Why Wait?

“Why wait when you can create?”

-Unknown

I was listening to a podcast earlier this week and the guest said something that really stuck with me. Anyone who knows anything about me understands that I have been a web series fanatic for years. The first web series I got hooked on was Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl. From there I watched several others including Close Friends, That Guy, First, Tough Love, Giants, and many more.

The podcast I was listening to recaps episodes of your favorite web series. The co-hosts often ask the guest about the first web series they ever watched. This particular guest stated that Awkward Black Girl was the first show he watched. That resonated with me as I watched every episode of ABG. What the guest went on to say after that hit me like a ton of bricks.

He talked about how that series opened his eyes. He talked about the fact that we are living in a new era and we don’t have to wait for someone else to put us on or give us an opportunity. We can put ourselves on. He said, “Why wait when you can create?”

Imagine where Issa Rae would be right now if she never created Awkward Black Girl? She wouldn’t be starring in movies. She wouldn’t have her own comedy series on HBO. She wouldn’t be a New York Times best selling author. Chances are we would have no idea who she was or how talented she is if she waited for an opportunity.

Think about what you did as an athlete. Did you wait until a college coach called to recruit you before you decided to go in the gym and get shots up? Absolutely not! In anticipation of the opportunity presenting itself you spent years in the gym preparing for your moment. You did that so that when your moment came you would be ready.

You are probably thinking to yourself that’s cool but what does that have to do with my transition into life after sports. I got you!

If you talk to most athletes they will tell you they don’t view themselves as creative. I want to challenge that idea because I believe athletes have a level of creative genius that they are unaware of. They are unaware of it because it comes to them so naturally.

We see it on display all the time. Think about that time you crossed up one defender and euro stepped around two more defenders in the paint as you finished at the rim. Creative genius.

So many athletes struggle as they transition out of sport because we lose our creative outlet! We lose the ability to express ourselves creatively.

Studies show that there are nine types of genius. One of those is bodily-kinesthetic genius. This allows you to coordinate your body with your mind. This is why people fill arenas to watch their favorite players perform. People marvel at what athletes can do with their bodies.

I truly believe that one way to alleviate some of the pain as we transition into life after sport is to find another creative outlet. The great part about living in this era is that we have no limitations. We can take the discipline we had as athletes and apply that to new ventures.

We can explore. We can create opportunities. It doesn’t matter if you take up photography or go to culinary school. What you have to do is find something else that you value to fill the void.

Find a new outlet and immerse yourself in it. What you come up with will blow your mind.

Until next time,

Coach J

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Become Someone's Favorite

Become Someone's Favorite

Allen Iverson was a brand before personal branding was a buzzword. In the past the focus was to build your resume and gain experience. Times have changed. That way of thinking isn’t obsolete but in order to stay ahead of the game and dominate life after sports you need to recognize the trends.

You have the ability to become someone’s favorite something!

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Chasing New Championships

As athletes we have no problem hitting the weight room and waking up for 5am practice. We do these things with ease. Why? Simply because we have a clear vision.

We are chasing a championship. We want to cut down the nets in March. We want to win a bowl game. We want to hang a banner. We want rings. But what happens once there are no more championships on the line?

A few weeks ago I was able to visit my hometown. As I walked down the hallway to my old bedroom I saw tons of trophies, medals, pictures, and jerseys.

I saw a picture of the championship team I played on in college. I saw the “Chairman of the Boards” trophy I received at summer basketball camp for being the best rebounder when I was 9 years old. For years I was chasing more accolades to add to my collection. Once ball was over I thought the chase was over.

Last weekend I attended a volleyball conference championship game. The energy was high. Everyone was communicating. The benches were loud and engaged. The game was so intense that my palms were sweating and I wasn’t even playing!

There’s just something special about a championship game. It’s late in the season. Players are tired and everyone is banged up but one team finds a way to get it done.

Life operates the same way. There are championships on the line. Instead of working towards a conference championship with your teammates you may find yourself working with your business partners to pitch potential investors. Obtaining funding for your startup is definitely equivalent to winning a championship.

The thing to keep in mind is that you can’t win a championship during preseason. You can’t win a championship during game number three of the season. You have to endure to the end. Enduring is painful. It isn’t easy.

If you read the stories of many successful CEOs you hear about the number of times they were rejected by banks but the one thing that they all have in common is that they never gave up. Champions never quit. They don’t quit in the middle of a game and they don’t quit in life.

 The thing we have to keep in mind as we navigate life after sports is that we are trained for whatever comes our way. We are battle tested. It doesn’t matter if the new championship you are chasing is being named one of the top 30 under 30 business professionals in your home state or getting an acceptance letter from the medical school of your dreams. Keep a fresh goal in front of you and purse it wholeheartedly. Chase new championships!

Until next time,

Coach J

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It Ain't Over

A few weeks ago Derrick Rose scored a career high 50 points and I had to sit on it. I wanted to write about it but I had to let it sink in. Derrick Rose was emotional and it made me emotional. I could be wrong but I think Derrick got emotional as he was thinking to himself, “finally my hard work paid off.”

