TBTM #36: “How To Be A Legit Sponsored Pro Athlete”

One of the questions I get asked regularly by younger athletes and parents of kids in my classes is “can anyone really make a living as a sportsman?”.

This question is still being asked despite the fact that professional athletes have been doing it for ages, literally ages, since even before Rome was an empire.

Of course what they’re really saying is “Can I / my kid make it as a pro athlete?”.

There are two ways to answer this, the technical way and the keeping it real way.

The technical answer is “Yes, technically anyone could be a pro athlete if they put in enough work, stick to the programme and did everything it took to get there and stay there.”.

The brutally honest truth keeping it real is “Out of every thousand athletes, maybe 1 would actually be good enough (i.e. have the talent or skill level) to turn pro. Of that maybe 1 in ten would would probably have the discipline to work to compete at a professional level. So the chances are something like 0.001% that anyone can turn pro.”

That doesn’t actually mean that chances are slim for everyone.

If you have the right genetics and/or nurturing there is a better chance of you making it.

If you’re truly serious about having a career as a professional athlete, then you’ll need to be prepared to accept the truth that you will need both enough talent and enough hard work to make it happen.

My organisation’s purpose of existence is to give athletes the platform to turn pro. I personally don’t believe in grooming anyone for the purpose of becoming just national athletes, because most of national athletes are just amateurs. To turn pro you definitely have to be better than any amateur athlete in your sport, that’s a given. Records mean nothing if they don’t feed your family. Turning pro means you are actually able to make a living just from the sport alone, anything outside of that is a bonus.

Okay, so now here comes the boom, what you need to know about turning pro successfully in 5 points.

How to be a legit sponsored pro athlete?

1) You must be one of the best at what you do at the global level.

2) You must be a professional, in terms of your training discipline and competition performance management. This is what it means by “Train to kill, not train to fight.”.

3) You must be a comedian but not a joker/clown. If you do not understand the difference between the two, you are not a pro athlete yet. You have to be able to entertain with humour relevant to the community and fans in your sport.

4) You must sign a contract that pays you enough to not need a day job. However if you want to keep a day job, that’s all about good schedule management.

5) You must be willing to take public criticism. To be honest, this should be the easiest part because the only members of the public that matter are your fans and the people that buy the products you endorse, treat them right because their purchases pay for your contracts and royalties. Anyone else can say what they want, but they are irrelevant because they don’t help you pay your bills or feed your family.

Reflections: “Soldier Boy’s Reality #9 –

[Originally written on 11th May 2012, but left in my drafts folder till now. The title is left intentionally unfinished because I wanted to pay tribute to the brothers and sisters that keep our world safe from evil. The job doesn’t end when we retire, it’s a fight we face every day for the rest of our lives.]

Mentally we are there,
we are always there,
in The Zone.

Whether we like it or not,
we can never leave it.

That is the way we are born,
what separates us from ordinary men.

We are not normal.
We are the makers of peace.
We pull the trigger that make it possible
for women and children,
and country men
to sleep restfully at night.

We live with the knowledge that when we do,
our intent is to end the lives of men
before they can end the lives of innocents.

That is the price we pay,
for peace of mind.
We make that sacrifice,
our lives spent focused and distracted,
all at the same time.

Solace comes from the knowledge
that when we are able to serve,
those we protect are safe.
That gives us peace of mind.

Security comes from the knowledge
that men we serve with,
want the same.
That gives us peace of mind.

We do not expect anyone to understand,
because they are not us.
They do not stare death in the face
and chase it down.

We know that we cannot lead normal lives.
We accept that this is what we are born to do,
intrinsic gifts to do what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
and who is to be done-in.

TBTM #35: “Context Creates Winners”

I always knew my place as a role player in the teams to make up the points across the finish line.

I was never the fastest or the strongest at any particular specialisation, but usually near effortlessly above average at anything I did. I always knew my place as the specialist of the team at being a generalist. The utility player that can fit in anywhere without changing the team chemistry.

Eventually when I found my place in Adventure Racing where for the first time I learnt that I had an untapped specialisation not really noticed in my past sporting endeavours, “Endurance”.

I was never the fastest in the 400m, 4.8km, or 42.195km, but then I became the fastest at the 400km.

