What a summer this has been.
Nothing went according to planned. I re-injured my knee, had appendicitis which lead me getting my appendix removed, and missed out on a major opportunity I’d worked on all spring. It’s easy to get discouraged and to grumble about how unfair the universe is. But life constantly teaches us that all things that are right and proper will happen on their own time. No matter how well you plan something and anticipate a flawless execution, if it’s not the time, you’ll be shown that. Once in a blue though, it’s not your plan that will change. You just realize what your purpose is and where your focus needs to be.
I’ve shared some insight about my professional life both here and on my personal blog. I had my career planned out. I wanted to be an agent with a mid-sized agency for about 3-5 years. That’d be enough time to make connections then branch out on my own. I found myself immersed in the shark tank of sports management. It just doesn’t work that way. If you’re not friends with or tightly connected to a top 10 draft pick, you’re going to have put in some real grind work to become your own boss.
Take for instance, Rich Paul.
Without a college degree or any real management experience, Rich’s connection to Lebron James gave him the privileges to build a start-up right alongside his mentors. He now has his own sports agency representing Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, and of course the King himself. This type of ascension in sports management is extremely rare. We probably won’t see that again for another 7-10 years. But the lesson that comes out of seeing Rich Paul’s path is that you can be unconventional as a black man and still get far in the business world.
I always said to myself that I would never blur the lines of professionalism and ethics. When I look at the black agents who paved the way – men like Henry Thomas and Bill Duffy – it’s not about partying all hours of the night and private jets. My perception was that being a successful agent was about managing your client’s image so that when he retired, his brand would stand the test of time. As with most situations, things change when you’re actually in the situation.
Today’s athletes are so young and have no real grasp on what they want their brand to be. All they know is the once David Stern calls their name, living the dream is now an everyday responsibility. Oddly enough, it’s through the eyes of guys nearly 12, 13 years younger than me that I’ve re-discovered my purpose and my own desire as an agent.
My unwritten mantra of success for is when you’re blessed, it’s your responsibility to bless someone else. A blessing you can give someone without even knowing it is to live your life as a symbol of perseverance.
We all go through struggles that make us doubt ourselves. It’s easy to give up or make excuses as to why something isn’t meant to be. When things get hard, it’s only a test to see how badly you want what it is that you’re pursuing. I’ve said a few times on this site that failure is inevitable. It’s your ability to adapt that determines the longevity of your success. My application to the NBPA got denied at 1st and I could’ve given up. I had a college degree and had always been gainfully employed at top companies. But for me, my dream meant more to me than the delays.
Changing your perspective is how you’re able to clearly understand your purpose. Take advantage of the opportunities that offer evidence to answer the question: is where I currently am the same place I’m supposed to stay?
If the answer is a swift “no”, then you need to dream hard and work harder.
My ultimate desire is to be the type of agent that employs guys just like me. Many of my professional counterparts went to Ivy League or upper echelon type universities/colleges. At least 85% of them have law degrees. My journey isn’t their journey. The thing every man must come to understand is that his measurement of success can only be defined and refined by his experience. I’m comfortable with not being the agent who has a $100+ million client list. I’d much rather have my career summed up by the team I surrounded myself with; young guys who, with my help, lived out their dreams without compromising their character or values.
Whatever you’re really good at, use it as the vehicle to get you to the exact point where you want to be. If you keep getting “no’s” or keep encountering delays/detours, step back and re-examine your perspective.
How do you manage the delays/detours in your life? How has changing your perspective on a situation allowed you to be better?