Compete Every Day
University of Dallas 2007-2008 MBA
I had a major turning point back in 2008. I was finishing up grad school, trying to be the next Jerry Mcguire and finding out that that wasn’t what I wanted to be doing the rest of my life. I also was dating a girl who I thought I might marry one day and found out she was cheating on me. I was really, kind of in this emotional and mental rock bottom spot. I was lost in my mid 20’s as to what I wanted to do and unfortunately that meant me turning to alcohol and me drinking a lot and not being as pro-active from a health and wellness standpoint. I really looked at what I had and what I had failed to do and compared myself to everyone else. The rock bottom moment for me was on a Wednesday night. I’ll never forget my best friend and roommate at the time comes home from class and I’m sitting on the couch or coffee table with a handle of vodka and playing video games. He said, “it’s 10 on a Wednesday night. We need to have a conversation.” The next morning, he called me out like a good friend should and said that you tell me you aspire to do certain things in life, here’s where your actions are different. Here’s where it’s not lining up with the type of person you say you want to be. You need to change who you say you want to be or change your actions and make sure they align with who you say you want to be. It was really at that moment when I started trying to figure out why I was so obsessed with everyone else and what everyone else was doing and that’s when I was brought back to my childhood love of sports.
I was always the ultra-competitive kid growing up and though I was a smaller kid in Texas, I had the heart, the grit and the hustle to beat other kids out. Competition became my way of life to prove to someone else that I was worthy. More than that, I could outwork you and outsmart you and started basing my identity and my worth around sports, which is a pretty common problem a lot of us have. When you’re living in this state of comparison, there’s always someone ahead of you and always someone behind you. You are rarely ever going to look at people behind you and see your growth and appreciate where you came from but will look at the people ahead of you and have this sense of disappointment that you aren’t there yet.
Fast forward to 2008 when a lot of this started to click. When I was on the sports field. I was focused on making better plays and how could I lead better. What was I doing to be better than I was last game? It hit me that my sense of competition was off the last couple of years. My competition wasn’t with anyone else! It was with me. If I really wanted to change my position, change the way I saw myself, the way I identified my worth, the way I approached my life going forward, I had to stop. I had to stop competing against everyone else and start competing against my own previous best. If I was at rock bottom, what was I going to do today to take one step out. And what could I do the next day to build on that previous step and continue to raise the bar. So really, that was my “Check Your Game” moment because it forced me to evaluate how I was looking at competition, how I looked at my life and how I was comparing myself to others. It almost was like I put blinders on like a race horse so that I wasn’t looking at everyone else and focused solely on myself, my game and how I could start raising the bar to get out of this position I put myself in and start building something I wanted. The first thing that I did was to start to get my physical body rebuilt. Sports were over, but I didn’t still have to be playing to have that mindset of a competitive athlete. I started waking up first thing in the morning and training as well as eating better. I even ate vegetables which I hate! I also started reading books and understanding biographies of others who were successful. So, as I rebuilt the physical side, I was also building the mental side and began on the emotional self-awareness piece with journaling and writing. I was writing what was going on and why was I behaving the way I did. Then lastly, from a spiritual component, I was getting back involved again starting with finding a Church home and community. This wasn’t a big priority the previous 3 or 4 years. I was raised in a super religious home growing up in East Texas and was taught growing up a certain way of living, and that didn’t mesh well with what I saw and experienced firsthand in college. Because of this, I really stepped away from the spiritual perspective and me sitting at that coffee table with my roommate deciding if I wanted to align my actions with who I said I wanted to be.
I had to start from the ground up building the physical, the mental by reading and trying to devour as much info as I could about what I was interested in, building the emotional piece by journaling and writing and building a self-awareness and then finally, the spiritual piece of building community and why I believe I am here and purpose and things like that.
For anyone in a similar place of mine, surround yourself around the right people is the key. That friendship/relationship that pushed me and helped me, almost check myself, is like a good teammate coming up and saying, “hey listen, this isn’t aligning up with the culture and what we have in this “team and locker room” and you need to change.” And so that’s what really started me down this better path as opposed to going through the motions. You have to be intentional and not just going through the flow. If you go with the flow, it’s just like the tide. You can be pulled every which way and then you look up and you’re 4 miles down the beach at a place you never wanted to be.
The second piece of advice I’d also say is to evaluate where you’re spending your time online and who are you following. I think we fail to see sometimes that the people we follow, the content we scroll by on Facebook and LinkedIn has an impact on us and can control our attitudes and perceptions. A lot of times we just follow people and connect with people because we feel obligated because we know them. One of the things I challenge people with, is to go through your list and have a Spring cleaning. See if the people you are following are adding value to your life, adding encouragement and challenging you. If they aren’t adding value, you must teach yourself to stop following them and find people to replace them.
The next thing, and I talk about this in my upcoming book (June 1, 2020), is eliminating the yes men, the excuse makers and the envious ones. As soon as we can eliminate those people from our feeds and add those who are encouraging us and challenging us to live up to a standard, and remind us of who we say we want to be, the faster we can accelerate change in our current position and perspective on life. And the last piece of advice would be to start getting rid of the negative and start adding that positive.
Jake, it has been so nice to get to know you and to hear a little bit of your story. What started out by your roommate calling you out when he sees the handle of Vodka in your hand and then hearing and seeing all the great things you are a part of today, is not only amazing, but is encouraging for others too. I am so appreciative of your time and also your humility and transparency to share some things that aren't always easy to share. You share many things but just a few that really encouraged me to be able to share with others is about identity and also comparing oneself to others. Those 2 things are problems in many people's lives and you not only talk candidly about them, but also give great wisdom as to how to handle them both. The last thing I appreciated as well but wasn't written down on your profile was in regards to your creativity. You talk about when you get away from nourishing the spiritual side, then your creativity takes a dip! Isn't that amazing how that works. I believe we are all given different gifts in life and that our choices, both good and bad, result in whether we are able to use our gifts to the best of our ability. Thanks again for sharing on Check Your Game and looking forward to encouraging others with your story and advice. Oh.....and I can't wait to read your book too! Thanks Gary
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Compete Everyday LLC
Retail and Educational Training/Consulting
We help business leaders & sales teams learn to COMPETE EVERY DAY to build the grit, focus, & mindset necessary to excel at work & life. We offer motivational keynote talks, interactive team workshops, and a multitude of free online resources, including our weekly podcast, blog content, & videos. Empower the members of your team to grow, compete, and build the Winning Mindset necessary to transform them into elite performers!
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Our typical customers are Sales teams, Business leaders, & individuals who must be proactive to succeed in their careers. Commission-based & customer-service teams are an ideal audience for hearing and applying our message.
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