Student-Athletes - How To Conquer The 'Real World'

Dear All Former Student-Athletes,

I get sucks, but it's great at the same time. No more early morning practices, coaches yelling (sometimes with spit) in our face, meetings, workouts, you name it - it's almost like we had no idea there was so much time in one day! At the same time, we do miss the comradery that comes from a team - working out with your best friends, times in the locker room, WINNING! Our coaches always told us, "The ball is going to go flat one day, what will you do when it goes flat?!" What we should have said was, "Use the tools you gave us to be successful in the 'real world'." Here are the tools we already have - we just have to put them to use!


You are self-disciplined. Think about it - you had to wake up at the crack of dawn to be at early morning practices or workouts. Regardless if your roommate was helping you get up, you were always up. If you were late, then the repercussions were to run and run and run...the last thing we wanted to do was run because I didn't get out of bed.

Now, let's think about the 'real world.' You get to operate on your own time and there's no one who will forcibly make you run for being late. The repercussions might be different, but the principle is the same. We are used to getting up early - we had to do it for 4-5 years throughout college (not to mention the 15+ years before college). It's programmed in our mind to wake up early, so be the first one in the office - it's no different from being out at practice. Not only will you be the first one, but everyone will notice.


We are used to wins and losses - it's something ingrained in your brain. Every single sport has a winner and loser and as athletes, we want nothing but to be on the winner side. We had coaches yelling at us to always get better. One thing that we always knew to be true - the best plays. If you aren't the best, then you will be on the sideline and the sideline/bench is the best place for you to motivate yourself to be the starter. So, take the internal motivation and turn it into the motivation you need to progress in your career.

Think about this - if you were always about pleasing others (your teammates, mom & dad, coaches, ect.), then you wouldn't have been starting on your team or playing. You would've been too focused on making everyone happy that you would've lost focus on the task at hand - become a starter! In the real world, it's no different. You will make other people upset because of your work ethic. People will get insecure that you are working so hard, but the best part about it is that those people will bring the noise back into your life just like all the newspapers and media outlets. Bring on the noise - WE LOVE IT because it brings about even more MOTIVATION!

Team Player

As much as we wanted to individually be successful, every great athlete understands that you cannot be successful without the team being successful. You know how to sacrifice for your teammates, pick up a teammate, and motivate your teammates to be the best they can be. Regardless of the message you were delivering to a teammate, it was always in good spirit because WE need to win.

Use these same skills to be a team player in the workplace. Remember that if your team isn't successful, then you won't be. So, work towards one common goal - delivering your business to be better than it was today. Continue to sacrifice, whether it's staying late to help a colleague or picking up an extra project. Do whatever it takes to win, just like you did as an athlete.

Respect for Others

One thing that all sports do is bring about a respect for other athletes and teams. Look at Lebron James and Kevin Durant - Lebron is arguably the best basketball player in the world and Kevin Durant is arguably one of the best in the NBA today (this is just an example so basketball people just hear me out). They both have the utmost respect for each other and their crafts. They also respect their coaches and competitors all alike as we all have one common goal in mind - to win and win the championship.

As you are working, you'll find that you respect those who are also grinding at work and who are genuinely there to help you. Continue to show that respect to all of your colleagues. You remember those days when you had an off-day and didn't perform to expectations - keep that in your mind as everyone isn't going to be able to be on top of his or her game every day. I played football and basketball in the south, where using the words "sir" and "ma'am" came naturally to me because that's how we show our coaches respect. So, I continue to use those words when speaking to colleagues older than me to show respect.

The 'real world' is our new game. A game that we have been prepping for our whole lives - we just didn't realize that sports would be our runway. We have a head start, so take advantage!

Good luck! Feel like no one is supporting you like those thousands of fans in the stadium? Well, I'm your biggest fan and will continue to be your support! Keep grinding!

If you need help or advice, do not hesitate to reach out to me! Don't forget to hit those follow buttons at the top!