Former All Black and rugby league star Sonny Bill Williams said his drive to provide for his family as a young man was "almost psychotic", but led to his enormously successful career.
The 36-year-old multi-code sports star joined former Olympian Beatrice Faumuina and Newstalk ZB newsreader Niva Retimanu on the first episode of their new podcast, Straight Up.
The series sees Beatrice and Niva talk with various high-profile New Zealanders from different walks of life to explore their journeys, their struggles, and how they overcame the obstacles in their path.
In the episode, Williams reflected on the lessons he has learnt from his 17-year professional sporting career, which was kickstarted he was a teenager and was offered a contract to play for the Bulldogs' junior side in Sydney.
Williams said he was motivated to succeed on the field in order to provide for his family.
"I just had that picture of buying my mum a house with wallpaper. It's crazy to think that drove me so much. It was almost psychotic."
He said his first month-long training camp was "like a punch in the face" and he considered not returning, but was motivated by his brother to take up the opportunity.
"He said 'Man, you better go, cause if you stay, you'll end up like me'.
"That type of thing drove me to go back. Deep down, I knew I wasn't going to end up much. I wasn't going to get mum that house."
Williams retired from rugby union and league in March this year, and has since released an autobiography, You Can't Stop the Sun From Shining, and returned to the boxing ring.
Reflecting on his current frame of mind, Williams said he believes he is a better human now he can take the lessons from his experiences and put them into action in his daily life.
"I feel like I know my strengths and my weaknesses a lot better throughout my journey. Taking that same discipline, the discipline to succeed in the sporting world, I've taken that same approach and put it into myself as a man.
"It makes me grateful to be in a place where I can think about thriving," Williams told Straight Up.
"When I grew up, like a lot of us, we couldn't think about thriving as it was all about surviving."
He said one of the most uplifting things he has done in recent years is, after struggling to identify as "white enough" or "Samoan enough" as a child, to have better educated himself on his Samoan side and his people's history.
"This whole process, schooling up myself about our beautiful people, really hit my empathetic heart."
Williams also reflected on the trials and tribulations he went through as a young athlete, saying that the privileges that come with a sporting career "strokes your ego" but it hid the good side of himself, which has been brought out through his faith and educating himself.
"When I look at these young sportsmen and sportswomen making these mistakes, my empathetic heart goes out to them. We need to understand these young people in society are going to make mistakes, just like I did," he said.
While he admits it could be tough, Williams said he is thankful for his experiences.
"I wouldn't be able to sit here and think of some of those amazing highs I was able to achieve, but also those struggles I had, I wouldn't be able to sit here and say I learnt from my mistakes."