Stumbling into Success
It seems that there are more and more new readers, so allow me to introduce myself through revisiting some of my failures and through those beautiful setbacks I am here, before you today.
Marcus Aurelius was the most powerful man in the world, with access to everything and everyone but he chose to rule the Roman Empire with Stoic philosophy and he also chose to rule himself, his desires, his actions, his perceptions and his attitude with Stoic philosophy in guiding himself to “living in accordance with nature.” Stoicism reached me in a year when my professional team was 1-19, my long-term girlfriend and I broke up, I had only 1 friend on the team and I hated the weather (or maybe the weather hated me) My perspective was that "everything sucked, everything wasn't fair and that I was the victim." I chose to be a victim and therefore I was. With Stoicism now in my back pocket, I realized that the perception I chose in life, was just that, my choice and just like prescription glasses, it was up to me to choose the one that most aligned with how I wanted to live my life. (hint: not as a victim) I realized my happiness or external circumstances (how I play, the success of my team, living in a warm city, having great teammates, having a partner that reciprocated my feelings back and the weather) was more or less by chance, more specifically – they were not completely within my control.
Yes my actions and attitudes, which were completely within my control, could correlate with my external circumstances being more favorable and more aligned with my personal preferences manifesting, but… It became clear that joy (what's within) was completely within my control and it was now up to me to change my priorities in life and change my course, with Stoicism serving as the new compass in my life: What I put into my body, how I perceived success and failure alike, my attitude, my actions and most importantly my ability to love even those, that out of ignorance or muddled character weren't so loving – all, completely within my control. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in life, mostly through failing, through my setbacks and through experiencing these roadblocks on my own, in a country far away with not one to help nor assist me.
Before my 11 years as a professional overseas, I never wanted anything to do with volleyball, until by chance as my friends from the soccer team were going to try out for the spring sport of indoor volleyball. I thought I was pretty good, we won the Freshmen League title and I was able to make a local club team. Not only that – But I was going to something called the Junior Olympics! With wristbands adorning both arms I was big time, except that I wasn’t. Our team entered the club division (the lowest division) and we ended the tournament in last place, losing to a team from Maryland to seal our fate.
On my way home, I made three realizations – (1) I wasn’t that good, in fact, I was really bad. (2) I loved volleyball. (3) I had a lot of work in front of me because if I was going to play this sport, I wasn’t going to be last, ever again. I didn’t realize it at the time but it a sense, I was lucky that I didn’t have many friends in High School as this allowed me to play beach volleyball every day, without any social interuptions and or obligations to hang out with friends. Every second, of every day was committed to playing beach, teaching my younger brother to pepper with me and when he got tired, bumping the ball off the wall, rain gutter and the many bull's-eyes I drew and stuck to the inside of my room. Fast forward to my senior year and I was lifting up the Junior Olympics 1st place trophy, with a gold medal around my neck, from last to first – but this was only the beginning for me, the highest achievement was quickly substituted for a humbling, as I arrived at Long Beach State, realizing once again – “I wasn’t really that good.”
From last place in JOs, to red shirting at CSULB, to not getting a pro contract, to having to spend 2 years in the Finnish Pro league, losing a contract, wiping the floors for 6 years in the USA gym, losing a contract to another team, being benched, being replaced and the lingering shame that followed me like a shadow after my year in Brazil – it was tough but at the end of the day, there was only once option for me, to get up. I am so excited about connecting with the next generation of athletes! An athlete, who is passionate about the game of volleyball, an athlete who is curious about the next step they can take on and off the court to be more confident on the court, shedding a lesser version of themselves each and every day. My goal is to give you the tools, the foresight to enjoy the ups and downs of your journey, embracing the loses and the roadblocks you will experience, knowing that some of the biggest opportunities for growth will be your ‘failures’ and our setbacks alike!
Better Today. Better Tomorrow. Better Together.