn, I asked my physical therapist like, how many tendons and ligaments do we have? And he's like, Oh, over 900. So, I calculate it and I'm like, Oh, 99.8% of me is okay and all a hundred percent of my organs and bones are great. And so, there's always a silver lining and that's always worth our attention and not taking failure personally and knowing that everyone does it. I mean, the biggest failure is to not try it all and as long as you're learning and growing, I mean, that's really what this is all about, learning and growth. And so, the biggest failure and the only failure is to sit on the sidelines and I don't know, I just love that quote, like the man in the arena where it doesn't matter if you're not reaching it, you're the one in the arena trying so that's who the person who deserves the credit all in the outcome.

Michael: Yeah, I completely agree. And you know what, like honestly, nobody cares, which is I think is really interesting thing, it's like you can go do these amazing things, speak on giant stages, and like at the end of the day, like nobody cares, and that's not to be dismissive, right? That's just to simply acknowledge like reality like the thing that matters is how you feel about yourself when you go and you look in that mirror. And one of my mentors taught me, arguably one of the most important things that I've ever been told. And it's like, if you want something in life, you have to earn it, you can't get by on charms or good looks in his words, literally. And I've found that that's pushed me both in positive and negative ways.

Now, I'm curious, when you are in your head, when you're in this place of, you're in the moment of struggle, like what are you saying to yourself? Like, what is the conversation you're having with yourself? Because we all hit that point where we're like, ah, fuck it, I'm done. I quit. Right? But you just keep going, and I found for myself, if I can just realize and it's literal and I know that people, until they do it, will not understand it, sometimes I'm just like, just take the next damn step, dude, just do it and see what happens. And so, I'm curious, when you're in that place, how do you talk to yourself and how do you pull yourself to take that next moment?

Katie: So, I think all the time, like all day, all night, and you know, I have the ability to constantly be thinking and I like doing that. And so, running is the one and all these endurance challenges is like my sacred space where I don't have to think but I do have to focus. And so, I could feel like mentally very, like if I go on a 10-hour run, I feel very mentally drained from that intense focus. And so, before I even get into of course I'm going to have conversations and thoughts and that kind of thing, but like I do use my energy to focus more than think when doing these things and focusing to me looks like listening to my body and whether that's like my pacing, I listen to a metronome and the whole thing is, it's like active meditation, you get in the Zen mode and usually it doesn't take, like for you to get endorphins, it's gonna take probably 30-40 minutes. So, I don't even really enjoy it until I keep going and then the longer you go, the more endorphins you go and even the pain, I don't necessarily feel the pain of what I'm doing until a day or two later. And so, that's always a rude awakening to just be like so high on endorphin and then the next day you just can't even go up and down stairs and just walking super stiff. But one of my more recent runs was I am stationed in the Coast Guard here in Maine, and so I did 140-mile nonstop run, so that's 30 hours, you're not sleeping and not sleeping alone can put you in a weird mental state, being up that long. And so, it was around 1-32 that my friend, her phone said I had liked seven more miles and my watch, which I was doing everything based on my watch that I had five. And so, that whole run, like I didn't have mile markers, I didn't have people all along the way. I mean, everything was, the whole pacing, everything was based on the watch. And so, telling me I had two extra miles at that point, like I physically did not know if I could do two more miles, that's how like, you know, exhausted I was. And so, I broke down on the side of the road ripping up grass, having my little pity party and that was it. I mean, feeling sometimes just want permission to be felt and it ended up only being five miles anyway, so yay for that. But I'm all about, you know, being vulnerable and sharing that, and hard things feel hard, and again, not taking that personally and just knowing that's part of it and choice, you know, there's still that choice. And at a certain point you have to be like, you know, medically, am I causing damage because I do things so extreme that those are the types of conversations that I do have like, you can get rado, you can get all sorts of potentially very damaging things if you do it too far and so, I've been lucky not to have that. But giving yourself the permission to feel and focusing on kind of like that, the controllables and getting in that zone are ways that I find, you know, those hard moments, I could either prevent them or just let them, you know, not dominate the whole experience and keep going.

Michael: What's the thing that drives you like, because I think about endurance athletes and we've interviewed a few of them on the show and for a lot of them, which I think is really fascinating, it becomes the new addiction, right? Many of them have come through the steps programs you can kind of name a few of them. And for other people it's just like, there's always been like that switch, like that's the place that they feel alive. And so, I'm just really curious for yourself personally, like what drives you this? Cause I know there, and we kind of glazed over it, so I'm gonna go back to it. Like, there are people who are listening like, qait a second, you did what on a boat and win and by yourself and how long. So, I'm really curious, like, what is the thing that drives you? And I wanna rewind to kind of that spot, right? 22 years old, you're getting in this boat to literally row yourself across the Atlantic Ocean alone. Why?

