I used to work at an 8-5 job selling gym memberships. The gym I worked at didn’t have a basketball court, but another location in the same company did, and I had free access. But I had to work from 8-5. And we know how crowded gyms get after work.
So I had to go to the gym before work.
I started waking up at 4AM and going to that gym, working out and getting to my job by 8. I fell asleep at my work desk constantly and even got thrown out of a regional sales meeting because of my nodding-off habit. But I had no choice but to keep that schedule if I wanted to pay my bills (job) while building my future (basketball).
Years later I got a little comfortable. I was going to a gym that I could get to pretty much any time before 12 noon and have no trouble with it being crowded. Until one day they posted a notice that a summer camp would occupy the gym from 7AM-5PM for a month. So again I had to get up early to get my workout in. This time I realized I had a real competitive advantage — getting up and getting to work while most people were still sleeping — that would create value that carried past the gym. I still get up sometime in the 4AM hour to this day, though with no time constraints forced on my life. This is where “Work on Your Game” came from.
Jay-Z tried really hard to get a record label to sign him as a rapper and no one would bite. Without any other options, he started his own company. Now he’s one of the most revered entrepreneurs of the hip-hop generation.
50 Cent was shot multiple times, almost died and came back to create a business empire based on an indestructible, bold and fearless persona. When you’ve been intentionally shot at by someone standing right next to your car window, I don’t think there’s much left to fear.
The kids in Slumdog Millionaire became great salespeople because they felt a sense of urgency to improve their situation. Nothing was stopping them from being salespeople before they got that urgency.
Napoleon Hill came up with the title “Think and Grow Rich” the night before his publisher’s deadline for a book title, when he had been working on a book title for months.
Your best skills will be skills that you had no choice but to develop. When your back is to the wall, some unexpected occurrence puts pressure on you, something you value is threatened and you have no choice but to fight to keep it. And that skill, accurately identified, can catapult you through the rest of your life.