When I was younger, my life was tennis, tennis and tennis.
My big goal was to be able to make it to the top 10 in the world and to have a good, long tennis career. I was in a really good place during my early ages. Between the ages of 14 and 17, I was ranked number 1 in my country (Switzerland).
Since I was born and raised in Switzerland, Roger Federer’s coach at the time (Peter Carter, RIP) recruited me to train at the Swiss Tennis Academy with the best pros and coaches in the country.
It was a really good time for me. I was playing at European and World Championships and ranked in the top 15 in Europe, travelled on the junior tour and played against others in my age group such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Gaël Monfils, and others… and it seemed everything was going well. However, if you know my story, you know what happened.
I injured my leg really badly and tore my quadriceps (my thigh muscle). I couldn’t walk for weeks and it took me about 9 months to just be able to walk normally again. The problem was that I injured myself during the most important time of a young athlete’s life: just before 18 years old.
It was a very interesting experience for me because I was forced to look within and see the lessons I could learn from the experience.
I always knew that I wanted to do pretty awesome things in my life. I didn’t really know “specifically” what I wanted to do other than tennis and making movies. However, when I was resting during my leg injury (I literally couldn’t move for weeks), I had a lot of time doing research and basically being curious.
From then on, I started studying a lot on building online businesses and ventures and that’s the path I took. I launched my first internet company at the age of 17 and it went on to generate 7 figures in the first 36 months.
CONNECTING SPORTS AND BUSINESS
The world of sports has always influenced my life. I also love ice hockey and follow the NHL a lot and I’m a big fan of the Ottawa Senators. I used to play hockey when I was younger too. At the age of 13, my coach asked me to choose between hockey and tennis, and I chose tennis.
Since then, I have always been amazed by the similarities between sports and business. Pretty much everything I learned in sports is applicable to business.
This gave me a HUGE advantage when I launched my first company, from gaining work ethic, planning, putting in the work and the hours. I wasn’t the most “talented” tennis player. Far from it. There were kids who were way more gifted, but one thing that I was best at was work ethic and professionalism.
I remember being noticed by some big coaches for being the first one to train every day. While everyone was having breakfast at the training academy, I would be hitting serves alone, running, sprinting and doing push ups. I was doing more work than others — sometimes DOUBLE — during those years when I was really crushing it. Interestingly, I took that work ethic to business. And, this was one of the reasons why I transitioned so easily and got big results pretty fast.
Master The Things You Can Control
“Smart and hard work pays off” — that’s what sports taught me. Remember, there’s always someone who is more talented or more gifted than you. You can’t control your competition’s IQ, their plans or their talent. But one thing that you CAN control is the effort you put into YOU, your company, your business, your health and into anything you do.
I remember reading a book by Brad Gilbert (who coached Andre Agassi to success) called “Winning Ugly” when I was 14 years old (I carried the book around in my tennis bag everywhere I went), which gets into the mindset of desiring control and mastery with anything controllable such as your preparation, equipment, sleep and training.
There are so many things you can’t control that it becomes vital to master everything you can control. You can’t control the weather, the crowd, being sick, etc. This idea of work really stuck with me at a very early age. From then on, I always reminded myself: “the more prepared you are, the less you have to fear.”
Try to think of tennis. Try to think of being able to put in the work, to put in as much work to control everything you can. The Ottawa Senators’ coach always tells his players: “You can never control the opponent, but when you put in the work, you create opportunities for yourself.” Again, maybe those opportunities will never materialize, never happen, but if you put in the work, the “smart” work — you increase the likeness of the opportunities happening.
Think of the small things you can control today that can increase the likelihood of succeeding. You can’t control success, but you CAN control the effort and the quality of work you put in.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Do you have a story about being well prepared and crushing it because you felt confident?
Would love to hear your thoughts in comments. 🙂