 

Did you see that look on his face? That’s what we’re all chasing. That feeling of “finally”.

 

Often times our journey within sports mirrors our journey in life after sports. There are ups and downs. Setbacks and triumphs. However within our sport we persevere. Once our playing days are over some of us shrink back. We live beneath our potential.

 

The issue is that we don’t stick with things long enough. We give up if we don’t see the results what we want immediately. We hop around from one thing to the next. I encourage exploration. But we have to keep in mind that as we explore we should be looking for that one thing. The one thing that only you can do. The one thing that no one else on the planet can do like you.

 

Once we find it we have to stick with it. If something in your gut tells you that this is the thing you were born to do you have to hold on to it in spite of the obstacles you face and the self-doubt that may set in.

 

I’m sure there was a time when Derrick Rose questioned if he would ever bounce back. I can remember watching him in awe at Memphis. I remember him being the first overall draft pick. I remember him winning MVP of the NBA. I also remember him sustaining multiple injuries and moving from team to team. In spite of all of the setbacks Derrick Rose kept going.

 

That’s exactly what we have to do as former athletes. We have to tell ourselves that no matter what it looks like IT AIN’T OVER! Think about how long you had to work at your sport before you made it to the collegiate or professional ranks. Many of us spent well over a decade perfecting our craft.

 

We have to be willing to put that same amount of time in once we figure out what’s next. Your best days are not behind you. You are so much more than just an athlete.

 

“I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” 

-Steve Jobs

 

That quote by Steve Jobs doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurs. It applies to anyone who wants to be great at anything. Will you stick with it or throw in the towel and settle for being average? The choice is up to you.

 

You dominated on the court or on the field. Now go dominate in life!

 

Keep Pushing

 

Coach J

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Leave Your Cape On

What are you doing when no one is watching?

 What are you doing when there’s no crowd? When the crowd fills the arena and the lights are on it’s too late to prepare. You can’t run to the bench and read up on your scouting report during a timeout.

 Sports teach us that preparation must take place before the moment we are anticipating arrives. If you show up to a game unprepared your competition will embarrass you.

 I truly believe that athletes have a set of super powers. For some reason many of us volunteer to take our superhero cape off just because ball is over. We fail to realize that our skills will serve us in any arena.

 Our attention to detail and preparation are what allowed us to earn a college scholarship. In order to make it to this level you had to have more than just talent. You had to have some discipline behind it.

The same rules apply as we move forward. You could be a gifted teacher but you still have to prepare ahead of time when creating your lesson plans.

 As athletes we thrive under pressure. We love to compete. We are on the hunt for any and every opportunity to show what we’ve been working on. We never want to be viewed as average.

 The work we put in behind closed doors is what allows us to thrive. Take a minute to think about how empty and quiet the gym was during practice. Now compare that to game day when students and fans fill the stands, the band is there, cheerleaders are on the baseline, and photographers are trying to capture amazing action shots. There is almost no comparison. One environment is conducive to preparing. The other will simply expose those who thought they could just show up and dominate.

Separating yourself from your peers in your career field will take the same amount of effort. You have to prepare ahead of time for that big presentation when no one is watching. You have to shut off all distractions and work on that business plan before you pitch to potential investors. You have to know the laws pertaining to your client’s case before you step into the courtroom.

As athletes we have a head start. We have super powers. We understand that hours and hours of practice yield the type of results that we are looking for. So don’t take your cape off now. Leave it on. Prepare in the dark for the moment when the lights will shine.

 You lived through moments when the arena was full and you had the ball in your hands. The time will come when the boardroom is silent and all eyes are on you. Will your preparation time make you look average or super human? The choice is up to you.

 Take that same grind and apply it to a new arena.

 Go put that work in,

 Coach J

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Feel The Rush

At some point we have to stop asking athletes what they are passionate about. If we are trying to help them transition into life after sports that question is ineffective. That question will not yield the type of answer they are in search of. That question will lead them right back to their sport.

I want to pose a different question. I want you to ask yourself where you can add value. In life we are all on a search for significance. Athletes struggle to transition because they have added value at a high level on the court or on the field for a long time.

Athletes struggle to see themselves adding value outside of sports. It’s so much bigger than just finding a job after college. A job might put a couple of dollars in your pocket and pay your bills but there is so much more to life.

Athletes are low-key adrenaline junkies. If we aren’t passionate about what we’re doing we will be extremely unhappy. We will always be in search of that “rush” we got from our sport.

As adults we will spend the majority of our waking hours working. So why waste precious time doing work that doesn’t mean anything to you? Begin to ask yourself what problem you can solve. 

 As a recruit you were brought in to fit a need of a particular team. Maybe the team you ended up signing with already had a post player who was great at scoring around the basket but Coach really needed an athletic forward who could rebound well and get the team extra possessions. That is why they recruited you. You fit a need. You had the potential to add value to the team.

Business works the same way. You have to pay attention to the gaps. Look within your industry and see where you can make an improvement. Where can you provide a service? What is missing from the marketplace that you can create?

