25 Secrets to Success to my Younger Self – 1/2

Dear Younger Self,

Think about what you could’ve done differently as a kid with even a glimmer of the knowledge you have now (cringe-worthy, I know!). Rather, you think back to something you could have improved in your professional career, past relationships, career, health or spirit; there’s probably a range of good and bad thoughts that crossed your mind that lead to positive and negative situations. As is life, though, right?

In my career as a professional athlete, I have had unique life experiences and it’s an honor to share my experiences with you all. Believe me when I say a lot of the superficial shiny exterior of that lifestyle is not as important as my transformation (attach link) as a human being, just like you. I truly hope that you can take something from my experience and apply it to your life.

For me, I was that kid who didn’t listen well and stayed in my own bubble so maybe even if someone would have told me these things, I would have rolled my eyes. Sometimes, you have to learn things the hard way. If life has taught me anything through my unique life experiences, it’s that you get punished for what you don’t know. When I was thinking about my next blog post, I thought, “What did I need to hear as a kid to have reduced hardships and manifested better results.” I’m about to share with you are things I really wish I would have known when I was younger. I guarantee that readers of ALL ages will discover new insight from reading this blog post.

So here are 28 things I wish I could go back and tell my younger self:

1) Stop procrastinating and start now. Even dedicating 5 minutes daily to a chosen skill causes a healthy daily habit. TV and video games and just distractions. The psychology behind ‘starting now’ is rare, but needed in this world where there’s so many distractions. 5 minutes may lead to 5 hours!

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West

2) Live in the now because the future hasn’t happened yet. As I progressed in my basketball career, I would’ve been much better off trying to be the best HIGH SCHOOL player first instead of trying to be like my heroes in the NBA. If you’re in a bad situation, giving your all to the present is the best way out.

3) Take life lessons away from every single experience- Rather good or bad, every experience is an opportunity to turn our lives around. No one can grow without painful experiences. It’s how we learn skills, love, loyalty and many other things. However, we can limit these ‘painful experiences’ by paying attention to what went wrong, listen closely to loved ones and applying these lessons for next time. Spend time getting to the bottom line of situations because the universe is ALWAYS trying to tell you something, which leads me to my next point.

4) Be ready- Like the Abraham Lincoln quote, “If I had 9 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 6 hours sharpening the axe” It’s OK if you don’t know everything about the field you are entering. The work will teach you to do it. You have to be ready, not an expert. (Compliments of BoxingFrogMarketingLLC.com) Be ready. Keep your mind and body strong. Nourish your body so that you have the energy to get through daily challenges and keep your mind fresh so that you can tackle anything that comes your way. This also includes staying current in the field you’ve chosen to work in.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” -Mark Twain

5) Practice gratitude for YOUR unique life. Instead of worrying about what you don’t have, celebrate how unique your life is. For instance, maybe I’m not the fly kid with an abundance of nice cars, watches, and tattoos etc… but I’m extremely unique because I can think for myself and have broken free from peer pressure. I have the most loving family and I’m extremely smart (in my own way) haha. When I take visits to speak with groups of kids, I encourage them to thank their guardians for dropping them off, putting clothes on their back and feeding them. Basically, you always have something to be happy about. Comparison steals happiness.

6) Pray, BUT then go make it happen. I believe we create the life we want to live by our daily diet. Although God is a magnificent creator, I believe the actions we choose will form our future self. Mommy can’t make life happen. Your teacher can’t. Coach can’t. Neither can church. Most of our historic heroes have found great success in strengthening their daily routine and making things happen.

7) Turn negatives into positives. Stay positive through your struggles. In middle school I was not talented, but I’d often dream of being dominant like Shaq or skilled like Carmelo Anthony. At this age, friends aren’t shy about letting you know how flawed you are. It was easy to give into negative thoughts and people who doubted me. It’s hard proving doubters wrong. Everyone is human with flaws so don’t let negativity keep you from doing your best.

8) Venture outside your comfort zone by mixing up your daily routines and atmosphere. Be adaptable. Avoid the need to stay in your pack or bubble. Learn about all types of people, how and their motivation. New habits and experiences means new input. New input means you’re learning. Your older self will thank you later.

9) Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Stop worrying about mommy and/or daddy arguing. They’re trying their best to make life work just like you. Seeing you happy could be the strength they need to persevere. I felt this one in my soul, when I grew to understand it. As an adult, of course we all have worries, but just know that worrying usually doesn’t help. Instead, seek understanding.

10) Simplify your goals and focus on skills, instead of accolades. For instance, if your goal is to become a big man in the NBA, the focus could be better cardio and diet to be in great shape, but that’s not simple enough. Take it a step further by making your goal to run 10 sprints with your Trainor and to stop ordering food pizza from concession stands after school. Dreams and goals need to be simplified so you can work towards them every day.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” -Jim Rohn

11) Use mental tactics to help you follow through your simplified goals. For, instance, if you hate getting up for practice/school/work, you can change your phone’s alarm password to “get up” or post a famous motivational quote to your screen saver. As a kid, in order for me to improve, I had to learn to fall in love with the simple crafts of basketball, and not the luxuries of being famous by using tactics to keep me motivated. The smallest habits really do matter and will pay off.

12) Don’t underestimate the power of people skills and networking. I was having dinner with my mentor, Fred Smith, retired Vp of FedEx. When finishing his basketball career he applied for FedEx. One day he was asked to drive his (soon to be) boss around and they hit it off so well that Fred got a good job & promotion on the spot. He went from paperboy to VP in 14 years crediting his fast pace success to his ability to create a spark with his bosses. Seek mentoring.
I learned this later in life…

13) Seek multiple skills at an early age because you never know how it will help you down the road. I credit most of my playing strategy in basketball to chess. Sounds weird right? Chess forces you to use creativity by constantly finding a solution to make the right play. It also improves patience and critical thinking which is success-oriented skill. You just never know…

“I’m continually trying to make choices that put me up against my own comfort zone. As long as you’re uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.”
– Ashton Kutcher

14) Avoid settling for labels, such as: introvert or extrovert, Democrat or Republican, basketball player or chess player. Settling for a title at a young age does your unique abilities a disservice. Some call this fake entitlement, but that’s a topic for another day. Be unique. Be multi-skilled. Don’t sell yourself short. You only live on this Earth once!

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