At some point in my career, like any athlete aiming for something more significant, I questioned if I would be on the big stage one day or not… if I would be good enough to live comfortably once my career was over, or if I needed to go back and reinvent myself to find a new passion that would fulfill me, ideally until the end of my days. This decision took place a few years before high school graduation, and had many variables involved — to name a few: health, financial risks, the risk of failure and mental disappointment.
As hard as it was, I had to admit to myself that I probably wasn’t good enough to compete with the top 100 tennis players in the world, even after countless hours of practice, sweat, successes, failures, injuries, and strong comebacks. The air is extremely thin at the top, just like in any sport. You have to consistently stay within the top 100 for years to accumulate enough prize and sponsorship money to live well once you retire. And by consistently, I mean a decade!
However, I always had high ambitions for myself and the things I wanted to accomplish in life. After receiving a scholarship to be an international student-athlete while studying business, I started realizing that I didn’t want to work for someone else. “Life is too short to be working for someone else’s dream” became my mindset, resulting in the birth of my entrepreneurial journey. As I told myself at the time, “If not now, when?”
I graduated with honors, earned a Master’s degree one year after and by the age of 23 I started my own business and made probably the best decision of my life — let me explain why:
The basis of all actions is mindset-related. Therefore every individual is in charge of their daily outcomes. Whether your mindset will have a positive or negative impact on your life is entirely up to you. That’s why your consciousness vastly influences your reality. As I became more and more mindful of this, I figured that I wanted to live a modern life of freedom, traveling, enjoying the things that interested me most, spending time with the people I wanted to and getting to know different cultures by helping solve other people’s problems with my expertise. On the other side of the fence there was the choice of being stuck in a cubicle, or a place with no AC, having four weeks of vacation per year, working overtime hours that should be billable, but are actually never paid out or incentivized in the form of additional vacation days (unless you work for an exceptional employer that is more employee than ROI oriented) and the list goes on. I am not debating that employment has its advantages — job security, pension plan, health insurance depending on which country you live in –but that’s about it! Long story short, there was not even a choice for me to make here.
So why has my athletic career helped me become a successful entrepreneur? Because over the years I unknowingly trained and gained the arsenal necessary to win overtime periodically in business, and in entrepreneurship.
As an entrepreneur, you have many obstacles to face right off the bat. Every entrepreneur knows how volatile this journey is. The volatility of the crypto market is a joke in comparison! However, being a great athlete during my adolescence has helped me shape my character and personality to the point that many of those obstacles were solved through the education I received from the sports. For example, I never lacked the motivation to continue even when I had no momentum, I was disciplined and didn’t give up when things became tough, and I have excellent time management skills that allow me to live a healthy lifestyle. In retrospective, I am very grateful for being an athlete who competed on an international level, since it played a massive role in giving me the skills, tools, and mindset necessary to stay on track, with the least amount of friction or disturbance along the way.
Current circumstances are merely a snapshot on the entrepreneurial quest. Not losing the big picture, enjoying the process, being patient and a love for the game are the reasons why I have been able to win up until now, and will be critical factors in the future. Building a legacy and a life of freedom and fulfillment, while making a positive impact, are the reasons why I became an entrepreneur in the first place. It took me a year of self-reflection and awareness to understand that the skills I was taught for years have helped me in the process and ultimately prepared me for the challenges to come.
Looking back, an interesting saying that I stumbled upon early on defined my journey: “97% of the people who quit too soon are employed by the 3% who never gave up”. Statistically that’s unlikely to be backed up, yet it’s a compelling message. Oh boy, did I not want to be part of that 97%!
Lastly, a trait that I have found to be of massive influence, directly correlated with sports, is that keeping the faith is the most critical factor on the entrepreneurial journey. After all, there is no better teacher than being an athlete to gain the belief, trust and eventually faith in yourself to succeed. I can say with confidence that athletic activities are the best teacher in our educational system. Period.