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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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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