This takes things a step beyond simply looking for a job within the field you majored in. Again, athletes are passionate people. We don’t settle for the bare minimum. We didn’t just want to make the team. We wanted to start. We didn’t just want to make the conference tournament. We wanted to win it. We don’t just want to land a job. We want to add value and make a positive impact.

There is no real world equivalent to high fives from your teammates and your coaches presenting you with the game ball. However as athletes we are always in search of that. Not because we desire praise but simply because that is how we are wired.

Something in us requires us to go above and beyond what is necessary. We want to add value to every organization we have the pleasure of serving.

Maybe you are a gifted interior designer and you can add value to new home owners.

Maybe you are a gifted speaker and you can add value by providing inspiration to those in need.

Maybe you are a gifted cook and you can add value by providing meal prep services to working moms.

There are so many possibilities but you have to start exploring. There are people waiting on you. How long are you going to keep them waiting?

Your life is not over just because you are out of eligibility. Start to explore where you can add value and soon you will once again feel the rush you desperately desire.

Until next time,

Coach J

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Athletes As Investors

If you ever sit down with a financial advisor the first piece of advice they will give you is that you need to diversify. They will warn you that putting all of your eggs in one basket is extremely risky. It is risky because if something goes wrong you will lose everything. I seriously doubt that a seasoned advisor would tell you to bet your life savings on one thing. Imagine putting all of your retirement savings into Toys R Us stock. That would not yield the benefits you want.

It would be much wiser to spread your money out over growth stock mutual funds, precious metals, real estate, or a ton of other options. I believe athletes are terrible investors! We literally put all of our eggs in one basket. It is foolish to risk everything on the success of one venture especially when you know that you can’t play sports forever. Even your favorite players have to retire at some point. It’s going to end so you have to prepare for when that day comes.

The sooner you start to diversify the better. You are more than just an athlete. Start the process of spreading your eggs around. At some point you have to train more that just your body. You need to obtain other skills. Imagine if you went to the weight room week after week and the only muscles you focused on were your biceps. Imagine how crazy that would be. Instead of working your shoulders, quadriceps, hamstrings, triceps, core, and a ton of other areas you only worked your biceps. A great strength and conditioning coach is going to give you a full body workout. A great college experience prepares you for more than just game day.

Your footwork is insane and the speed ladder drill you uploaded to YouTube went viral. Congrats! Someone recorded you making 42 three pointers in a row and SportsCenter featured the video on their Instagram. That’s awesome! My question is what’s next?

Getting your degree isn’t enough. Simply having your degree does not make you completive. You need a specialized set of skills. You need some specialized knowledge. You need to diversify. You need to make a shift from focusing on nothing but the physical to developing the mental.

Being a college athlete is pretty sweet. Your athletic scholarship covers everything from your housing to your meal plan. You literally don’t have to worry about a thing. Part of transitioning into life after sports is identifying what you can bring to the marketplace that will allow you to provide for yourself. At some point you will have to move out of the dorm. At some point your card won’t work when you try to swipe it in the café. This is where diversifying comes into play.

The better you are the more you will be rewarded. It’s similar to sports. They more talented you were the more options you have. The sweet thing about life after sports is that the playing field is even. In sports being taller or quicker could give you an advantage. In the job market you decide what you bring to the table and companies will reward you and compensate you based on the value that you add. Your value has nothing to do with your natural abilities. Your value has to do with the skills you provide and your level of performance.

You can’t just focus on your sport and expect to dominate life after sports. It doesn’t work that way. You have to prepare on your own. You need to build relationships, find mentors, network, intern, and find unique things to add to your resume. You have to diversify. You have to broaden your horizons. Yes your have a crazy schedule and limited downtime but your coach is not going to foot the bill for your expenses for the rest of your life. After four years it’s over. The time will come when you will have to figure it out. Diversify now and thank yourself later.

Until next time,

Coach J

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Draft Night

60 basketball players had their dreams come true on draft night. There are over 4,500 NCAA division 1 men’s basketball players. Only SIXTY got drafted. WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT PREPARING YOUNG PEOPLE FOR LIFE AFTER SPORTS?!? Athletes suffer from depression at 4x the rate of the rest of the population. I believe it’s because nobody ever stopped to tell us what to do once ball is over.

I can’t lie to you. As I watched the NBA draft earlier this week I experienced a wide range of emotions. I enjoyed watched young superstars celebrate as the commissioner called their name. Mothers shed tears. College coaches embraced their players with hugs. It was in that moment that life long dreams came true. I can’t even imagine how those young men felt. All of the years of hard work finally paid off.

I can’t help it but from time to time my inner accountant comes out. I love to crunch numbers. During one of the commercial breaks I decided to crunch the numbers. There are 347 Division 1 basketball programs. Each school is awarded approximately 13 scholarships. Sixty players got drafted. Let’s break this down.

347 schools (13 players per team)= 4,500 Division 1 men’s basketball players

Again SIXTY got drafted. Sixty. 60!

If 60 out of 4500 players got drafted that means that players who participated in last years season had a 0.013 chance of getting drafted.

