I’m often asked how I made the transition from NBA player to investor and entrepreneur, particularly when so many athletes struggle to do so.
Well, it wasn’t easy.
I don’t have The Answer to that question — everyone is different — but I do have a few thoughts that might be helpful for those of you who need a little reinvention in your life and career.
I retired from the NBA in 2013, at the age of 33. Until that point, basketball had obviously been a major part of my life.
It takes a lot of focus to help your team get to the Final Four, to contribute to winning a gold medal in the Olympic Games, and to eventually become an NBA All-Star.
I don’t list those accomplishments to brag, not at all … only to make clear that, until I was 33 years old, most of my professional focus and time was spent on becoming the best basketball player I could be.
And then, just like that, it was over.
I had to make decisions I’d never had to make before. I had to develop new skills that didn’t come easy. I had to meet and build relationships with new people I didn’t know. I had to strive every day toward new goals.
All of this newness was uncomfortable at times, but I never quit. And I didn’t do those things right out of the gate.
So, what did I do?
I “disappeared” for an extended period of time. I got away and alone as much as I could for several months, I didn’t do any press, I wasn’t “available for comment.”
I sought solitude.
I wanted to be alone with God, to seek out his will for the rest of my life, and I wanted as much time as I could manage to simply sit and think.
You see, when you find yourself in a creative space between two eras of your life, the last thing you need to do — for a time anyway — is act.
I had been taking aggressive action in one direction for so long, I needed to completely stop the train so that I could assess, reevaluate, and ultimately reinvent.
And you can’t think clearly when you’re bombarded by the products and images of society and culture, by the Internet, even by well-meaning friends and acquaintances.
You see, the scariest person in the world is ourselves! It’s tough to go away by yourself and truly face yourself. Blaise Pascal was one of the greatest philosophers and mathematicians that ever lived. Even he said:
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
People talk about FOMO (the fear of missing out) … but I’d like to think I flipped that concept on its head in this process and experienced JOMO — the JOY of missing out. I got out of the groove I was in by shocking my system, by disappearing for a time, by facing myself, and yes, by enjoying the process of letting the world pass me by.
And how has it turned out?
I’ve still got a long way to go, a lot of mountains to climb, many battles to win, but things have turned out good.
As I quietly walked into a new era of my life, I slowly began asking new questions. I ultimately reflected on the success — financial and otherwise — I’d had as an NBA player, but realized that the people signing those checks did much better than we ever did!
And who are those people? Investors, hedge fund folks, entrepreneurs. I’d always had an interest in high-level business, but it was starting to click even more … the entrepreneur was always in me, but now he was about to make his serious debut on the world stage for the first time.
Just because one door closes, doesn’t mean it’s all over.
It’s never really over.
You only need to make the time and space to think for a season. Even if it’s difficult to do with current work obligations, family, and the rest … I believe you’ve got to do it, if you’re truly going to reinvent yourself.
This is the art of reinvention, and you are the artist.
Get to work.
P.S. Have you subscribed to my podcast, Betting on Yourself? Every week, I talk to some of the most interesting people in the world about life, entrepreneurship, and making the best (and safest) bet in the world … on you! Click that link above and jump on my email list right now so you never miss an episode.