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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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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