60/4500= 0.013%

From the time we are kids we are told that if we work hard and stay committed we will have a chance to make it. For 98% of us that never happens. I was happy for the players who made it but I couldn’t help but think about the other 98%. The rest of us are lost. We spend so much time trying to get better strong and faster. We need to spend more time getting wiser and more skilled. We need to refine the skills that will equip us to build the lives we dream of and provide for our families. Putting a ball through a basket is not the only way to make a living. There are other options.

Maybe you knew you’d never play pro but let’s face it. The end of your playing days is never easy. I caught myself dribbling an imaginary basketball yesterday. I haven’t played organized basketball in 7 years but basketball is still engrained in me.

I’m not suggesting that you have to abandon your sport in order to move on but at some point you have to figure out how to translate those skills. You have to get a new set of goals. You have to get a new dream and chase it down. It’s in you. Go get it.

Until next time,

Coach J

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The 98% Part 2

“You are more than who you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life. REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.”

-Mufasa

Hello I’m Rafiki. You must be Simba. Somewhere along the path of life you got lost because things didn’t go the way you planned. Just like Simba you are living beneath your potential. 

At one point you were singing about how you couldn’t wait to be king. But then when you didn’t get the pro contract or when you got cut by the Olympic team you stopped singing. Breaking news! You can still be king. You just have to find a new jungle! 

I have one goal. One aim. One mission. One objective. My job is really simple. I’m here to remind you who you are. You literally have these super powers sitting in your back pocket. Up until now you thought they were only good for one thing. You thought these skills were only good for hooping or catching touchdown passes or hitting home runs. 

You need to realize that life is a sport. Life is a game. It’s not about the hand you were dealt. It’s about how you play it. As a basketball player I constantly worked on my footwork. There’s this thing in basketball called a travel. If you take too many steps without dribbling the basketball it’s a turnover. You give up the ball and your opponent gets a chance to score. When you turn the ball over you take an opportunity from your team to score a basket. Life is the same way. You just have to learn the rules to the new game you are playing. Turnovers are costly in sports but they are also costly in life. 

Last time I checked there was only ONE way to win a basketball game. You have to outscore your opponent. Point blank period. You can’t sit back and hope your opponent misses. That’s passive. You have to take initiative. You have to score to win. The rules of life are the same way. You have to be aggressive. You have to score. You can’t sit back and hope the person next to you messes up so that you can get an opportunity. 

You are a member of an elite group. You kept an insane routine when you were playing college sports. You were up at 5am grinding. Your classmates who didn’t play sports were struggling to make it to their first class at noon. Understand that you have an advantage. You have something in you that you can’t buy. 

The fact is that less than 2% of us will play professional sports and that’s perfectly fine. The end of your playing days does not have to be the last time you feel that rush. You have something in you that will allow you to dominate any industry. You just have to see it right. You have to take what you learned in sports and apply it to life. 

Most athletes mess up because they only see themselves as athletes. So what do we do after graduation? We settle for the first job that comes along. That’s where most of us get stuck. That’s why so many athletes are unhappy and they fall into depression. They go from doing something they are super passionate about to doing something just so they can get a direct deposit notification every two weeks. After graduation we are in the middle of an identity crisis. We have no idea who we are without sports. 

All I want you to understand is that you are still special. People praised you because of your athletic ability but once you got done playing they forgot about you because you started to seem normal. I’m here to be your cheerleader. You have these super powers. You are not normal. You can do anything you set your mind to. Refuse to settle. Get a new dream and chase it down. This is just the beginning. Remember who you are! 

Go dominate,

Coach J

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The 98%

"Women lie. Men lie. Numbers don’t lie. "

-Yo Gotti

Welcome to the majority. First time for everything. On campus athletes represent a small fraction of the student body. Only a small fraction of high school athletes gain athletic scholarships. Up until this point you have been a member of an elite class. You’re still a member of an elite class. The only difference is that now you are a part of the 98%. 

We have all seen those NCAA commercials that state only 2% of collegiate athletes go pro. It isn’t just some cute commercial. That commercial should freeze you in your tracks and cause you to revaluate some things. That means that the other 98% need to prepare for life after sports with a sense of urgency. As athletes we get caught up. We only visualize ourselves holding up the trophy or cutting down the net. We focus all of our energy on one thing. A great philosopher by the name of Yo Gotti once said that numbers don’t lie. Well if that’s true that means that athletes who fall within that 98% need to start to focus on other things. 

It’s ok to get a new set of dreams outside of the world of sports. Sometimes it’s that simple. Get a new dream. Get a new picture for your life. Having a vision is more than half the battle. When you know where you want to go you can find a path that will get you there. Maybe you could be named to Forbes 40 under 40 list. Maybe your startup could be named one of the fastest growing businesses by Inc. Maybe your first book will be a NY Times Best Seller. Maybe your life’s work will win you a Nobel Peace Prize. You’ll never know if you don’t try. You’ll never know if you get stuck. 

