Perseverance. It is only one word, however it is a foundation in which has built me. Ironically enough, if you asked me if I knew how this word related to my life when I was younger, I couldn’t tell you.
Growing up I had a comfortable lifestyle where I lived with my two parents and two brothers. I was the oldest of the three. To be honest, my brothers looked up to me, but in reality I was a little cub. I needed to be coddled by my parents as I was dependent on them for my needs and I sought affirmation from my peers, while lacking any aspect of leadership.
The reason for these actions was that I did not feel confident in myself or adequate enough in a leadership position. In addition, I never took life too seriously and I slacked off and lost out on a lot of great opportunities growing up. I could have worked harder to be a college athlete, I could have gotten better grades to get in a better college and I could have received better scholarships. However, I was smart enough to get by and did not have to develop a work ethic.
I displayed that attitude on tests, training for basketball, and with life in general. I never had a drive to succeed until I started to fail. And when I failed, and failed again, I took life into my own hands, and “transformed into a lion.”
I experienced my first failure back in high school when I did not make the varsity basketball team sophomore year. This made me sick to my stomach. I thought for sure I was going to make it. Since that day I had a chip on my shoulder that I was going to prove myself to others and be better than them. I worked hard that next summer to make the Varsity basketball team and I was successful.
That was one of my greatest accomplishments, because I saw for the first in my life that developing great habits and hard work truly does pay off. My second biggest failure was when I was rejected from Georgia. The worst part was all my friends were accepted, and I saw how my past actions of not working hard in school were catching up to me. Hungrier than ever, I started my collegiate journey at Auburn where in the first semester I got all A’s to make The Presidents List.
Two semesters later I transferred to UGA and made the Dean’s List. These experiences taught me that in order to be successful a person has to persevere through their failures to accomplish goals.
During my second semester at Auburn, my mother gave me the book called “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You: 7 Steps To Creating Your Ideal Career After College” by Pete Leibman. This book changed my perspective because it taught me that my dreams were in reach and not a fantasy. Meshing the chip I carried on my shoulder with my knowledge from the book, my world was opened up to new-found possibilities and motivated me to find a job where there is a ton more supply than demand: The sports industry.
I began attending sports industry conventions, cold calling for interviews and immersing myself in my studies. I did everything possible to become the best. I became obsessed almost as if I was on a drug. I would spend hours upon hours looking up people to connect with on LinkedIn. When I was not looking up people on LinkedIn, I was reading books on how to approach high executive position people seeking knowledge in the fundamentals of business and people.
Sleep and goofing off became a non-factor. It was all business at this point. I dedicated all my free time to become an ace, so when the time came I was going to prove to everyone that I was worth it. To me it was about doing the impossible, so that one day I could be the most successful person I could be.
For example, I used my drive and passion to network and secure informational interviews with the CEO from the Atlanta Dream, the Athletic Director at Auburn, the General Manager of Fox Sports South, and the majority Co-Owner of the Atlanta Hawks. I felt unstoppable after I talked to these people as if I had found some secret that no one else knew about. It showed me that anyone could attain anything if they put their heart and mind into it.
In addition, I received some great advice and most of the people I talked to have told me that the effort I put in to reach out was impressive. The executives said that most people do not bother to reach out. However, they told me that they were willing to give advice because they were in the same place as many of us are at one point.
It was encouraging to hear that because one day I will be in the same spot as them and I will be more than willing to help anyone and give any advice. As Muhammad Ali said, “Champions aren´t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”
You have to get up every day with the mindset that you will achieve something great. It may be something small or it may be something big, but no matter what you do putting your mind to something and seeing it through is fulfilling and rewarding. There are over 1 million students attending college at any given time, and you have to be able to set yourself a part.
As the great Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield said, “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”