You know, it’s pretty crazy that a person like him can go to a hotel and pay for a room and get an office, but that is what the business of life coaching is. But this is the time where people are starting to ask these questions. “I want to be a businessperson, I want to be a doctor,” and there’s nothing wrong with that. But some people don’t quite get it at all. And I don’t blame them.”
One of my first interviews with Stahl was in 2005, when he was in his early forties and was running a health program for his high school students. His idea was for his players to sit in front of a video screen and watch a series of motivational videos. If you were able to do that, he told me, you might even be able to beat some of the odds that plague the sport of fitness and sports psychology in general.
“Let’s be realistic,” he said. (I’ve since been told that Stahl had actually quit trying to beat the odds; he now spends his life coaching college and professional athletes.) “You can’t beat anything that comes in the mail. We have to make it work, and we have to be honest with ourselves, which means we have to take chances in life.”
One of the biggest ones Stahl has taken is getting younger athletes. “You know what is most important in life?” he said. “Money, and that’s it. That’s about it.”
I thought about the many times I had been told that I couldn’t be a successful businessman and a world-class athlete because I couldn’t afford to do either of those things. Maybe I’d grown up in a place where a paycheck was king, and I just couldn’t see how I could be a man. Maybe I have some inherent lack of discipline, or maybe I’ve always had my priorities a little bit too high.
But here I am at 44, in the middle of making an unprecedented living as a father of four, a husband to my wife and a parent to my 10-year-old daughter who is obsessed with tennis—she had been doing the same since she was in elementary school. My wife and daughter don’t have the same career ambitions—she’s on maternity leave for the foreseeable future and won’t see her child play outside of the local park—so the only way I could possibly think about getting myself out of my own way is to change the way I view the game.
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