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How to Harness the Athlete's Mindset for Business Success

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My dream growing up was to be a professional athlete and an Olympian. I worked for years toward accomplishing my dreams, leaving it all on the field, on the court and in the gym. I didn’t have a Plan B, and after getting injured while playing professional football, I was broken, broke and clueless on how to make money or get a career.

That’s when I took what I knew from becoming a world-class athlete and started over -- my quest to learn about business, marketing and adding value to influential people (even when I thought I had no value to give) began. I had gotten a taste of being a pro athlete for a short amount of time. One of the most important things I learned from that journey was seeing what is possible in life when I commit to my vision and pursue it with 100 percent passion. Anything is possible.

Since then it’s been a powerful journey for me -- building up a multi-million dollar online media company, speaking all over the world, helping authors reach the New York Times bestsellers list, advising for billion-dollar brands, receiving media praise from places like Details magazine and much more. People ask me how I did it, and I always say that an athlete’s mindset was a huge part of it.

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Here are some of the main things that set athletes up to succeed in the business world:

1. Hustle 

“I want to be remembered like Pete Rose. 'Charlie Hustle.' I want people to say, 'Wherever he was, he was always giving it his all.” -- Walter Payton

More than anything, hustle is about doing whatever it takes. Hustle is about faith in yourself to do what needs to be done and being unstoppable on your mission. When I say to myself that I know I will succeed, it isn’t just about being positive, it is about knowing I will put in the hustle to make it work because in my mind failure is not an option.

When I have been up for five hours working and my neighbor is just getting out of bed, I know I have the advantage because while he was still sleeping, I was growing my business. Michael Jordan exemplified the ultimate hustle in his infamous “flu game” when he put up 38 points in a 1997 NBA Finals game while suffering with the flu. Now that is inspiring.

2. Passion 

“Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures.” -- Joseph Campbell

Most successful people will tell you that it isn’t so much about how you will get to where you want to be, but about why you are doing it. There can be thousands of people smarter, faster, more connected and more talented than I am, but I know that my passion can go further toward achieving my goals -- especially when those who are used to coasting on talent or privilege may not be as driven or focused. Passion is what gets you up again after falling 100 times over. Add hustle to passion and you are a force to be reckoned with.

Related: How to Make the Most of Your Business Mentorship

3. Focus

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” -- Bruce Lee

It is easier than ever to get distracted and lose focus. Steve Jobs is famously quoted for having said that he was just as proud of the things Apple didn’t do, and “innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” When I steer myself by an overarching mission and vision, I am less likely to be led astray by doubts, setbacks and failures. Athletes learn to tune out the noise of self-doubt, fear and the din of the crowd in order to accomplish that given moment’s singular task. Focus enables you to succeed when you have prepared for that moment for years and the opportunity finally presents itself to win.

4. Consistent Vision

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” -- Oprah Winfrey

When you have a vision, you don’t have to push yourself, you are virtually pulled by it. Once you secure that vision concretely, it is much easier to focus because you hold yourself accountable to a bigger framework that keeps you on track and limits the ability of distractions or failures to throw you off.

Athletes learn how to visualize, and once you can envision it, you can achieve it. The rest is hustle, passion and focus.

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