Interview GUDMUNDUR THORARINSSON
You recently moved to New York to play for New York FC – with ONE word, describe your impression this far of your new club?
In a bigger perspective, a longer time frame, what are you longing for?
I’m longing for freedom to be able to be what I always have wished to be. The last couple of years I’ve started notice how strong other people´s opinions have influenced me. But my own emotions has been a real constrictor for me too. It has really been holding me back and stopped me from being my best.
Actually, it has stopped me from being me.
The fear of judgments from other people have left me with so much inside me that I’m longing to express. But I feel now that I’ve started to express this in different forms, which I really enjoy.
I really want to go as far as I can. Create impactful, strong and real music, and play soccer at the highest level possible.
I need to handle my own insecurities to be able to do that. I know I need to let go of people around me that don’t have the same fire as I do, or create boundaries when I’m around people with negative energy.
A couple of years ago I felt shame that I was “going further” then some people around me: Why am I allowed to go for it if it means to see people around me stay in the same place, maybe they like to be there, I don’t know, but it created a strange dynamic within myself.
I really want to go for my dreams and goals, but I’m longing to feel a greater freedom, more harmony, inside of myself during the work. A bigger sense of inner peace, not only when I’m working, but when I live my life.
What type of feelings are you looking for? Feelings that you enjoy having the most?
I love the feeling I have inside of me when I can be brutally honest with myself and how I see life. And brutally honest about how I see others as well.
To see life and different situations and contexts that I’m in, and see how fucked up I am sometimes – and accept that.
Being aware, look at myself, and see how affected I actually get sometimes by feelings and external circumstances. And then have the disciplined, even detached, inner dialogue to be able to actively choose to not react to it.
When I have that awareness of myself and my surroundings, and when I can accept myself and the situation totally, that’s a feeling, a state, I really like.
What type of feeling that is, I don’t know.
I think it’s a sense of freedom. Acceptance that merge into freedom. Or joy or something like that. But freedom is the ultimate work, the ultimate feeling.
Freedom from others. Freedom inside myself. Freedom to create. And play.
Freedom to explore without any attachments. Wow.
What is your motivation for life? How do you make your days meaningful and important to YOU?
It’s really hard to put my finger on my motivation for life. What comes up now is that I really want to give joy to others. And that I really want to be near others when they need it. I don’t have the right words for it, I just feel that it’s something I want to do.
I think it’s about love. Give hugs. Say positive things.
And also to really listen, which is something I need to get better at. I have had, and I have right now, so many big, like endless questions about myself and about life that consume me at times. Not as much now compared to a couple of years ago, but still. I get stuck in my own thoughts and overwhelming questions, and that really affect my listening.
Are your days meaningful?
I think so now.
I see my life in a different way now, where the details everyday gives me a great sense of meaning. Details that really aren’t details, but really important behaviors, routines and preparations.
When I was younger I always just cared about the game, not what’s leading up to a good performance. It was always just about the game, or just the finished song, not the ”details” that prepare you for your best performance. Now when I enjoy so much more than just the game, the outcome, it brings meaning to every day.
Now I know that enough sleep is so important. To wake up in time and eat a good breakfast isn’t details, it is profound. It really impacts the outcome, and not just on games, but on every training leading up to the game, which is so important.
So now when I’m more focused on the process, on the work that has to be done as good as it possibly can, including preparations, then everyday has gotten a whole new meaning and a much bigger importance to me.
You are a professional soccer player, and also extremely talanted as a musical artist, but bigger than that, bigger than goals and hits, what is your ultimate purpose in life? What are you here to do?
I’m here trying to spread love.
Is there something you are afraid of not being able to do/accomplish/create during your time on earth?
Mostly two different things. One in my career and one for life in general.
In my personal life I’m scared about not having that kind of relationship with my family that I want to have. I’m really scared of that.
It’s important to understand that every person you meet is a result of what they have experienced in their life. There is so much strength in being able to look at yourself and admit your weaknesses, but there are so many people that aren’t able to do that.
