Yet in the last two months, he has made more financial wealth than he used to make in 20 years. Sitting in his plush penthouse on the Sunshine Coast, he reflected on how things were for him in 1998. “I had walked away from the movie industry,” he said, “and here I was homeless again. One thing that did happen is that I made a mental calculation. I looked at my father’s life. My dad is my number one hero of all time. He’s the hardest working man with the most integrity I’d ever met. I love my dad dearly, and yet I saw my dad’s life, and I finally discovered the truth: that my dad was lied to.”
The lie was that he thought his hard work was going to give him rewards and it didn’t. “He was struggling at the end of his life financially and with his health, and I realised that at 38, I needed to make a right turn now. My dad was much more efficient than me, a much better worker, a better saver with money and all that stuff and didn’t have the results to show for it.
A Change is Required
“I knew I had no chance unless I did something dramatically different. That’s when I applied everything that I teach to my own life and consistently. That’s the key. You have to be consistent. You don’t go to the gym once, work out, and you’re in shape for the rest of your life, it’s about being consistent.
“I went from zero to hero quite fast. It’s been like having my head pulled through a funnel. My career’s been building so fast.”
The success coach is now a multi-millionaire who proudly calls Kawana Waters on the Sunshine Coast his new home. He still struggles like the rest of us, but it’s his ‘attitude of gratitude’ and winning strategies that have helped pull him through.
Ripped Off and Deserted
Despite his fast rise to fame, last year he faced some of his biggest battles to date. “Promoters we were working with in New Zealand for the last four years literally ripped me off for tens of thousands of dollars,” he reveals.
Then his wife of eight years, Marie, left the marriage and his father died from cancer at age 75. With three kinds of cancer, he was given six months to live and made it three days.
While Kurek was initially devastated, he overcame the obstacles by asking the question, “What’s great about this?”
About his wife the answer was: “Well, I had eight great years with Marie, we’re ending everything peacefully and lovingly. I still have a great friend out of it. We had magical experiences, so I’m grateful for what I had instead of upset for what I’ve lost.
“See, that’s how love would respond and it’s been a big transformation because the helicopter crash wasn’t as devastating to me as my wife leaving me, and yet the crash took me two years to get over, and my marriage took me a few weeks to move on.”
Not a lot of Time
As for his father’s death, Kurek appreciates the fact he was the last person to talk to him on the phone before he passed away. “I said, ‘Dad, it’s Kurek. I know we don’t have a lot of time right now, but I just have to tell you I will always love you. I will always make you proud. Surrender, give up the fight and go to peace.
“My dad smiled, he knew it was me, he closed his eyes and a few moments later, he passed away. Again, the first thing I asked was ‘What’s great about this?’ At least my dad died when I was 44 and not 4, 14 or 4 months.”
Putting it in another context, he says, “Some soldiers in Iraq never get to see their kids. My father and I had a great relationship where at least I got to say those final words to him and say goodbye to him.”
Other bonuses were that he didn’t suffer: that if he would have made it six months, the three kinds of cancers would have been devastatingly painful – and Kurek’s stepmother and love of his father’s life was with him in the final moments.
“Then I also realised, my mum’s still alive so I mourned at my dad’s funeral and instantly I took my mum out, spoiled her and I talk to her everyday now.”
The helicopter crash Kurek refers to was in the movie Delta Force 2, where he starred alongside Chuck Norris in the Philippines in 1989. He had a group of mates aboard a helicopter in one of the scenes when the engine malfunctioned and nosedived 800 feet down the side of the mountain into the road at the bottom of the hill.
Kurek had gotten off the helicopter just before it went up, saving his life. “I was the first one to get to the wreck, running down the hill at high speed,” said Kurek. “I came to discover there were bodies all over the inside of the wreck. One by one, I started pulling people out. More people were coming down the hill to help. By the time I could get to Mike (one of his best friends, Mike Graham) who was still seat-belted to the floor of the helicopter because the helicopter had fallen over, it now looked like he was kind of levitating because he was stuck to the wall.
“As I went in to get him out last, the helicopter burst into flames. Mike was on fire and I climbed in to get him out. By the time I could get him out, because his seatbelt finally burned through, his whole body was on fire.
