This week’s conversation is with Women’s Senior National Team Water Polo head coach Adam Krikorian on competition, relationships, and sustaining success.

Since taking over the Women’s Senior National Team, Adam Krikorian has been just about perfect.

From his arrival in 2009 Team USA has competed in 18 major FINA Championships and come away with Gold in 15. This includes the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, 2009, 2015, and 2017 FINA World Championships, the 2010 and 2014 FINA World Cups, seven FINA World League Super Final crowns and the 2016 Olympic Qualification Tournament.

He’s helped the United States maintain a number-one world ranking for the majority of his tenure.

Following the 2016 Olympic Games, Krikorian was named Coach of the Games by the USOC at the Team USA Awards.  And in early 2017, Krikorian was also honored by the Los Angeles Sports Council and the LA Sports Awards by receiving the first ever “Extraordinary Achievement In Olympic Sport” honors.

Based on Adam’s impressive resume, you might expect Adam’s definition of success to align with winning, but this isn’t the case.

In Adam’s first year coaching the national team, they won gold at the world championships yet Adam described it as one of his most frustrating and least satisfying moments as a coach because the culture and relationships weren’t right.

For Adam, it’s not about selecting the best athletes but it’s about selecting the best team and there’s so many variables that go into that.

Building great relationships is at the core of Adam’s coaching philosophy and in this conversation we learn about the factors that impact these relationships, how Adam goes about selecting players and creates an environment where people can be honest with others and themselves.

We also discuss why Adam’s competitive fire, which has driven him his whole life, can be both a blessing and a curse.

There is so much packed into this conversation – in Adam’s words, “Mastery is the journey of trying to become the best version of yourself.” And I hope this conversation helps you get a little bit further on your own journey.

“Be humble enough to prepare but confident enough to perform.”

In This Episode:

  • 2 older brothers played a big role in his life growing up – drove him to be very competitive
  • From spaghetti to sport to life – how you can miss the moment if you’re caught up in the end result
  • His passion leading to a bad temper and how he’s gone about harnessing it
  • Where his competitive mindset came from, how he looks for it and cultivates it in others
  • Why he’s always had such high expectations for himself and why it was both good and bad
  • What he looks for when selecting who will make the Olympic Team
  • The importance of being honest with yourself and why it starts with self-evaluation
  • How he gets his team to be honest with each other and why it’s so tricky
  • Relationships and coaching
  • What he does with talent that isn’t good for the culture
  • How he goes about making hard decisions and letting people go that he cares about
  • Where confidence comes from
  • His process for putting good thoughts into action
  • How he looks at failure
  • Getting to know John Wooden personally and how it affected his views on success
  • Why confidence and humility are at the heart of his philosophy


Listen via: iTunes | Android | Stitcher | Pocket Casts |  RSS



“The reason I love our sport is because it’s difficult and because you’re constantly fighting adversity all the time. Not just physically but the mental challenges as well.”

“Mastery is the journey of trying to become the best version of yourself.”

“It’s not about selecting the best athletes but it’s about selecting the best team and there’s so many variables that go into that.”


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Adam Krikorian is an American water polo coach and the head coach of the United States women's national water polo team. He coached the team to gold medals at both the 2012 Olympic Games and 2016 Olympic Games.