See there how context creates value. You need to find your context. Without context, there is no place.

And being a team sport, being a natural generalist made the transition to Adventure Racing a natural fit.

TBTM #34: “Legacy And Marriage Diplomacy”

What constitutes a diplomatic marriage (marriage of diplomacy) in our context today?

In the time of my ancestors it meant sending a princess to wed a king or prince from another kingdom to establish and affirm diplomatic ties between kingdoms and nations.

Given that by officially recognising my Javanese lineage in my national identity documents, it revives the links to my mother’s  ancestors from an abdicated throne.

The abdication itself was a diplomatic act to give legitimacy to the federal government of a new republic for the benefit of not just the kingdom which resides in a political capital but also to the broader lands of the new republic.

The sacrifice for a greater good. How can you give up the throne and it’s encumbered authority to make way for another system of governance?

That is a question I asked myself in various stages of my career in professional and volunteer life. What would make my ancestors do in my shoes? That helps me to make decisions of what to give and when to give.

Does a king need a kingdom? No, a king does not need a kingdom to serve his purpose. A king’s purpose is to serve and protect his people and put the wellbeing of those whose lives are under his care first before his own. A king is a custodian of the realm and the agent of service to the people for the highest power, which in our context is God.

Carrying on the legacy of my ancestors was not a conscious choice. When I made my first decisions as a youngster, I had not yet learnt of this legacy. I only had the values and upbringing of my parents.

Therein lies the true test of legacy, where do values tanscend? Do values in transcend through authority or responsibility. The legacy of service that I unknowingly inherited is that of accepting an inate sense of responsibility for my people.

Who are my people? The people whose lives I can touch directly or indirectly through my intent and actions.

The decision to make volunteerism and philanthropy my full-time career as a full-time career was neither a logical nor emotional one, it was a spiritual one.

Some might say it is finding your calling. I think of it as the point I became enlightened. Enlightened to the true pure purpose of my existence, that is simply to help and protect others.

In the way of that decision was an offer to build on another legacy, a job offer to succeed an existing leader in running the operations of a global market leader in high technology.

Given that that was a guaranteed huge payday and instant authority that would mean an easier life for myself, family and core team, it was not what I wanted to do with my life.

I was offered a corporate throne, which I turned down.

That was not the legacy I was born to succeed. I have my own inherited legacy, from generations past, of monarchs and missionaries.

I see my work now as missionary work, not for my faith in particular but for the mission of those that treasure and value human life.

Having gone through the various overlapping phases of life as a scholar, soldier, worker (executive) and trader (entreprenuer). When the time came to receive enlightenment, it was easy to turn down the offer and to choose life as a servant.

I give away most of my income to charity and run what is in reality a professional charity or rather fancifully labelled a ‘social enterprise’. I get by on the values of frugality and modesty. Though it must be said that I do not consider myself a modest personality, I am happy to live through modest means.

I do have side careers as a developer of ideas and assets in the sectors of building, technology and finance, but those cumulatively occupy less of my time in total than mission work, philanthropy and volunteerism.

Am I a leader? No, I am a servant, my employer is God and my customers are the people. I go where God means for me to be and do/learn what is meant for me when God means for it to happen.

Am I a religious person? Not by ritual, no I am not a strict ritualist. I am a faithful person, that is my name literally, ‘Eman’ or ‘Iman’ however you spell it means ‘Faith’. I have faith in God and his plans for my fate.

That said, I don’t actually live in the moment and go where the winds blow. I do what is necessary to create the peace that is needed in the hearts and minds of my people regardless of whether they know or appreciate it. I have done things in my life that I will have to live with and answer for at the day of God’s final judgement, and I am at peace with that because I know that was the path I had to take to serve my purpose in this life.

I am still young and have many more years left in this life. Life is long enough to make mistakes to learn from, and I will be learning my whole life. I will never be perfect, but I will and must always be growing.

I do not want to leave a legacy of my own. I only exist to sustain that purpose which already exists for the benefit of my people, for there are no true kings on this world, only servants of God.

Now back to ‘diplomatic marriage’, what does it have to do with everything I have just said?

