Entrepreneurship is a sport…Or how swimming got me this far!

In another life, I was a swimmer. My life looked like the following : wake up at 4, take the bus, swim at 6, got to school at 8, swim at 3, train at the gym at 6, take the bus, go home at 9, shower, eat for the 6th time of the day, go to bed. Repeat. 6 days a week. For a total of 25 hours of training each week.

I don’t swim anymore. I had two concussions in three weeks and my career was over. That easily… I was too old to ever think about going to the Olympics anyway, but it still took me a while to get over it. At the time, I was a beast.

(Look at those shoulders! That shirt was way too tight for me to even think about wearing it!)

I weighted 135 pounds, muscles only (I’m like, 115 now). Swimming is a very hard sport. Every single muscle in your body works. Yes, it’s hard, but what’s harder is the head stuff. Being able to keep pushing even though your lungs burn and you’re about to pass out. To keep swimming when you’re not even able to get your arm out of the water because all your body hurts. At some point, you just wear flip flops all the time, because your abs hurt too much to put socks on in the morning.

There is always something that hurts. Every single fucking day. You know when you have a business and you have a fire to put out? Same thing!

I used to give so much that I couldn’t feel anything. I’d be tired and that was one of the only emotions I could feel. I’d cry in the pool, rage in the pool, want to kill in the pool. The pool was my way out of everything. That’s something I miss about it. I can never go back. I have very few regrets in life. One of them is that I was too stubborn to accept that I was injured and I kept going. It’s my fault, and only mine, that I can’t swim anymore.

Despite everything, swimming has given me a lot. Swimming teaches you to get shit done. Despite whatever is happening in your life, when you get in the pool, you swim. That’s it. Training at a high level has given me a work ethic. Being a really competitive person, I’ve always wanted to be the best at what I do. The difference in entrepreneurship is that you can’t just rage to a point that your body won’t answer to you anymore. Your body is failing you but, if your head tells you to keep going, you keep going. I liked that a lot about the pool. It’s only about you.

Through interviews, I’ve realized that people who have done some kind of intense sport are more likely to be a better fit in a startup context. At this point, you’re not training for fun. You’re doing it because you can’t stop. It’s a lifestyle and these people get that. You don’t stop because it’s time. You stop because you’re done. People who’ve practiced a sport know what true dedication is. They don’t wait for the clock to strike 5pm and they’ll do everything to get the job done! They’re also more likely to ask for help since they know their strengths and their weaknesses. In a sport, even like swimming where you’d think is not a team sport, you build your ability to work in team. In swimming, even if you are the one in the pool, you train, travel, eat and sleep together. You are a family : same thing in a startup.

Sport is a drug. I still have craving sometimes… I can be fine, totally fine for like months. And then cry about the fact that I wish I could go back. Like now. Thinking about it makes me wish I could go back. When things are not going your way, you are the only one you can complain about. Entrepreneurship is much harder… because it’s 110% in your head. You can get over physical pain. Entrepreneurship has, however, nothing physical about it.

I’m not saying you can’t be an entrepreneur if you haven’t done any sport. I’m saying that you’ll need to know a bit more what you’re getting into. It’s intense, it’s tough, it’s unforgiving and it never stops, especially when it starts to hurt. If you launch a business, just do it for the right reasons. If you don’t, you’ll kill yourself trying.

Me, Training back in 2009
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