A lot of players overestimate the probability or chance of them playing professional sports. Look at the WNBA. There are 12 teams. Each team has approximately 12 players. That’s 144 spots. You literally have to be one of the top 150 women’s basketball players in the WORLD to secure a spot on one of those rosters.

 Even if your goal was never to play professionally, you still spent well over a decade dedicated to the sport you love. When your playing days end you are going to feel a sense of loss. There will be days when you struggle to figure out your new identity. However, it’s never too early to start to figure out how you are going to leverage your skills and chase your new dreams.

Welcome to the majority. Now what are you going to do to separate yourself from the crowd?

Until next time,

Coach J

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Built For This

When we walk away from sports we walk away with an incredible skill set. We often hear about how those skills will cause us to be an asset in the workplace. That is definitely true! However, the skills that we gain will benefit us outside of our career. As an athlete you gain what you need to weather the storms life will throw your way.

Seasons have their ups and downs. There are big victories followed by disappointing losses. There are injuries and setbacks followed by triumph. There are disagreements. You may even shed a tear or blood.

During the first preseason workout there was no way that you could anticipate everything that would unfold throughout the season. Life is the same way. You won’t always know what is around the corner but you find a way get through it.

A lot of times life will require that you “play hurt”. There’s a good chance that at some point you had to play through something. Maybe you had to play with a jammed thumb. Maybe you had to perform on an ankle that wasn’t quite at one hundred percent. Life is going to require you to do the same thing. No worries. You have been preparing for this your entire life. When others consider throwing in the towel you keep pushing because perseverance is in your DNA.

Life will require you to bounce back from failure. It just so happens that you’ve been doing that for years. You have missed free throws. You have missed field goals. You’ve struck out more than you’d like to remember. In spite of failing, you get up wipe yourself off and try again. You low-key prefer adversity. Your coaches put you in tough situations time and time again. They did it so much that you are totally comfortable with your back being against the wall.

You’re wired differently. Things that cause other people to freeze up and quit don’t phase you. Part of it has to do with the fact that athletes are super confident. The other part has to do with the fact that you are battle tested. You’ve been there, done that, and you aren’t afraid to face challenges head on. Use that same tenacity, that same go getter mentality to annihilate any challenge life throws your way.

You got this,

Coach J

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7 Keys to Identifying Your “It”

“Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are ultimately to be at peace with themselves. What humans can be, they must be.” ―Abraham Maslow

Life is funny. Life has a way of nudging you towards what you were born to do. Life has a way of leaving clues. No one can give you the exact recipe for your life. Each one of us needs a different set of ingredients. You have to figure it out along the way. Some of us are too busy to stop and map it out. Others are too afraid to follow the path that life is taking them down. Fear of the unknown keeps them trapped. They don’t have enough faith to step out and take a risk.

In order to find happiness and experience fulfillment you have to reach your maximum capacity. The last goal you score or the last home run you hit does not have to be the last time you feel that rush.

If you are a 5 star recruit coming out of high school and you drop every pass in your first collegiate football game you are going to be extremely disappointed in yourself. If you play basketball and you go 0 for 10 from the free throw line you are not going to be happy with your performance. You won’t be satisfied because you know you are capable of putting on a better performance. You know you are capable of more. Life after sports is the same way. If you are dissatisfied it could be due to the fact that deep down inside you know that you are capable of doing more.

When you operate outside of your purpose there is this constant nagging. You always have a sense there has to be more to life. You may not know exactly what it is but you have a desire to figure it out. I believe there are seven things that will let you know that you are on the right path to doing what you were born to do.

1: You’re scared

You know you’re getting close to discovering the thing you were put on this Earth to do when the thought of actually doing it scares you out of your mind. You have an idea or an approach that has never been seen before. You wonder if you’re totally off or if you’re really on to something. Fear can either paralyze you or you can use it as an indicator that you are on the right path. Sure you’re talented but the thought of going after something of this magnitude causes you to want to run and hide. Many people never make it past this first step because they allow that fear to consume them instead of allowing it to push them forward.

2: No one has to pay you to do it

What are you already doing? How do you spend your free time? What problems do you find yourself seeking solutions for? These are the questions you should be asking yourself. It may be something small that you don’t think much of but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

When you find work that no one has to pay you to do you are one step closer to finding your “it”.

3: Sleep isn’t as attractive to you

By no means am I suggesting that you get less sleep than doctors recommend. However when you find your “it”, it jolts you out of bed in the morning. You get to a point where waking up and turning your dream into a reality is more attractive than lying in bed unconscious. When you find your “it”, you replace your late night Netflix watching with late night research. Your “it” consumes you. You think about it on your lunch break. You think about it while you brush your teeth. You think about it at the stop light. You try to find time in your day to work on it and turn it into a reality. You go to bed two hours later and wake up 30 minutes earlier. It becomes your priority. It becomes your focal point. You are not stressed about it; you just can’t get it off your mind.

4: Your appetite changes

When you discover your “it” your appetite starts to change. You will be forced to change your circle. You will find yourself cutting off the friends who constantly talk about people and never discuss their ideas. Binge watching your favorite show won’t be as attractive because you could be using those hours to work on your dream. Hanging out all of the time starts to feel like a waste of time. You spend more time reading and less time on social media. Your habits change and they allow you to spend more time working on your dream.

