Hi, I’m Nikola, and what makes me unique in the executive coaching world is that I am among very few former professional athletes who have achieved a top 10 in the World across 3 different sports disciplines.

Throughout my 15-year Olympic career, I’ve relied on determination, creativeness, and entrepreneurial prowess to manage my campaign, raising more than $1.8M in the process.

I may have had full creative control over my career and been passionate about it, but the road to the top was long and lonely. I spent a lot of time in my own head, strategizing and planning, and struggled to find people who could relate to the special brand of isolation that came with being an Olympic athlete. 

Because of my experience, I deeply empathize with people who put their hearts and backbones into achieving their goals. I have a comprehensive understanding of the mental and physical strength it takes to become one of the best, and I know the toll it takes on your physical, mental, and spiritual health, particularly if no support system or strategy is in place to establish a healthy work/life balance.

Being at the top of my field came with its share of difficulties, and retiring from the world of competitive sports was just as challenging. While my Olympic story may have been unique, the depression I experienced when my career came to a close wasn’t. I had prepared for my retirement and was already certified as an executive coach, but I still struggled with feelings of sadness over the loss of my identity as a professional athlete. To go from a celebrated Olympian to what felt like a nobody at the time was hard. Equally as difficult was processing the shame I felt over my feelings: “I shouldn’t be upset. Look at the career I’ve had! And now I’m an executive coach! There is so much to celebrate!”

I wanted to be excited about my life but I wasn’t, and realized I needed help to process the sadness I felt over the loss of my career. A catalyst for my desire to seek help from my own coach was the memory of my father, who passed away suddenly and tragically when I was just 19 years old. 

Transitioning into retirement, he was excited to begin doing the things he had always dreamed of doing, but had put off until later when he thought he would have more time. Unfortunately, a late-stage cancer diagnosis left him with only a few months to live, and during the heartbreaking process of his passing he shared some words that I rely on to fuel me with motivation whenever I experience the uncertainty and self-doubt that come with transitions:

Live your dreams now because you never know when it will be too late. 

Today I use my experience as an Olympian and executive coach to help others. Guiding people towards the achievement of their goals and the realization of their inherent strengths is something I am passionate about, and I’m incredibly grateful to be able to do what I love every day through the establishment of my company, Own Your Podium.

Thank you for reading this far and I hope to connect with you soon. Please contact me to set up a call to discuss how I can help you Own Your Podium. I’d love to hear from you. 

Dare to Dream, Achieve, and Succeed with me. 

Nikola Girke