Katie: Yeah. So, I can identify with a lot of those threads of like how someone might end up being so intensely into endurance like there's definitely people in my family that have addiction and I can probably identify with having an addictive personality. And I mean, there is something to be said about, like I was reading about like post traumatic growth and using experiences to kind of propel you forward. And I would say that some of the things like in my teen years formed in me, like that kind of inner resilience and self-reliance that through, you know, harder challenges. And so, I think that it was almost training ground for me to be able to do endurance. And a lot of people that I've seen too, who have had any kind of traumatic experiences, like I know how to kind of dissociate from my body and that's very helpful in endurance. You know, to an extent, like you don't wanna be, so dissociated from your own body that you don't know if you're doing something that could be potentially dangerous. But I think it was ingrained and it was almost like a survival kind of instinct in my teen years. And so, once those endurance events came to the picture, it was like applying the same skill sets of hard outside life experiences and applying it to an arena that you can actually create, you know, you could be creative and you could, create experiences. And I think what was particularly interesting for me for the row is I was so drawn to the idea of you do a marathon, you could quit whenever you want, you could see a coffee shop and just, you know, and then, you could just go home, take a shower, and you're on your way. But with the row, what really drew me to it is the impossibility like the worst form of punishment is solitary confinement. And so, I wanted to know, like, if all I had was myself, could I do it? And like, I just wanted to know how much we have in us to do these things and if I had a follow boat, I probably would've quit because if quitting was that easy, like at times I felt like quitting and I was like, well, it's gonna take them maybe two days to get here by the time they get here, I'm gonna change my mind so what's the point? But I liked being in a situation that the only, I was either gonna overcome it or die like I wanted something that intense because I wanted to see how far you can be driven and a part of it was curiosity, maybe a part of it was wanting to develop and work on things that, you know, I felt like I needed personally, like more, maybe self-confidence or self-awareness. And I am an introvert, so I do appreciate that kind of, you know, I don't think there's a lot of extroverts, rowing oceans or even, you know, some of these endurance challenges where you can't talk that much. And so, I did appreciate that more opportunity to reflect and just kind of be in my head a little bit too.

Michael: Yeah. I actually resonate with that a lot. For me, in my own experience at least, and I see this in a lot of people who come from backgrounds where they had to become self-reliant, self-sufficient to sometimes to a detriment and I personally have learned how to navigate this, of being hyper independent and recognizing like, because eventually, and especially as you get deeper into endurance sports, like you have to have teams like it's just a part of it, right? You have to have support, i.e., the person with you with the cell phone, right? And the list goes on and on, but there's something about figuring it out on your own that just reinforces your capability. And for me, I don't know if this was for you as well, but I've just come to find, and I haven't done a hundred mile runs and I haven't biked across America, I certainly have not roller bladed across Florida, but with the many of the things that I have done, even like this podcast, it's endurance 365 episodes a year like it is about pushing yourself into what can I do? How far can I push mentally, emotionally, physically, and then understanding that, that process. And I think, here's what it's interesting and where I'm going with this. I feel that many people view most endurance events no matter what they are as people punishing themselves. Right. And I've always found them as this is where people discover what they're really made of.

Katie: Yeah. I mean, that is something that I am very pro, like, this is fun, this should be fun, if you're not having fun, there's already parts of life that we have to do, you know, that aren't fun. So, if you're gonna be doing these things in your free time, they should probably be fun. And so, you know, like even I do some of the similar events like David Goggins does, and he's always super serious and I'm military as well. And so, I'm just like, you have way too many endorphins to be that, you know, unable to just smile. And I find a lot of the ultra-runners out of all the sports, you know, there's out of the cycling and swimming and all that. There's some very, like down to earth, you know, happy go lucky, really relaxed type people. So, it doesn't have to be that way and if it is, I would just say work on your mindset more than anything and finding the joy. And even if it's not these endurance things, just finding whatever it is that brings you joy and also gives you the opportunity to feel like, I mean, just knowing how we have a short life and yet there's just so many things that you can do and experience and it's just a beautiful thing.

Michael: How much of this for you is facing fear that you've created in your own mind about what you're capable of doing?

Katie: What do you mean by that?