“As I got him out, they hit him with fire extinguishers, tried to put his skin out. The cameraman was now trapped, flat and dead underneath the helicopter. He fell and the chopper landed on him, and so I squatted down and lifted it up enough so we could drag him out – and then Kenny Gibson, Chuck’s stunt double, tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I knew CPR. I said ‘yes’ and he said, “I think Mike needs you really bad right now.”
“So I went over to him, and he was naked and charred to a crisp, and I got him in the back of the car and gave him CPR for the next 45 minutes going to the hospital. Then he died in my arms, pulling into the driveway, and we lost four more friends in the next day and a half.”
The accident was so horrific for Kurek, it led him to severe depression and suicidal tendencies for the next two and a half years. “I had a gun in my mouth every night, a 357 Smith & Weston pistol; pumped 3.5 to 5 grams of cocaine up my nose every day; smoked joints and cigarettes; had booze like it was going out of style. I was just trying to get weak enough to finally pull the trigger – and then woke up one day and said, ‘Either shoot yourself, get it over with, quit playing the game or change your life’.
“It was that decisive moment where I was right on the line, and I said, “OK, which one are you going to do? Pull the trigger or are you going to turn it around?” Well, obviously, I turned it around.”
He was 29 at the time and there is no doubt that Kurek has turned his life around. “All your dreams come true when you make the decision to make them come true,” he said. He went on to do 38 films as an actor and 500 movies as a key and dolly grip, working behind the cameras as a crew member.
He teaches powerful motivational and empowerment seminars in 13 countries – traveling 300,000 miles a year. He successfully coached the Australian Women’s Olympic Beach Volleyball team of Natalie Cook and Kerri Ann Pottharst who won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He also worked with the Brisbane Broncos, a professional rugby league football team, helping them win the premiership title in the 1999/2000 season.
On November 22, 1998, Kurek broke the world record for the longest fire walk, where he walked on 81m (266ft) on 600-degree coals at the Brisbane RNA Showgrounds.
Into the Fire
He teaches people that we all have unlimited potential and can do whatever we want when we have focus and take action. Kurek is the CEO and founder of Kurek Ashley Success International Pty Ltd in Australia. He is a top fire-walk instructor and takes thousands of people across the coals safely.
Kurek is full of life, passion and energy and inspires everyone he comes into contact with. He turned 46 on April 8, 2007, and life couldn’t be better. He’s up at 4:00am every day, meditates, reads, listens to audio programs, writes and goes to the gym – usually all before his work day starts at 9:00am!
Before bed, about 10:30-11:00pm, he enjoys lying under the stars on his private moon deck.
He has a new book coming out, How Would Love Respond?, and the TV show series, The Transformer, in the wings.
His current product line includes Fire Up Your Life – a six-CD audio program about creating your own compelling future and making lasting change; Power’s in the House DVD – a two-hour live seminar about tapping into your dormant resources and performing at a higher level; and Massive Momentum – seven DVDs covering individual programmes on mindset, goals, health and fitness, wealth, communication and presentation, relationships and sales.
“My most popular programme is the Life Success Club,” Kurek points out, “where I coach people via a new CD they get every month about creating ‘success muscles’ (habits), for only $39.95 a month.”
Branson to Teenagers
The club has a host of other benefits as well, including networking events with high profile people such as Richard Branson, Rachel Hunter and Susie O’Neill. The new XL Life Member will launch the Step Up Foundation into America later this year, as well as continue to grow his own foundation in Cincinnati, funding teenagers with high dropout rate tendencies to complete university.
Believing that the key to achieving success is to ‘create balance in all areas of your life’, Kurek enjoys driving his new BMW and Harley, swimming in the ocean, spending time with friends and family.”Life is a most excellent adventure, and I feel like Indiana Jones,” he says.
“I’m still a big kid – everybody is. You realise the older you get, you don’t really know any more. You have more experiences. Hopefully, you’ve evolved. You don’t know what tomorrow’s going to hold. You don’t have any promises.
“I was happy when I was poor, but I’ve just figured out that I’m a lot happier being wealthy.” Kurek has learned that money doesn’t buy you happiness, but not having money ‘certainly buys you pain’.
“I’ve learned that I enjoy that, and the people in my life and the way I get to live my life. I’m thrilled every day. I wake up every day in an attitude of gratitude. It’s just that I’ve got another day to live. Everything else is gravy. It’s the toughest thing you have to do is wake up. Just ask anybody who didn’t! If you wake up, you’re a total success. The rest is easy.”