I’m coming up on eight years of running a business. I’ve been beyond blessed to do this full-time as a career and provide for my family. It hasn’t been easy and never will it be. That’s what makes entrepreneurship so challenging. If it were easy everyone would do it.

Reflecting back on these past eight years I believe these 3 reasons are why I’ve been so successful.

1. I believed I was better than everyone else
Before you call me arrogant, you have to understand where I’m coming from. If I were arrogant, I would have come off as overbearing and offensive about being better. I’ve never done that. I respected all my personal training friends for their passion for helping others. I just humbly and honestly believed I could do it better and was able to prove it by the progress my athletes were experiencing because of my coaching. But more than that it was the way I understood how to teach movement that I felt separated me from the conventional personal trainer. It all started 22 years ago.

At ten years old I was diagnosed with ADHD. My teachers would complain to mom about my inability to stay focused in class. I couldn’t sit for too long without getting fidgety or anxious. I had a “behavior problem,” they would say. Subsequently, my grades remained average for a very long time. Ultimately, it wasn’t my grades, rather, my “behavior problems” that placed me on Ritalin in 7th grade. Needless to say, I’ve always struggled to be a “good” student. The medicine did help me focus and so did my grades but it came at a cost to my personality. My mom said it turned me into a “zombie.”

By high school, I was off the medication and though I was mature enough not to cause my teacher’s too many problems, learning and comprehending new material was harder than ever. They all presented identically. I called it the “cookie-cutter method.” They rarely asked questions, and continually tested us without ever stopping to see if we were comprehending what was being tested. I hated school becuase of that. I came to realize that my teachers secretly believed we all learned the same way. They might not have thought that way, but they were surely teaching like they did.

I barely graduated high school. If it wasn’t for sports, I’m positive I would have dropped out of school.

I barely graduated high school. If it wasn’t for sports, I’m positive I would have dropped out of school. In contrast, being an athlete, provided a different environment for learning that I excelled at no matter the sport. I enjoyed sports because I was able to move freely. I wasn’t stuck to a seat for 8 hours-a-day. Secondly, I always favored the approach my coaches used to present new material. They’d show a new skill by using verbal and visual aides. For instance, If my wrestling coach wanted to teach me a new movement they grabbed a partner (visual), showed the movement in its entirely, then broke it down step-by-step (verbal). Then he would have us drill the movement over and over while he came by and reinforced the new exercise by giving us a physical cue (tactile). He would grab my foot and place it exactly where it needed to be before going on the offensive. “Mario make sure to set your foot right here before attempting the takedown” he would tell me. Learning came easy to me that way.

Years later when I was in college, I used those same skills I used in sports and transferred them into the classroom. I would take the new concept I was learning in class, break it down step-by-step, then drill that idea over and over until it became natural. At the same time, I began applying this principle with my personal training clients. Every session I would introduce a new movement; showing, demonstrating, and breaking it down the same way I did in my coursework. My clients learned fast because of it.

When I watched my peers train other clients, it reminded me of my pre-Ritalin years. The trainers were talking way too much–confusing the client into oblivion. Once the client did finally get to test their new skills, it was a train wreck.

The biggest reason I knew I was better than everyone else at coaching was that I could empathize with my clients as struggling students. Just like I was. I knew where they were coming from and believed my model of coaching provided the atmosphere to succeed.

Now that I’m much older I’m grateful for my struggles I had in school. If it came easy to me I don’t think I would coach the way I do or even have the patience to coach in the first place. To think that a jock like me could graduate college, be in grad school, and own a business just blows my mind.

If I didn’t think I was better than everyone else. I would have settled for less.