They don’t have the inner strength, or even the awareness that they are struggling or how they impact the people around them .
I’m really scared that this lack of awareness, this type of denial, will lead to a family bond that isn’t as good as I want it to be.
As good as it could be.
It really requires hard work, and I’m afraid that the awareness and discipline required, the responsibility that is required, are not what it needs to be in order to have the best relations. And when denial is in the way, it takes even more time and energy, from everyone.
To not being able to change this, it hurts.
In my career I’m afraid to not be able to play really big games. Like Champions league.
I’m 28 years old, so the chance is not that big that it will happen, but it is a really nice picture to have in my head, it motivates me so much, and I will keep that picture there in my head. Keep letting these games motivate me to train as hard as I can, as long as I’m still playing.
In my music career I want to have a global hit. But having two big dreams, the intense desire in two fields. It takes so much energy to wrestle with two paths. All the ups and downs that come with just one process, at times that’s just a lot to handle.
Is it healthy to have these kinds of dreams? I’m not sure. It often drains me.
Too often it drains me.
I have so many thoughts and ideas. Emotions that come from both my will to be my best in the games I play, but also to do my best in training and preparations everyday.
My will to win, my will to create.
But sometimes I don’t even want to create because there are so much coming into my head.
It’s a lot.
It sometimes overwhelmes me and make me lose the direction and my focus on the behaviors that actually make me better.
With big dreams and goals we really need to break them down to small parts that we can control and that are manageable. Create good routines around them that we know take us forward.
And have the discipline to both do what we say we will do, but also discipline to let go of all the other things in our heads.
That is constructive.
During the part of your life where you felt the least control over your own life – when was that, who had the control and influenced the way you felt and took decisions?
I felt really powerless because of alcoholism that was around me. It’s still around me and it still affects me, but the last couple of years I have become so much better at having a distance to it. But it has taken me so, so much energy to learn how to deal with it in a better way.
I mean, it affects you in so many ways. The shame that comes with codependency makes it so hard to enjoy life. It’s almost like you’re not allowed to be happy or to enjoy a beautiful day or beautiful things.
I can see everything more clearly now, and set boundaries, which helps, but as I said earlier, when the intensity of that shame is less, then bad conscience shows up instead. Like, ”now I’m not feeling shame anymore, what does that say about me???”
It is so strange. So complex.
When did you become aware of it, and what was the thoughts and behaviors that helped you come back to who you are?
Ultimately I reached a point within myself where desperation proceed to a form of awakening that I needed to do the work.
Start seing the world, this situation, myself, everything, exactly as it is without any filter.
And then work from there. From the truth. However hard it is.
Which are your 2-3 strongest standards?
Values, perspectives and/or habits that form a really strong foundation in your life?
Work ethic! I really get that I need to work so incredible hard to reach my goals, and I am ready to do it.
This comes automatically for me. Ever since I was a child I have worked really hard.
Always done extra. Extra in the gym, extra running. I have always trained more so that I would be better trained than everyone else.
I was early to practice and stayed longer after to work on things. And I still do all these things. The power of habit, I think that’s a huge part of being successful.
And details. Isn’t caring about details also part of work ethic??? I think so!
To really make an effort to master every detail. Actually, I’m not thinking about details as details. Details together become a huge part of the progress.
And I mean more than just details on the pitch or in the gym. Like, am I a clean person? Do I wear clean clothes? Do I make the bed every morning? How’s my apartment look like?
Someone maybe tells me ”but you are a soccer player…”.
Yes. But if I do all these things as good as I can, I will bring momentum and high standards and a really good feeling with me to practice.
It builds up. For sure.
And it’s the other way around as well. I’m equally sure at that!
If I’m not doing these things. If I’m sluggish and mindless in my everyday life, training will not be as focused and intense either. The feeling wouldn’t be as sharp and it wouldn’t be any momentum or flow. You wouldn’t contribute to the team either, because if you can’t take care of yourself, it’s impossible to take care or help somebody else.