Michael: I think that people get stuck in this idea of like, I can't, you know, fear comes and they play the role and you're stuck in this place where now you're looping around this idea of what you can and cannot do. The way that I kind of navigate my life is I move towards fear. I'm like, if I'm scared of it, like let's go ‘cause I know that's where I discover who I am in a deeper way. And so, I'm wondering, I guess the question really, if I were to parse it down is what, if any role does fear play in your life?

Katie: So, a lot of the decisions, like I don't have this list of all the challenges I wanna do in my life because every challenge leads to the next one, gives me the confidence to take the next one. I am very upfront and honest last year, I attempted and succeeded at a Guinness World Record for the most ultra-marathons run in a row. So, it was 11 days of running an ultra-marathon every day. And I was, you know, one of my posts beforehand is like, this is gonna be a grand adventure or an epic catastrophe, let's find out together. And so, I was so much humility and like, respect for endurance, and I could run a hundred miles and do a bunch of these races and I will go into it being like, anything could happen, there's no guarantees, no matter how many times you do it. So, I mean, I guess, there's not that much fear because there's not much to lose if your identity isn't what you accomplish or achieve like in my twenties, I'm 30 now. In my twenties, I thought my identity and all my worth came in, what I accomplished, how many people I helped to get clean water and that was it. And so, I think because faith is a part of my story now, I am so much more free to do things without worrying about failure because it's not like, I mean, God already knows what he made me capable of doing, and so, it's not like he's gonna be disappointed if I don't reach some kind of personal goal because he already knew and it's just using what you have. So, what's the big deal about, you know, that I think the biggest fear is usually failure and what's the big deal if your identity doesn't change whether you fail or succeed. But I think, a lot of these challenges have to do with a calling and I know, you know, I'm very like logic based, so I need to break down what that means. For me, a calling means something that like, I'm drawn to, it's the thing I wanna, like, I research, I spend my time reading about, I talk to people about, the thing I wonder about, like whether you're in the shower, just going on the walk like what is that thing that you are just drawn to like, and you wanna know and you're curious about and so, I think that is more the driver. And I guess one of the other like fears that I have is, I think it would be, looking back, like the greatest fear I have is like looking back, say I'm 80 years old, looking back at my life and just being filled with what ifs and if only these, and looking back and wondering what would my life be like if I lived the life I was called to, if I lived the life I was meant to? And I mean, that's it, I mean, we don't need people running more marathons, but we do need people to live the lives that they were meant to, and they were called to and show up to be their best and so, my greatest fear is that. And so, in some ways, I guess that is a fear that that drives me.

Michael: Yeah. I resonate with that a lot. And I think that, you know, for me it's altruism and its philanthropy and this conversation, these podcasts, the work that I do for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse and it's like, I know that that is for you water. And I remember the thing that drew me most to wanting to have you on this show was that, because growing up, and I've shared this on this show, ad nauseam, but at some point, when I was eight years old, I had to go and literally steal water to survive from our neighbor's house. And I grew up in America, I grew up in the United States, not in a place where people desperately need it, but were, instead because of various circumstances, I wasn't able to have a family that could afford it. And what I wanna go into and what I really wanna dive into is your work in that arena, I've traveled the world, I've lived in 12 different countries, I've been to like 40 now, and you see it all over the place that there's this desperate need for water, for clean water, for clean wells, for green clean systems in the trains, and so on and so forth. Talk to me about your journey to being an advocate to help people have clean water sources in their life.

