We never know what experiences in life are preparing us for our future. This is the big picture – being ready and knowing there is more to come down the road. I stumbled upon track accidentally when my plan for professional basketball didn’t line up as easily as I hoped. At the time I was devastated, but I now understand how important that letdown was to prepare me for who I am and what I’m doing today. Being blessed with the genetics of an athlete allowed me to move seamlessly into the world of track, but it was hard work and commitment that kept me there.
So many of the qualities I learned as an athlete are crucial in business and in my family life. Track is an individual sport and as such, it requires extreme self-confidence and an understanding that when that gun goes off, it is really up to me alone to make it happen. It was only because I evolved from the world of basketball (a team sport, where the individual was less important) to track, that I learned this lesson. This is also the reality of being an entrepreneur – to be successful you must be confident in your abilities as an individual and stop at nothing to make it happen for yourself.
As a high-level athlete, patience is also crucial. You cannot expect success to happen overnight. You have to remain focused on the long-term goal, even if it is taking longer than expected. You also have to know your weaknesses better than anyone else and commit to working on them, whether that means training a weak part of your body or taking advice on designing a business strategy. In business, I know what I don’t know and my pride does not stop me from listening and learning. I call this making my own soup – taking the best from every place and making it work for my business and for me.
Most importantly, my track experience taught me balance, which I believe is the key to life. You might be surprised to hear me admit that I did not give 100% to my athletic career. Even then, I was well aware of the big picture and the greatness that awaited me down the road. Architecture was just as important to me at that time and I knew that also required my attention. I could have given 100% and been a track star on top of the world, but that would not have fulfilled me. I knew I was destined for more than that short-term satisfaction. Today that big picture includes my family, my businesses and my community and that is what truly fulfills me.