Like many people, I’ve harbored dreams of becoming an Olympian since childhood. And as we live in a society where the reigning message to kids is that you can be anything you want to be, why wouldn’t it be possible? Even if I were to start a sport now, it’s not too late right? There are plenty of older-than-20s Olympians who do fine in their sport (let’s blissfully ignore when they started training for a moment).
This summer, thanks to a lot more working experience on my own business, I finally have an answer: I’m not disciplined enough. That’s not, of course to say I can’t be. I remember my high school swimming coach refusing to let me out of the pool until I had kicked 1000 miserable yards (I literally didn’t know what a flutter kick was and didn’t swim freestyle until 15 years of age). But that’s using someone else as the source of my discipline.
Being a professional athlete means you can summon tremendous amounts of internal discipline from whatever motivates you, to sacrifice a normal life, a social life, and everything else for the sake of training day after day. I should know. That’s just like running your own business.
Maybe every individual has a finite amount of discipline and we must choose how to spend it. Maybe our personalities make spending it on some things easier than others. In any case, I’d discovered that the well of untapped discipline athletes have for their sport, I have for work. Not sport. Because every sport I have ever pursued, I’ve hit a point at which things got too hard and I essentially stopped. On the bright side, this realization makes me feel better about working long hours — I’m just training, right?
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