Katie: Yeah, this feels like it needs to be said. I don't wanna think about clean water as a charity or a cause, which it is that, but even more, I think water is a basic human right. So, if we think of it more like that, like, you know, we should all have the right to have water that won't kill us, we have that on our earth. I mean, so I was living in Australia and they were having a drought, and I was going to college there and they had all these rules on, you know, if you could water your grass, if you could wash your car on this day. And every major headline, you'd always hear about this, the water and how it might run out and at the same time I was studying environmental science. And so, one teacher just casually said something about the wars of the future will be fought because of water. And in some countries, like especially in Africa, there are wars over water. And I was, maybe 20 when I found out about this and I learned more, I was like, wait, what? Like people are killing each other just so they can have clean water like this is what I wasted my whole life like this is the thing that back in Ohio on the Great Lakes, you know, we have water parks and golf courses is a one thing that anyone could get any, like if you go in restaurant, anyone could get it for free, no one's charging for that because it's just infinite, you know, never ending and always accessible. And so, I think really it was anger, I mean, I got really angry learning about it because, I mean, I was just like, this is not right, we could do better than this like, what the heck? Like we have planes, we have this, we have all this technology. And what really, you know, I mean, dug it even more is it's not like you have to put hundreds and millions of dollars into research, we already know how to do these things, there are already ways to filter water and there are solutions and yes, you have to ha maintain them and there's ongoing project costs, but it's a problem that has a solution. And at the time it was a billion people right now it's around 780 million people. So, it is getting better but when it was a billion, that was one in six people and as a 20-year-old, I was thinking about like, I've been on this planet for 20 years and I didn't know that one in six people that I never even, like, I just felt so ignorant and that felt wrong to me too like, how is this not in the news all the time? Like that so many people are dying, like the biggest issue. And so, it's so easy to wanna do something about water when you know, if you care about health, if you care about the environment, if you care about kids, if you care about education, if you care about women, I mean, it touches everything, if you care about poverty and there are projects a lot more now here in the United States too. And that's one of the projects that I'm currently fundraising for out in the Navajo Nation. So, they're in partnership with Dig Deep, they are doing some really great work and. Utah and Arizona and New Mexico. So, I mean, $50 that's all it takes to get one-person clean water in a lot of these projects and that's for life. In the big picture so I mean, we can do this, we can do this clean water thing, you know?

Michael: Yeah, possible. I totally agree with you. And, you know, there's a lot of different charities that I send money to each month. One is for Wells in Africa, one is for OER Operation Underground Railroad, if you're familiar with helping save children from sex trafficking and there's a couple others. And I think that people fill this weirdness about being philanthropic with their money because there's this thing in their head where it's like, $10 doesn't matter and I'm like, yeah, but it does. Like, I recall at one point, and I don't know where you're at on this, but your goal is to bring a hundred thousand people clean water. How close are you to that and have you surpassed it?

Katie: So, it's a getting close to 50,000 and I am kind of setting, laying down some of the groundwork for my next campaign. And I think that's gonna be the one that, you know, we surpassed that. I'm really excited about the next adventure because I will likely be able to visit all these water projects on the route and they're going to be like more like sawyer water filters. So, at home ones that are, I mean, it really doesn't get much cheaper than the sawyer filters and they're very effective, they can last for over 10 years that's what I use when I go on adventures so it's cool to know that that's what I use, that's what a lot of outdoor people here in the United States use and it works and it's just as easy as giving someone one of these filters.

Michael: So, what does it take to get to this remainder of 750 million people? Like what is it gonna take us from us as a society and a species and a race to be able to do that?

Katie: Yeah, I wish I like could answer that with more certainty. A part of my lane, I like kinda stay in my lane of like, I'm not an engineer. I don't know, but I know that, I mean, from where I stand, it's a funding issue, that's what's standing in the way of people and clean water. So, I guess you would have to take that big number and times it by 50 and figure out how many millions or trillions of dollars it would be to get there. But to your point like about it takes a lot of people doing a little thing, it does not take one, you know that's how most things are, you know? A lot of people doing a little bit.

Michael: Yeah, very much so. And the little things add up it becomes exponential at points, right? Because it starts with one, and it always starts with that first decision, that first step, that first effort. And even though it may seem insurmountable, like in time, like I believe this. As humans, the only thing keeping us from reaching our goal is just simply time like, and if you can kind of like wrap your head around that and sit in it and go, this is the goal. And so, between now and the moment of that, and instead of it being so wrapped time, ‘cuz you know, I think that's where people fell a lot, they go, I'm gonna do it in X amount of time. I'm like, well what if you just did it right? What if you just did the thing, you said you were gonna do would that play a role in your life? You know, I even teach my clients this when I'm coaching them. I'm like, guys, look, the thing that we need to do is just create the change, would that say we need to create the change now? ‘Cuz I'll tell you this, it's taken 12 years for me to get where I am and to get to where I want to go is probably another 50 like, I highly anticipate I'm gonna be dead before I end generational trauma and abuse in my lifetime. But we plant the seeds today because they come exponential. When you think about the image of the world that you get to leave behind and the thing that you get to create, like what does that look like for you and what does it feel like for you?

Katie: I mean, I'm very like attached to everyone everywhere having clean water. I'm very personally, I feel that the hundred thousand is doable and with the right partners and sponsors. But I mean, that's always been something that I've felt like heavy on my heart of just wanting to go big for water. And what's also very encouraging is, water, you can actually see that impact like, on my website I have every single project on Google Maps with pictures and the number of people, and I can visit these projects because I have visited these projects, but a part of me doesn't wanna get too attached to the end result and even though I have those numbers in mind, kind of like if you are really honed in on what's the next best step for me, that kind of leads you to those end results. So, that's another thing I'm mindful of just like, is this the next best step and not being so attached to this end result that I might be even missing out on a better opportunity or something that could lead to something bigger.