5: Everything starts to make sense

Often times when we receive a pop quiz from life we aren’t very excited. We all have our share of ups and downs. We receive great news followed by something not so great. At first we ask ourselves why it had to happen to us.

Once you start to discover your “it”, everything starts to make sense. You start to connect the dots. At the end of the day you have to be “the right person” to carry out your “it”. All of your life experiences mold and shape you into who you are supposed to be. Your “it” isn’t separate from you.

6: Regret turns into appreciation

Discovering your “it” is a process. Once everything starts to make sense you go through this shift. You realize that if you hadn’t gone through ABC or lost XYZ, there is no way you’d be where you are now. You understand why you had to go that school or connect with that person. You start to put the puzzle together. You grow to understand that life is a process. In each season you learn something that you can take with you and apply as you move forward. Things that you once regretted you start to appreciate because you can see the role that lesson played in the outcome of your life.

7: You’re willing to compromise your comfort and take a risk

We all know that nothing worth mentioning happens inside of your comfort zone. Even after you find something that no one has to pay you to do and you are on the hunt to find time to work on it, you still have to take a risk. Nothing worth having is easily attained. A lot of people talk the talk. I want you to be the one who walks it out.

If it’s something that you aren’t really passionate about I can totally see being unwilling to take a risk. However, you’ll know that you’ve found your “it” once you are willing to look crazy as you pursue it. Chances are that most people won’t understand at first. That’s perfectly fine because it isn’t their “it”.

Keep moving. Keep trying. Keep going after it until you chase it down and catch it. Your life will never be the same after you do.

Go find it,

Coach J

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How to Choose the Right Job Offer

“Never take the job that someone offers. Make sure that you take the job that you want.”

-Dr. Dennis Kimbro

As you begin to navigate life after sports you will begin to make decisions that could potentially change the trajectory of your life. As you make these decisions I want to encourage you to THINK LONG TERM. When you are weighing different job offers and different career paths take the time to consider which choice will get you closer to where you want to be in the long run. There is no right or wrong answer. All I ask is that you begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself what you want to be known for. You need to be intentional in order to set yourself up for success.

Making a move to set you up in the long run could look like taking an unpaid internship one summer. You could also have the option to work a job in retail over the summer that could put a few dollars in your pocket but provide no relevant experience. The internship could give you the experience that you desperately need to add to your resume. The internship could also help you to establish meaningful relationships. As you continue to navigate life you will grow to understand the value of relationships. All I’m saying is that there is so much more to consider than money.

Let’s say you just graduated and you have two job offers …

Job Offer A

-Starting salary $45,000

-Offers an incredible mentorship opportunity

-Tons of opportunity to move up and advance within the company quickly

-3 weeks paid vacation

-Full benefits

-10 minute commute

-Opportunity to earn performance based bonuses

-Graduate school expenses covered

Job Offer B

-Starting salary of $52,500

-$1,500 signing bonus

-5 weeks paid vacation

-Medical insurance but no dental coverage included

-No real opportunities to advance

-40 minute commute

If you had to choose one offer which one would you go with? Again there is no right or wrong answer. Maybe work life balance is important to you and having 5 weeks of paid vacation seals the deal for you. Maybe having the ability to advance quickly is important to you. You can choose to take more money up front and take the risk of getting stuck in your current position. Sometimes making unpopular decisions really pays off in the long run

All I want you to do is consider your decisions from every possible angle. Consider more than just the monetary value an opportunity presents. Figure out what kind of psychic income you can get from the job.

Psychic income- The personal or subjective benefits, rewards, or satisfactions derived from a job or undertaking as separate from its objective or financial ones.

As an athlete finding a career path that provides the right amount of physic income will make your transition a lot smoother. You have grown accustomed to getting positive feedback and being praised for your accomplishments. Your parents probably have a room in the house dedicated to displaying all of your trophies.  Hearing your boss say good job and being named employee of the month can go a long way.

Ask if the work you are considering will allow you to help other people. Millennials are unlike any other generation. We crave work that has meaning. Social entrepreneurship is the new business model. Just look at companies like Toms and their one for one approach. Many other companies have followed their lead.

Take the time to consider more than just the amount of the direct deposit that will hit your checking account at midnight every other Friday.

Again the right decision for you might not render huge benefits at first glance. Years of participating in sports has proven this theory to you. Let’s say the head coach of a basketball team really wants to pick up the point guard full court for the entire game. Let’s say the assistant coach prefers to go with a full court zone press. The full court press could result in turnovers and easy baskets right away. The full court press could yield early benefits. Picking up the point guard full court may not lead to many turnovers and easy buckets. However, late in the game when the point guard has to make crucial decisions they will be worn down mentally and physically. They are the primary ball handler and will likely go to the free throw line in late game situations. After 30+ minutes of being harassed for 94 feet, their legs will be the first thing to go. This could lead to them missing critical free throws in crunch time. By picking up the point guard full court a team could reap the benefits later in the game.