Everything connects in how you live your life and in how you talk to yourself. What you allow and what you are not allowing for yourself. It’s about standards.
What are your standards, and do you hold yourself accountable to live them?
A different kind of standard for me is LOVE.
Everything I’ve been through, wrestled with and learned, have given me a very strong sense of compassion for other people who struggle. And I feel love for them. I want to, no I need to spread love to them. Talk about my dark sides, my shame. Create some space for them.
So love for me is a standard. A filter that helps me to be strong and share all of this. Being vulnerable. Letting love be the ultimate source.
That’s a standard to me.
What do you really vibe with in another person?
People who really are who they are. You see, you feel, when a person is authentic.
You see it over time. How these people handle both good and bad days. They are still themselves.
When a person can show their insecurities, it gives me courage to show mine. I really love that in another person. How a person like that makes me feel. I feel secure. Acceptance. Without this I simply can’t vibe with another person.
What do you not vibe with at all?
A person who makes other people feel small. Who doesn’t have any respect.
But I love peope with confidence! Really love it.
A person who is really good at something, and who knows it, but who still has the greatest respect and empathy for others, no matter who they are or what they choose to do with their life. Love.
Is it easy for you to accept yourself?
No this is one of the hardest things for me.
It is so difficult for me to accept that I lose the control over myself sometimes. I know it so well, but I still can’t control it.
It’s fucking hard to accept.
As I said in the beginning, the best feeling is when I can accept myself, accept the brutal truth and just be with it, but most of the time I really struggle with it. Especially when I’m laying in bed and should sleep. I can’t.
Very often I need to go to my table and write on a song. That often is bad. But once in a while it comes out a really good song. Then it’s good, haha!
But this internal war is not easy for me to accept.
Of all the different parts in your life, which one is the part that gives you the most mental stimulation?
200% when I meet someone who just gets me! A deep connection with another human being who is authentic. When the vibe is on fire. Talk about life, art, psychology, training, mindset, desires, goals and the creative process.
That’s what I live for.
When you feel flow when you are making music, or on the soccer pitch, how is your state of mind then? How does your body feel? What are you thinking?
It’s simple. I feel like I am 7 years old.
I don’t think about anything, I just am. Just playing. I don’t feel anything. No pain, no restrictions. It’s just happiness.
Do you know how you can enter that state of being? Do you know what triggers flow for you?
I think that I need some special circumstances to reach that state, that I’m not in control over.
No matter if it is soccer or music, I need talented people around me. People who want to do their best that particular game or session. This is not always the case though, especially in soccer.
I also play better when it’s a lot of people in the stands. Much rather 30.000 people than 5.000 people. This helps me a lot to enter flow. So both a lot of people who watch the game and teammates that are in the same state help me, but this is not in my control.
If I say that deep focus can be a trigger, an entry to flow?
I’m not good at it. I think I need the external factors to reach flow. I need pressure, which of course requires deep focus, so that’s right. But I’m not good at reaching it by myself. Like when I write music, it’s so much different thoughts and feelings and incoming stimuli that deep focus is far away. Or maybe all of those thoughts is deep focus? I don’t know, it’s just a lot. But when I play big games with a lot of people watching, that helps tremendously.
I need that pressure. I crave it.
If a person is successful in life by your measurements – how is one then?
A person who goes his own way. Who is secure about who he is, and who has the courage to live and express it.
It’s 100% about how one is, not anything about what title or how much money he has. It’s about going your own way, unapologetically. To stand up for your opinions. I don’t care about what these opinions are about, as long as you have respect for the fact that other people can think and view things, life, differently.
A person who is really clear, really brave, and precise in his way to live, but also extremely curious about others.
Love love LOVE that.
What is a successful life for you?
Being able to do what I love every day. Soccer and music.
When I can figure out how to live more time in alignment with WHO I AM, live my standards and think less about what other people think or want or like – then I have a really successful life.
And good relationships with my family and friends. Of course.
Do you think you are worthy of success?
