Depending on your age, you may have time on your side in a big way. At age 16, I felt like I was already behind in relation to my desire to be a professional athlete. In most sports, if you are not well established in your sport of choice by this age, you have missed your window. If I have been smart enough to invest money at this age like I did investing time and effort, I would be worth a lot more money these days…
I invested hard work, diligent practice, and everything else I could add to the equation to overcome the (perceived) timeline I was working against. This is how the formula works; more effort (or money) in, compounded over time, the bigger the payoff (results down the road. For me, the pursuit was Pro Racquetball and I was Hellbent on getting to the top of the sport. I made it into the Top 20 in the world, the reward for all of my struggles and effort yielded a lifetime of memories, great stories to tell, and an understanding of what level of commitment it takes to be the best at something. These are invaluable things to acquire, and they cannot be bought or borrowed. You have to walk that path yourself.
As I eluded to before, I wish I would have taken the same path with investing money, especially starting around age 16. Had I been even half as diligent in this area as I was with my racquetball career, I would be a wealthy man today. Now I can tell you that I don’t really think I ever was committed to being super rich; I am not sure if that comes from grounded roots, or lack of exposure to an opulent lifestyle, but it was never a huge priority for me. I wanted to have time to do things I love to do, and for me, my measure of success in life was more tied to this than how many dollars I have stacked up. I saw people who played sports for a living, and made good money, and this is what I wanted to do. I shied away from being a business owner or corporate C-suite player, as it appeared to me the workload greatly outweighed the perks of those positions. I still struggle with this today, valuing my time and happiness far and above money. But I do want money, and need money, so striking a balance is critical. Otherwise I could just be a homeless fly fisherman and theoretically be the happiest guy on the planet.
So here is something to consider…what do you want for your life over the long haul? Remember, life is not a race, and it is certainly not destination-oriented. If your goal is to own a company or to make it to the C-suite level in a corporation, you can’t leapfrog your way to that spot. There is a progression, over the course of your life, that gives you the background and the knowledge that once you do get the opportunity to be in that position, you are ready. You have to compound the knowledge, experience and other skills along the way to be ready. There is no way to fake this, to buy a short cut, etc. to lessen the timeline and not short change yourself in the process. You HAVE TO EARN IT, and earning it comes from the hard work you compound over time. So if this is the case, and I truly believe it to be so, the next thought should fall to WHAT you focus your compounding efforts on…
Here’s the thing I want you to understand: IT’S YOUR LIFE, YOU GET TO DECIDE. Whatever your goals and dreams are, you need to pursue them fiercely and have complete disregard for what the haters and naysayers are telling you. But here’s the other thing to keep in mind: IT’S GONNA TAKE A LOT OF HARD WORK. There is no way around that, so get prepared. The path I chose showed me the hard work necessary, how other successful athletes conduct themselves on a daily basis, and how money doesn’t make you happy. The Compound Interest Formula works for money, but it applies to hard work as well. If you want more than just linear growth and progress, this formula is key to really gaining ground. I applied the life lessons learned from my racquetball pursuits to the rest of my life, and have been so much better off for it. I’ll give you an example…
Winning a tournament at any skill level is not an easy task. Winning is a skill in and of itself, and you should not disrespect that concept by thinking that any win is an easy one. While racquetball and an MMA fight are not the same thing by a long shot, the terms “Puncher’s Chance” does apply to both. I have walked onto the court expecting to be in complete control of the match only to find my opponent was having an exceptionally good day and made every point I got a struggle. I have twisted an ankle, injured my rotator cuff, and even played (and lost) with what turned out to be a case of walking pneumonia. I did not win any tournaments when these hurdles were placed in front of me; I maybe won that particular match in some cases, but could not carry that forward to the next day. There are things you cannot account for in sport and in life that complicate the process. This is why winning when more than one day of performance is so hard. This is why compounding your skills is so critical.
Tournaments don’t happen every weekend, and the “special” ones, like the State Championships only occur once a year. If you are an Olympic athlete, your window is once every four years, and you may only get one shot to perform. By stacking the knowledge and experience as much as you can, you give yourself the best chance to perform at the highest level possible (for you) in the brightest of moments. Same is true in life, if you are given a chance at something you are not prepared for, you will likely fall short.
While this is not the end of the world, it can be a devastating blow. When you earn your shot, scratching and clawing your way forward to get that chance, THEN you are far more prepared to capitalize. That is a much more likely scenario for success; you have put in the hard miles and you know what you are doing to a much better degree than you did even a year ago. Compound Interest is working in your favor…
To summarize, you can’t take the short cut to get anywhere and expect that to work. You have to stack your experiences, knowledge, and everything else and build the base you stand upon. The better the base you build, the more stable you are as you climb up. If you are a single-skill phenom, you are vulnerable beyond belief. You are ripe for failure simply because you are not prepared and experienced enough to combat it. You need to round out your skills, knowledge and experience to help ensure you are moving forward incrementally. When the big day comes for you, and the chance you have been waiting for is presented to you, THEN you will be ready to capitalize. Be patient in your pursuits…it’s the best way forward.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.
by Darrin Schenck
by Darrin Schenck
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