Sometimes your whole life can change from what you thought was a loss

We were fortunate this summer to escape the heat of Atlanta and make our way to Bar Harbor, Maine (thanks to all of you that gave me suggestions on what to do there!). We also traveled to Montreat, North Carolina, for a week. But now, as the song goes, it’s ‘back to life…back to reality’.

I also read a ton of books this summer and I’m already mourning the loss of the extra reading time. And speaking of books…

You need to buy this book!

If you’re looking for a book to inspire you in your life or career, then you need to grab a copy of Jo Ann Herold’s new book, Living on a Smile. If you know Jo Ann (formerly the CMO of HoneyBaked Ham, Interface, Arby’s, and many other brands), then you know she’s one of the most genuinely kind and happy people on the planet. She’s also excelled at everything she’s done in her career, resulting in her being given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Marketing Association (she’s way too young for that award, but very deserving).

So, grab a copy of her book, and then save your book money for my 4th book which comes out in November. Stay tuned on that one ;)

So, I got spanked in this tennis match…

I went to a small liberal arts college for the first two years in order to improve at tennis enough to ultimately transfer to a Division I school. Limestone College in South Carolina was a perfect match: small enough that I could play #1 singles on the team and get a partial scholarship, and close enough to Davidson for me to visit my then girlfriend (now wife of 22 years).

Playing #1 singles meant I played the best player on every team we faced. And some times, I did get spanked. But in this particular example, I actually played a close match and lost in three sets to the #1 player at Belmont Abbey in North Carolina. Even though I played well, I wasn’t happy after the match because I knew I could have beaten the kid. I didn’t lose a ton of matches that year—I think my record was 14-7—so each one stuck with me. And that one was a bummer.

Fast-forward three months and I applied to UNC-Charlotte in hopes of being recruited onto the tennis team. Charlotte is a top 75 tennis school in the nation and I wasn’t sure I could make the starting lineup, having only played against Division II opponents thus far in my college career.

I went on a visit to meet the team a few weeks after applying and immediately fell in love with the campus, the team, and especially, the coach. I was surprised when the coach offer me a spot on the team, and I ended up playing #6 for the two years I had left of my eligibility. Apparently my almost 4.0 grade point average at Limestone did not impress the faculty at UNC-Charlotte, so I had to take a fifth year of school and during that time I was the assistant tennis coach, working with Coach Boykin daily.

Coach Boykin giving some much needed advice to me and my doubles partner.

Coach was, and still is, a hero to me. He always puts his family first, leads with his heart, and has more integrity than anyone I’ve ever met. In fact, I dedicated my last book, The Great Team Turnaround, to Coach Boykin due to how much I learned from him about building a great team.

I asked Coach one day during that fifth year why he recruited me to the Charlotte tennis team given that he had never seen me play an actual match. He said it was an easy decision because he saw my result against the #1 player at Belmont Abbey, who he said was a phenomenal player, and anyone that could take that guy to three sets must be a good player.

This past weekend I watched Coach Boykin be admitted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame

This past weekend I found myself at the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame ceremony, watching my coach be admitted for his 40+ years of successful coaching in the state.

A few of my teammates were able to attend and we had a great time in Greensboro, North Carolina, hanging out and talking about old times.

Me, Coach Boykin, and some of the other past players celebrating our guy.

The Point

On that late afternoon back in 1995 when I lost to the #1 player at Belmont Abbey, I was devastated. And yet, somehow, that match set me on a course that I never could have imagined. Had I not performed well (even though I lost the match), I never would have ended up at UNC-Charlotte. I never would have met Coach Boykin. I never would have met Raj Choudhury and started my first business (Spunlogic) in the dorm room. And I might never have been an entrepreneur at all!

The point is that life is going to throw some losses your way. It’s part of the journey. But if you can keep your head up, and always try your best, you never know when one of those losses might set you on a course you never could have imagined.

I hope you’re happy.

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