by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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…what it took to get there.

Think about that, because it is so true.  If you are willing to do the work, you can sometimes reap the benefits.  There are no guarantees in life, other than the guarantee that if you do not try and try very hard for a long period of time, you will definitely not succeed.

I have to catch myself when someone says “Oh you are lucky to still be so fit”, because my first instinct is to take a swing at them.  Don’t worry, the urge passes quickly.  But, I grew up as a very skinny kid, and was teased mercilessly at times about it.  I was self conscious about it for a really long time.  I live in Phoenix and dreaded summers, as the shorter version of shorts were in style back then and my skinny thighs were on full display.  After an injury as a freshman ended my wrestling aspirations, there also went my “excuse” for being thin.  I was trying to make the team in the 98 pound weight class, so at least I would have had that “reason”.  Later on I switched over to playing racquetball competitively, I wore sweatpants for the first several years of playing tournaments because I was embarrassed about how thin my legs were.

When I played on the Pro Tour ten years later, I weighed a whopping 135 pounds and was one of the lightest guys to ever play at that level.  There was a huge gap between me and the players in the top 10 in the world, but I got within an arm’s reach despite not having the same physical attributes as many of the guys I competed against.  It was only after I retired and stopped the incessant training that I was able to add some muscle to my frame.  I now weigh about 165 and look like a reasonably proportioned human being.  So when someone says I am “lucky” to look this way, they do not know what the Hell they are talking about.  Not only did all of the above apply, but I have put countless hours in the gym, researching diet and lifestyle changes to try and gain muscle.  It has been a ton of work getting to where I am at, and most people have no idea what that has been like.  We all have our own battles to fight, this has been one of mine.

As Elon Musk said:  “My mind is a storm.  I don’t think most people would want to be me.  They may think they would want to be me (for the riches and benefits) but they don’t know, they don’t know, they don’t understand.”  Everyone sees him as one of if not the richest man in the world (minus the Saudi Oil Barons who do not report their wealth) and think Oh man, I would love to be that guy.  No you wouldn’t…this is a man who slept at the Tesla factory for three years, working 100 hours per week to try and get that company to profitability.  Keep in mind, that he had several other companies he was starting/running at that same time.  He has sacrificed a LOT of time with his kids because of this, and this time will never be recovered, no matter how much money he ends up with.

But here is the real takeaway that I want to make sure is understood.  You CAN make things happen if you work hard.  I did.  Despite the struggles I had…no…BECAUSE of the struggles I’ve had, I am the person I am today.  It was part of the journey and a large part of the end result.  Elon’s story is very different from mine, but the essence is the same:  work hard and make shit happen.  MAKE IT happen, not wait for it, not pray or dream, but put a plan in action and then get to work.  There is still a ton of opportunity in this country to be had, and if you squander it, you will have no one to blame but yourself later on.  Your future self needs the you of today to get to work.

I realize that not everyone has it within themselves to achieve great things.  If it were easy, everyone would do it and there would be very little separation.  But clearly that is not the case.  However, the new definition of average is sounding pretty bleak these days.  Overworked in a job they hate, underpaid for said job, unhealthy, poor sleep patterns, stressed out, divorced, and credit card debt of alarming amounts.  According to the website Quora.com and others, the average American IQ is 98.  And this CNBC.com website shows that of those who responded to the survey, 60% of Americans have less than $500 in their savings account.  Scary.  But these things can also be improved.  Now I know times have been difficult, pricing of things has grown exponentially while wages have not been close to keeping up.  But I also believe that there are measures to be taken to avoid falling into the category of normal.

I didn’t start out this way, I was quite normal for a long time.  I lived beyond my means (earnings) by purchasing lots of things on credit cards.  Before long I was $40,000 in credit card debt, and I had student loans on top of that.  But I went to work, and I solved that problem.  Others can too.  I don’t have any special talent or gifts that makes these things possible, and I certainly didn’t get any monetary gifts from family to help out.  It is just a matter of putting a plan in place and getting to work.  For a time I had not just one job but two or three.  In addition to my day job, I taught racquetball classes at ASU to make an extra $800 a month.  I drove for Lyft during the summer when classes were out.  I have put in the miles, literally and figuratively, to solve the problems I had created.

So again, the moral of this story is simple:  hard work solves a lot of problems.  You need a plan, a good plan, one that has worked for others such as Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or something similar to get out of debt.  If it is your health that is the main concern, start looking into alternative ways to combat the problems you face.  I personally am of the opinion that this falls on your shoulders, not a government agency to tell you what to do for your health.  There is too much money at play for me to feel comfortable in trusting the “approved” pathway laid out.  But I will leave that up to you, do your own work and make your own decisions.

Life is short.  You are going to wake up tomorrow and be 50 and wonder what the Hell happened.  I know, I feel that way sometimes.  Get to work, sooner than later.  It’s the only way you are going to solve the problems life has handed you.  Take it from me, I have been in your shoes.  Level up to a place where people look at you like you are “lucky”, even though you will know deep down in your soul that luck had nothing to do with it.

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

 

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