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Is It Time to Quit | You’re Not Gonna Be Great Again


By Matt Scott

Your business is finished. You’ll never reclaim your past success or be like the greats…so give it up.

Imagine being told this by a giant in your industry or even a business great. I don’t know what it is about human nature, but it seems there are always people out there who love to kick other people when they’re down – whether in business, life or sports.

I would hate for you to believe this person – even more so because of their level of greatness. There are times when you need to break from the pack, family, and even a mentor or your coach. Yes, I said to go in a different direction from your mentor, coach or anyone you idolize.

When you know what you want and want it badly enough, your sacrifice and persistence will win in spite of other people’s opinions.

Michael Jordan said this about Tiger Woods in 2016:

The thing is, I love him so much that I can’t tell him,
You’re not gonna be great again,

Jordan may have not said it to Tiger’s face, but saying it in the interview pretty much had the same effect. Here was the greatest basketball player of all time telling one of the greatest golfers of all time it was time to hang it up.

He also had this to say, “I think he’s tired. I think he really wishes he could retire.” The thing is, a lot of people inside and outside of golf believed the same thing Jordan believed, that Tiger was done, he’d never come back and should just retire. But Tiger didn’t retire. In fact, he reinvented himself and roared back, winning this year’s Masters in a way he’d never done before, by coming from behind in the final round. It was his first major win since 2008.

Well, what did Jordan have to say after Tiger’s Masters win? “I never thought he’d get back physically,” Jordan told The Athletic. “He didn’t think he’d get back physically. But he did it. No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable. Mentally, you always think you can. But you can’t answer to what your body has to deal with. … To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”

That’s right, it was one of the greatest comebacks in sports Jordan or anyone else for that matter has ever seen. The road back to the top wasn’t easy.

Back in 2016, when Tiger was at his lowest, he had two choices:

1) Listen to the critics and give up
2) Keep fighting

Tiger chose to keep fighting, but to get back to the top, he couldn’t just keep doing what he’d done before. Physically, it wasn’t possible. He had to change his entire approach to the game from the physical to the mental aspects.

Numerous neck and back injuries, as well as personal problems, put Tiger way off course from winning championships. So what did he do? He reinvented his game. He made adjustments to accommodate his 40-year-old body because he couldn’t do the same things he did when he was younger and healthier rattling off 14 major wins before the age of 33.

Tiger used criticism as fuel and pivoted to regain his dominance.

Now let’s talk about another giant of their field – Steve Jobs. In the early 80’s, Steve Jobs was on top of the world. He was young and he was rich after taking Apple public in 1981 and launching the first Macintosh computer in 1984 revolutionizing personal computing forever.

But all that came crashing down in 1985 when he was fired from Apple after a power struggle with CEO, John Sculley, whom he had hired from Pepsi. Steve Jobs was banished to tech Siberia. Many of the tech leaders at the time were telling Jobs the same things Tiger’s critics were telling him at his lowest point…to give up. Jobs had this to say about how he felt right after getting fired, “What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.”

I was a very public failure.
– Steve Jobs

But just like Tiger, Jobs didn’t give up. Instead of crawling in a hole, Jobs reinvented himself. He couldn’t keep doing what he did before because what he did before had gotten him to this low point. In a series of interviews with Fast Company after being fired, he revealed that among the eight lessons he learned from being fired was to not be a jerk and to learn to adapt. Pretty good lessons to live by if you ask me.

Learn to adapt Steve Jobs did. It’s debatable if he stopped being a jerk but let’s assume he was at least less of a jerk. In late 1985, Jobs reinvented himself. He started not one, but two new companies – NEXT Computer and Pixar Animation Studios. NEXT never took off in its own right, but it was acquired by Apple in 1996 for $496 million and its operating system became the foundation of Apple’s modern OSX operating system. More importantly, the NEXT acquisition brought Jobs back into the Apple fold where he was named CEO in 1997. And the rest, as they say, is history. Ironically, it wasn’t Apple that made Jobs a billionaire, it was Pixar when it was acquired by Disney in 2006 that made Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder at the time.

Asked about his firing years later Jobs related, “Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

For the entrepreneur who’s faced criticism and been kicked when you’ve been down, you can either keep with the status quo and keep doing the things that haven’t or no longer work for you or you can adapt. See, if we follow what’s been done before, we follow the status quo.

How can you find greatness in copying what’s been done before?

When doing things in real estate, raising capital, and starting new companies that have not been done before…you have a better chance of greatness just like Tiger. Sure, no one and I mean no one truly expected Tiger to return to his greatness except for the little kid inside that sees him as a hero.

You may be your only supporter, but that’s all you need to reach Tiger’s heights.

So think about all those seminars, webinars, experts and gurus you’ve been following who all have their own ‘system’ they insist you must follow in order to find greatness. I’m telling you to toss it all out and cut your own path to your goal. Tiger didn’t regain dominance by following anyone’s path or advice. Steve Jobs didn’t lead Apple to dominance by following anybody else’s rules. He created his own.

Ignore the doubters, including your family and friends, thinking they all know what they’re talking about when it comes to your business, telling you this and that trend has passed or that you’ll never make it back from past missteps or false starts. Stop listening to others and go pull a Tiger for the rest of 2019. Even so-called experts are wrong, especially when it comes to you. Only you know if you can pull off a Tiger or Steve Jobs.

I was once there. I continually faced naysayers and doubters yet forged my own path.

A traditionalist may look at my background and think there is no way I should have achieved the level of success that I have in life. I graduated from college with a low C GPA in Accounting, but I got a job with a CPA firm after beating out over 115 other applicants. I left there in 30 months and started companies which I had no experience or business starting (from others’ POV). I sold one of those companies and went full time into real estate and raising capital. I own or have owned everything from residential to commercial to vacation property and even a golf course as well as equity in multiple private companies.

My 14-person team raises capital for companies of all sizes, large and small, in the U.S., Central America, Canada and even UAE (Dubai). Over the years, I’ve learned it is best to ignore talking heads and the “best practices” they tout and break from the beaten path to create my own success.

  • I have ignored my mentor’s advice when I saw higher peaks.
  • I have dismissed the capital market “standards”.
  • I have snubbed my family’s and friends’ negative comments.
  • I have discounted all the potential competitors’ processes and operations.

Many, many times over the years, I warned everyone in the audience of my presentations, speeches and events….

You’re guilty of “Incestuous Marketing and Business Practices”

In other words, you simply repeat what your competition is doing and you use the excuse of “I’m modeling their path to success”. In reality, you and your competition are simply playing in the game of mediocracy.

The greats do not model others in their field.

Are you able to ignore the critics?
Are you able to break from ‘industry standards’?
Are you willing to achieve things beyond what others expect of you?

Let’s be realistic… most people cannot.

Many are not able to go against tradition, their competition, their mentor’s advice, or their past.

Only time will reveal the greats.

Will you make it?

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