The second reason why I believe I’ve been so successful is that I surrounded myself with people that truly wanted the best for me. (Read Part ONE if you haven’t yet)

2. Surround yourself with people who believe in you

“Why would I want to go back to college?”, I told him.

“I dropped out five years earlier….plus I’m happy with my life.”

I had a part-time job cleaning pools. I spent the rest of my time coaching wrestling. What more could a 23-year-old want from life?

I took the job as the assistant wrestling coach from a suggestion by my former high-school wrestling coach who had since become a pastor. He said it would be good for me to get back into wrestling since I used to love it so much. I had just got out of the Navy and had nothing to show for my life. I was deeply depressed.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to interview for the coaching position. My former coaches reference was good enough for me to get the job. One of my former teammates was also the assistant coach.

On the first day of practice, I was introduced to a room of wrestlers as the new assistant coach. “Welcome, Coach Ashley”. After a few chuckles over my last name, I was immediately placed on a pedestal because of my title. The title COACH gave me instant respect and trust from these wrestlers without ever having to earn it. I’ve never taken that for granted.

The title COACH gave me instant respect and trust from these wrestlers without ever having to earn it. I’ve never taken that for granted.

At the time, my former teammate was going to college up the road 20 miles. His schedule was brutal. He would go to school in the morning, then to a country club where he was a server, then to wrestling practice. A few days a week he would go back to school at night. I never understood where he found the time or energy to do everything but I never once heard him complain. As an immigrant from Cuba, he came to the United States at 12 years old. I asked him once how he managed to do it all and with a smile on his face he said, “I’m living the American Dream.”

The new head wrestling coach was an older gentleman. He was caring and warm with a flare of passion for the sport. It was something that I’ve always admired about him. As the season went on I developed a good relationship with him. All season long he nagged be about going back to college, “even if its community college”, he said. I would dodge the question by telling him I was content doing what I was already doing. What he didn’t know was thatI vowed never to go back to college after I dropped out the first time.

Despite my reservation for going back to college, the summer after wrestling season was over, I enrolled in one class at my local community college. I couldn’t bare hearing my coach telling me for another season that I should go back to school.

Being in school at a much older age I actually started to apply myself. When wrestling season came back around, I remember telling my coach that I decided to go back to college. He was so happy for me. It was honest and genuine. He wasn’t faking it or saying it as a nice gesture. He was actually really really happy for me.

The next semester I decided to go full-time. After getting my associates degree I applied to the University of Florida and got accepted. Five years later I was accepted into an MBA program at Liberty University (which I’m currently studying).

Looking back I don’t believe I would have been as successful as I am today if I didn’t have people like him in my life. He believed in me way before I ever did.