So I pose the question. What will you choose? Will you decide to go with a full court press or will you simply pick up the point guard full court?  Look at your career through the same lenses. Make the right choice for you.

 

Until next time,

 

Coach J

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Tap Into Your Creative Genius

“What if my mind was the problem? What if to be alive is to be inspired? Develop an inspiration mindset. You are infinitely creative. Constant inspiration is supposed to be your norm.”

-Toure Roberts

Earlier this week Childish Gambino released a video called This Is America. It is easily one of the greatest music videos I have ever seen in my life. The imagery is powerful and the message is crystal clear. The video is oozing with Gambino’s creative genius. Social media has gone into a complete frenzy over this video. Everyone is talking about it.

As we spend more time together you will come to understand that I have one goal. My goal is to help athletes see life differently. I want to challenge you and cause you to see yourself as more than just an athlete. While we applaud the work of Childish Gambino we should pause and take notes. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t admire his work. I’m just encouraging you to put out your own.

I would have sucked as a basketball player if all I did was watch my favorite players and I never tried to emulate them. I tried to model certain aspects of my game after Kevin Garnett. I could never be Kevin Garnett but there was nothing wrong with taking a move or two of his and putting my own unique twist on it. This principle does not just apply to sports.

There are so many forms of creative genius on display in our society. Life is not a spectator sport. At some point you have to make the shift from just being entertained to studying the greats and trying to figure out how you can incorporate what they do into your own life.

Look at the after time out plays that Brad Stevens draws up for the Boston Celtics. Genius. Look at the way Elon Musk designed the Tesla. Genius. Look at the way your favorite clothing brand produces clothes. Genius. Look at the way your favorite artist enhances every song they are featured on. Genius. Look at the creativity your favorite teacher used to design lesson plans. Genius.

Music is not the only form of creative expression. Find your unique lane.

I was cocky on the court. If you asked me no one could shoot like me. I took pride in my form. I wanted the rotation every one of my shots to be flawless. I rarely passed up a shot. I felt as if mastering the mid-range game was my way of leaving my mark on the game. The thing I never realized is that the court was not the only place where I could leave my distinct mark. The court was not the only place where I could be an individual and stand out.

Maybe you are an incredible switch hitter. Maybe you are a pitcher known for your amazing curve ball. Maybe you play football and your spin move is insane. Maybe you are a point guard with silky smooth handles. You could even be a goalie with more shut outs than you can count.

It doesn’t matter what sport you play or what you are known for. All you need to understand is that you can leave your mark in a new field. You can take that SAME GRIND and apply it to a NEW ARENA!

Your creative genius is within you. You just have to find your unique lane and tap into it. Your creative genius is like a faucet. The water it right there and ready to go, but nothing happens until you turn it on.

I’m sure that there’s a note in your phone or some idea you scribbled on a piece of paper in a notebook that no one knows about. Act on that idea. See where it takes you. Tap into your own creative genius. There’s a piece of work that you are supposed to leave in this earth.

If the thing you want doesn’t exist, it’s probably because you need to create it. Can’t find anything worth watching on Netflix? Write your own series. Can’t find a shirt you like at the mall? Design your own. Can’t find a book on the topic you are looking for? Write it yourself. Not enough organizations to serve the underprivileged youth in your old neighborhood? Start one. Can’t find a piece of artwork that speaks to you? Paint your own. Don’t like the culture at your job? Start your own company. Hate all of the chocolate chip cookie recipes online? Come up with your own.

You are the solution to someone’s problem. You were born to create. I know that’s scary because up until now you thought you were only born to hoop. You just have to find the thing that you were meant to create. You are the only one with your distinct fingerprint. Leave your mark on the world.

As a former athlete you are extremely disciplined. That discipline gives you an advantage. While others sit around and make excuses you find a way to execute. Take the time to explore an aspect of yourself that you couldn’t see because you were so wrapped up in sports. What you discover will blow your mind.

Have fun,

 

Coach J

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Tap Into Your Inner Mamba

“If basketball is the best thing I’ve done in life, then I’ve failed.”

-Kobe Bryant

As I watched this year’s Women’s Final Four games I was blown away. Basketball fans were in for a treat as we were able to witness Arike Ogunbowale knock down not just one, but TWO game winners. The first game winner allowed her team to knock off UConn, which is often viewed as an impossible feat. The second game winner helped her team to secure its first National Championship in 17 years.

I love to watch the games during March Madness and I often find myself getting caught up in the hype. However, I believe it’s crucial that we pause and reflect. At some point you have to get away from just watching the game for entertainment. At some point you have to ask yourself, “What separates great players from phenomenal players?” I find that the answer to that question has little to do with their physical skill set but everything to do with their mentality.

One way to understand the mindset of elite athletes is to listen to their post-game interviews. In Arike’s post-game interview she touched on something that you might have missed. “I went into Mamba Mentality, that’s what I tried to channel”; said Arike Ogunbowale. Any die hard Kobe Bryant fans or basketball fans in general have heard Kobe refer to Mamba Mentality as the continual quest to be great.

