"I jump into a sand pit for a living"
The Oval Office
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Lauryn C Williams, Worth Winning 2019. ISBN 978-1-7327188-0-7Lauryn Williams was the fastest woman in the world in 2005 when won the 100m at the World Championship. She also has the unique distinction of having won a medal in the summer and winter Olympics. She now works as a financial planner and the book intends to give advice to athletes on the practical and financial aspects of their career – and to avoid making some of the mistakes she made in her career.
In the introduction she makes a strong statement: “If you want to be successful at the pro level you will have to embrace entrepreneurship. If you have no interest in running a business, professional sports is not for you”. She repeats the point: “Athletes are business owners who don’t know how to run a business”.
The book then explains in detail how professional athletics works and why an athlete needs an agent. She is very good on choosing an agent and explaining what to expect from an agent, while keeping control of your own career. While the context is very Americans, the book draws out excellent principles.
She gives very practical advice on supplements and medication: “Use nothing unless prescribed by a medical doctor for medical purposes and even then, explain to them that are in a testing program and you need to check with USADA before taking what they prescribe for you”.
Williams is also strong on the ethical issues of sport, writing “Professionalism is about good sportsmanship and having class…Professionalism is also about how you treat your competitors. Mutual respect is contingent upon how you behave on and off the track”.
She also argues for keeping sport in perspective: “sport is what you do, not who you are” adding “No career or fame will satisfy your need for significance. You need your identity and worth sorted out or you will spend your life chasing external things that do not satisfy you and never will”. In a personal statement she writes: “For me that purpose is using my Talents to honor God and serve people well”.
I remember talking to Williams near the end of her career and she told me that she trained well and even looked good in races but the clock did not stop quickly enough! I was therefore interested to read her 5 stages of retirement
1 Denial: “I didn’t really have to stop competing- I should still be on the team
2 Anger: “If [fill in the blank] didn’t happen I would still be to continue competing for longer.’
3 Bargaining: “Maybe if I work really hard I can get back in for just one more year:
4. Depression: “I have nothing now that my career is over, I’m worthless outside of my sport.”
5 Acceptance: “There is more to life than sports. I can now spend time [fill in the blank].”
This is a book which would benefit any athlete at the beginning of their career.