The insanity of being an entrepreneur is equivalent to the insanity of the gridiron. As much as you think you’ve got everything planned, anticipated, and strategized, the inevitable is that chaos and uncertainty are breathing down your neck, taunting you, devouring your mind. No matter what bumps and bruises occur, no matter how much you want to quit, with heart and determination, you procrastinate quitting for another day. Every play on the field is the same way.
Entrepreneur and ex-NFLer Tafa Jefferson is the master of being a contingency gladiator. He didn’t play football until his senior year of high school. He had a heart murmur growing up, and he played basketball, and his dad was concerned that he could get injured. He convinced his dad that this would be the only opportunity that, if missed, he would have a life of regret of never being able to suit up and play. He convinced his dad, and it showed in his game highlight film how much of blessing, how he was happy to be there. He’d run thirty yards down field to keep up with the play while others were still and watched the play downfield. Tafa told me he loved the idea of inflicting his will physically on someone and not getting in trouble for it.
For the insanity that is 300-pound men constantly fighting like gladiators within the confines of a few arbitrary but breakable rules, the beauty of the sport is how cerebral it is. Akin to chess, football is won or lost by the strategy of the coaches. These muscular gladiators are special chess pieces strategically placed on the chess board by coaches, and the game is perpetually in the balance on every move. Instantly, strategies are re-calibrated to the dynamism of the current play. A similarity exists in entrepreneurship as well. Income is never guaranteed. The next customer is never guaranteed. Each employee is a special chess piece. Each interaction whether client, employee or vendor is unique. What may seem like a sure thing evaporates while other opportunities arise from nowhere. But the beauty of entrepreneurship is strategizing and contingency planning while the chaos and uncertainty reign supreme.
As Tafa played in the NFL, he knew how fleeting an NFL career was. Roughly 1% of high school football players make it to the next level, and roughly 1% of those make it to the NFL. The average career in the NFL lasts four years. At the NFL level, the game is played in fast forward. The players are stronger and faster not only physically but mentally as well. Tafa always knew that inevitably he’d have to have a contingency plan, but it didn’t dawn on him until he suffered a career-ending injury.
For others in similar circumstances, that fall is one that never is rebound from. They sulk in the replay of the highlights of yesteryear. It’s not that we don’t robotically climb back into the ring. Tafa, myself and everyone that has ever fallen know that its okay to be discombobulated after a fall. But what you can not do is to stay fallen. After an excellent talk with his mother, Tafa found his contingency plan. He founded Amada Home Health Care, to provide home health care for seniors. It is now a thriving franchise that is growing exponentially across the country.
Here are three keys that Tafa used throughout his life that helped him achieve NFL and entrepreneurial success.
Be a humble warrior.
Life is an ongoing battle no matter what your pursuit is. No matter what you have conquered you have to be grounded, understanding that there is no permanency to your victories. They are fleeting and you are never guaranteed anything. Battle hard and be happy to be in this moment.
Success is where you are weakest.
You are most vulnerable at your highest level as you are not going to have the same sense of reflection as you would be when things are failing. Success breeds arrogance and perceived invincibility. Know better, be humble and understand that your successes are never permanent. There is a balance, you should always celebrate your successes but allow for reflection as well.
Always be malleable.
When Tafa became an entrepreneur, he had to learn a new industry all entirely. Throughout his life, he knew the value of being coachable. It was how he went from high school football to college and then to the NFL. What is surprising about Tafa’s success is that he had the humility even though he had tremendous success as a football player to be malleable in an industry he didn’t know anything about.
Read more about Tafa on his business site’s profile page.
Photo credit: AmadaSeniorCare