Kobe Bryant is arguably one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game. His countless accolades include 5 championships, 1 league MVP, 2 scoring titles, and being named All NBA First Team 11 times. He even had both of his jersey numbers retired by the Los Angeles Lakers. Many basketball players would cut off their right arm if it meant they could win just one NBA championship. Kobe’s career is one of the most decorated of this era. If he never accomplished anything else many would still consider him to be extremely successful. Kobe does not see things that way. He recently stated, “If basketball is the best thing I’ve done in life, then I’ve failed.”

Kobe understands one simple truth that many players fail to grasp. Kobe understands that he is more than just an athlete! That may sound insignificant but it’s huge. Kobe understands that he has other gifts and talents. He understands that although basketball was his first love and he poured his heart and soul into being the best at his craft… that is not the only field he can excel in! He understands that he has multiple gifts and talents that he has yet to tap into and explore. Through the exploration of these talents Kobe was able to do something many former athletes never even dream of. Kobe won an Oscar!

Let that marinate for a minute. Your favorite basketball player won an Oscar for the best animated short film. In my opinion that is the epitome of the Mamba Mentality.

As athletes we want to win. We want to be great. Although our playing careers won’t last forever we need to take that same mentality as we move forward and explore new ventures. It will be scary and you will have your doubts but that’s ok. I seriously doubt that you were an incredible football, soccer, or basketball player the first time you picked up a ball. Yes you had talent, but it was raw. It had to be developed over time. You had to practice over and over again.

The same applies to your career. It doesn’t matter if you want to start a business, work in the nonprofit sector, or become an architect. The important thing is that you have to start now. Envision what you want your life to look like. Take inventory of you gifts. Hang around some classmates who don’t play sports. Explore internship opportunities. Sign up for a mock interview. Draft a five year plan. Do something that forces you to see yourself as more than just an athlete. You don’t want to show up to graduation or the last game of your pro career without a step by step game plan in place.

 Many athletes come up short because they have tunnel vision. They go throughout college so focused on their sport that they don’t properly prepare for life after sports. They channel their inner mamba on the court but fail to realize that that same mamba mentality can cause them to soar for years after they hang it up. Sports prepare us in so many ways for so many things that we rarely take the time to pause and reflect on.

 

Until next time,

 

Coach J

 

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The Couch

The longest months of my life were spent on my grandfather’s couch. Fortunately I had a bed to sleep in at night but the majority of my waking hours were spent on a couch in the basement. I remember plugging the power cord for my laptop into an extension cord and spending countless hours putting in job applications. Day after day I went through the same routine. I searched the internet for job openings in my field. I answered the same questions over and over again. I anxiously waited on my phone to ring. The process seemed like it was never ending. Up until this point in my life success had come easily to me. I took an enormous amount of pride in the fact that I was a former Division 1 athlete. I had just wrapped up an amazing internship with an NBA franchise. I recently obtained a master’s degree. I felt as if nothing was impossible. I was positive that employers would come begging me to accept a job offer just as the coaches who were relentless while recruiting me. What I saw unfolding in my mind verses what actually happened were polar opposites. For the first time in my life I was in a situation where no one cared about my athletic ability. The one thing that carried me this far seemed as if it was no longer relevant. 

 

The frustration I felt made me reconsider everything. I wondered what I could have done differently. The country was in a recession and jobs were somewhat hard to come by, but I was noticing an interesting trend. My college classmates who didn’t play sports were much better prepared for life after college. Many of them spent three or more summers interning with different companies. Some had even accepted full time positions before entering graduate school. My reality was that I had a resume full of nothing! Being the team captain and making the all conference team didn’t help me land a job offer.  No matter how I tried to dress it up I couldn’t hide the fact that I spent my summers working retail jobs so that I could have flexibility in my schedule to workout. My experience in stocking shelves was not very beneficial as I searched for an entry level accounting position. I had spent a lot of time in the gym perfecting my craft when I should have dedicated some time to preparing for the real world. 

 

Yes I had skills. I was a hard worker. I worked well with a team. I understood how to communicate effectively. The truth is that I did not position myself to be successful once basketball was over. If you are still playing you need to start considering what you can do to avoid spending an extended period of time on someone’s couch. If your playing days are over and you are reading this from someone’s couch the good news is that it will get better. You are more than an athlete! You have something amazing to offer the world. You just have to keep moving forward. Even if that means you have to start by crawling, do it. Stay encouraged. If I can get off the couch you can too. In some cases, your couch might not be a physical couch. A couch can represent something that was once comfortable but has grown to become a crutch that prohibits you from becoming the best version of yourself. Too much time spent on the couch isn’t good for anyone. At some point you have to get up and do something productive. Maybe you are reading this in the break room on a job that you settled for and you have grown to strongly dislike. Maybe you are wondering if you will ever feel the fulfillment you felt as a student athlete. Again, I would advise that you take some time to consider what you can do to change your situation. The ball is in your court. What will you do with it?

 

Until next time,

 

Coach J 

 

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