I have done many mistakes, so earlier in life I thought that I wasn’t worthy of success.
But now… I work so unbelievably hard every, every day. With myself, with my soccer, with my music. I do my best to succeed and to handle myself in a more optimal way.
That’s what I do; working to be the best I can be. So now, with this amount of work, of constantly adjustments, I think I’m worthy of success.
I’m mean, who isn’t worthy of success who is always doing his best and at the same time have respect for others?
Everyone who do that is worthy of success. No doubt.
What do you feel is the most rewarding thing to get complimented for by other people?
I don’t think that compliment has come yet. Haha.
I can’t put words to it, and I don’t think that compliment will come. It’s so deep. It’s not about the doing part of life, that’s for sure.
To build a winning team, what do you think is required?
Competition that is honest. A leader/trainer/coach that is honest.
Who cultivates a competition in a team that is equal, so that everyone wants to be their best and wants to contribute to the success of the team.
If the coach isn’t honest and just says a lot of things to the players that they ”want to hear”, in order to keep them happy, it will never work.
They will not be happy when things are unclear. When the words doesn’t match the actions.
It will create subgroups, and pretty quickly you will have different forces in a ”team” that don’t work for the success of the whole team.
It starts with the leader, but of course it’s also so important to have smart players, who wants to be their best but that also have great respect for other players and their journey. Players who really want to win, and who understand the importance of the team in order to be successful.
What is the biggest threat against being a really successful team?
I think subgroups are really bad. Smaller groups in the team that work for themselves instead of working for the success of the whole team. Not good.
Lack of trust, lack of boundaries and discipline, and a low confidence for the management will eventually lead to a divided team. Then it’s not a team.
What do you think is required for a person to reach their highest potential, no matter domain?
WORK ETHIC. And the understanding of that it will take time before you see the results of all the work you’ve putted in. That it will take time before you see any results.
You also need to be mentally strong and disciplined, so that you can handle every obstacle, setback and harder times that will come with the pursuit of your highest potential. You can’t avoid it, but you can handle it.
The discipline to stay the course, to trust your work and to trust yourself.
The resilience to be able to keep moving forward.
Of course I will also answer that you need to have control over yourself. Handle your thoughts and work hard to not be controlled by other people.
Work hard to live your standards, not someone else’s.
What do you think is required to be a leader of the world?
In my opinion leaders must have a vulnerable side. I can’t follow a leader who is not real and genuine. People who just talk, who just demonstrate something without a real connection or deeper understanding for the people he or she is talking to, it doesn’t work.
Everyone has their difficulties and for me a leader who is open about his weaknesses gets me every time. For me that is confidence and I respect that. Then we all have our strengths also and it’s important as a leader to be aware of that he can use both his strengths and weaknesses to get to people and work with them.
For a leader of Self?
Haha if I knew!!
But okey. You need to have boundaries. Respect who you really are and how you want to live your life. Like really respect and celebrate who you are, but also being disciplined to keep living your standards. It’s easy to get lost.
I don’t want it to sound like I have this figured out, but I really believe that this is important to be a leader of Self, and to live your best life.
For a person to live one’s best life, what do you think are three really powerful standards/tools/skills/perspectives to carry with you through life?
Being disciplined at doing the details with 100% accuracy. If you do every detail 100%, it will not be details anymore. It will be big things.
Prepare yourself for what’s coming. For me it is to eat and sleep right, but also to train hard and take care of my recovery in different ways that are not just about nutrition and sleep.
The big game is what everyone will see, but it is the preparation for them that is the important work.
Preparation will help you perform at your best when it matters the most.
Actually, almost anything you do is preparation.
A standard is also to allow yourself to enjoy the journey, trying to see the good in what we have around us. Even though your working hard and have your goals to reach every now and then there is a chance to take a deep breath and be thankful for the moment and the road we are driving.
I am seeing that more and more.
Lastly, with ONE word – what is your life about?
I need two. Learning. Love.
Marcus Falk Olander