Michael: Would it be fair to say then that you look at that as like a marker and a direction to move towards, but not like the pan ultimate result?

Katie: Yeah, exactly. And also have to say that, I mean, it's not me anyways, raising these kinds of funds it's really the people. I mean, I'm not doing it, I'm just, you know, bringing attention to it. But at the end of the day, the people that deserve that credit are the ones who actually donated. So, I think it's important to kind of, for me at least, to know that it's really about the people and what their action just as much as my own.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's important like, I try to always recognize myself for doing these things, but to also simultaneously realize Tom Bilyeu told me the most important thing I think anyone's ever told me he said, you have to do this, but the second you make it about you, you lose. And I remember that being like, just such a powerful thought. Like, have you always had that thought in your head in that similarity? Or was there a moment where you're like, wait a second, this isn't really about me? Cause I'll say this for me, initially, I was like, Oh yeah, I'm gonna change the freaking world. I'm gonna be a rock service is about me. And then I realized like, nope, that doesn't feel true anymore.

Katie: I mean, I guess maybe faith has something to do with that. Like you know, I could be a hard worker, that's what I could say, I've achieved these successes in endurance because I'm a hard worker, but truthfully being hard working some people are born with that trait and some people aren't. And so, can I really take credit for something that I was given? And so, if I am kind of using faith as a foundation of where I live, then God gave me all of my abilities. And so, can I really take credit for being hardworking? And I mean, you could be hardworking and not use your gift, not use your talent, but I think it's recognizing that I didn't make me like in that sense, like taking credit for your characteristics or your strengths or your weaknesses, it can be very liberating when you don't have that kind of attachment because a lot of it, I think especially doing the row, like if I cared too much about some kind of external validation, I probably wouldn't even have done anything at all because, I mean, I started out the gates with like the New York Times being like, Bam, this girl's not gonna make it, check her out. And that was like my biggest article because I got in an accident on Lake Erie and nearly destroyed my boat. So, I didn't come out with like this raging support and so not being super attached to positive or negative kinds of feedback and just really honing in on what am I called to do, there's a lot of chatter that you can just quiet when that positive or negative doesn't really affect you, and you're just focused on your mission, your calling, and kind of leading with that.

Michael: Yeah, that's beautiful. And always think about it like this like there are always gonna be people who like you and people who don't and neither of those things have anything to do with you. And there's freedom in that because then you gotta go, wait a second, what actually matters here? And again, that comes back to this thesis that I have about, the most important thing is about how you feel about yourself when you look in that mirror ‘cause every day there are people who will love you and they will cherish you and put you on a pedestal and then there's the New York Times, right? And so, but if you focus on that instead of the mission, you're gonna ultimately capsize, right? I mean, unless you have a right sizing boat but that's a whole another conversation. This conversation, however been really incredible. Katie, for people who want to learn more about you, who want to get involved, who want to support your mission, can you tell them where they can find you?

Katie: Yeah. So, my website is katiespotz.com if you'd like to support the cause, there's a donate button there. And then I'm on Instagram @katiespotz and Facebook at hellokatiespotz.

Michael: Brilliant. And of course, with the links and the show notes for the audience. My last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Katie: To be unbroken is to be in touch with who you are, not based on fear, but joy.

Michael: Beautifully said. Thank you so much for being here, my friend. Unbroken Nation. Thank you so much for listening.

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Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Katie SpotzProfile Photo

Katie Spotz


Meet Katie. She is an endurance athlete, charitable ambassador, author, and world-record holder. The list of accomplishments to her name is long, and includes five Ironman triathlons, cycling across the country, a 325-mile river swim, running 100 miles nonstop in under 20 hours, and a solo row across the Atlantic Ocean.

But this wasn’t just any row; when Katie arrived in Guyana, South America, after 70 days at sea, she set a world record for the youngest ever solo ocean rower and the only American to row solo from Africa to South America.

Katie became the 1st person to run 138-miles nonstop across Maine in 33 hours, raising funds for a clean water project in Tanzania. Most recently, Katie set a new Guinness World Record for the most consecutive days to run an ultramarathon distance in Run4Water. Her 341-mile journey began in Cincinnati and finished in Cleveland, Ohio, after running 11 ultra-marathons for 11 days consecutively to fund 11 water projects in Uganda.