Well it has everything to do with it. I realise that whomever I marry, it will always be a diplomatic marriage because it will tie me to opportunities to be part of another culture and experience the world through the eyes of another person. That is the value a relationship should create, the elimination of selfishness that exists within us as individuals and make us wiser for it. All  functioning marriages and partnerships are in essence  such “diplomatic marriages” that bridge different world views and create enlightenment that should make us better people.

Whomever it is that we marry, has the ability to make us better people from the experience. However it is still up to us to appreciate and learn from that experience.

Which brings me to my final point about legacy. I am in no rush to be married, because I know that when l am ready and fit to create that value in the life of another person, that God will entrust that respobsibility to me then. However until that time comes, my focus must remain on my missionary work and what I must do to sustain it.

Generations of my ancestors have lived faithfully by God’s plans and I should have no reason to waiver from their legacy.

TBTM #33: Blood Donation and Endurance Training

This video on endurance training (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQ7alNd1oRo) explains the logic behind my endurance training methodology. And why my pre-season training appears to take only two months to prepare for a 4000-8000km tour season.

I’m also going to explain why blood donation is good for super endurance athletes like expedition class racers that do typically 300-800km per race.

Your body naturally creates new red blood cells during a regeneration period after donating blood.

Because the body treats the regeneration of lost blood as a recovery from injury, it accelerates production of tissue and cells as compensation to make up for for any potential diminished function during recovery.

Your body generates these new tissue cells in response to the functional expectations of your conditions of athletic performance you train it for.

So when you engage in endurance training like my ritual long slow distance (LSD) training it compensates during the regenration of blood volume with more red blood cells, and accelerated musculoskeletal and cardiovascular infrastructure (blood vessel) growth to adapt to the conditions it is required to function in.

So when you engage in training during the regeneration window (of two months for me personally) after blood donation, your body is naturally conditioning itself for the specific operational functions you are training for with the required blood composition, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular infrastructure to support oxygenation and energy transmission expected of it to function in such race conditions.

The physiological infrastructure developed stays with you as long as you continue to train. However the body is still an organic machine that has it’s natural biological and mechanical limits, it needs to rest eventually, which is why you see me totally stop training for a total rest and recovery break every post season. At the end of every post season break I assess what my current baseline is at that time and plan my pre-season accordingly.

Nature has it’s way of handling everything, you have to understand it and work with it. Don’t fight it or abuse it. Keep building on it.

It took me years to develop the physiological infrastructure to compete at expedition class. That base line means I have a specific physiological starting point that is unique to my body. That’s why my pre-season is two months.

You have your own unique base line, you have to train according to what level your body is functioning at and train for the specific functions you want your body to perform. Take the time to understand your own body and how it responds to training and development. Own your training and make it yours. Do what works for you!

It is better to train alone at your level and push for a higher level than it is to train down with training partners that function below your performance level and compromise on development. That’s why you see elite athletes train individually if they are not training with others of the same standard. 

It is ok to be peerless in training if you want to be peerless in competition.

When I’m back home in the off season, I train alone, and I love it. No distractions. Just pure focus on developing for my specific goals.

When I link up with my team in pre-race we train together because we are peers in standard and cause.

There is less difference between training individually at home and as a team with other expedition class racers of our level, than there is training down with a group of amateurs.

That’s why you might see me train groups of amateurs but I don’t actually train with them. It is a totally different standard and cause than when I train myself for competition. I train them to achieve their goals at their own pace of development and make them set their own standards and goals, I never impose my own standards on them because it is and must be about all them not about me. When I train myself it is and must be all about me and my team’s goals.


TBTM #32: I Don’t Have To Say What Can Be Surfed

I do get told quite often by my friends that they don’t really know what I do or that it’s kind of vague or mysterious.

Well that’s exactly how it should be, because I never tell anyone outside my inner circle what I really do when I go on assignment.

It’s already difficult enough for most people to understand the System Architect job description, which also happens to be a high security vocation because of the confidential nature of the work of designing and setting up Building Intelligence Systems, which also involves integrated security and surveillance systems.

So when it comes to work directly involving secure access and asset management, I obviously would talk even less about it. For that matter usually say nothing about the specifics of the jobs and assignments. Which usually becomes an issue for some people that can’t understand why I don’t talk about it.

Which is why when I chanced upon the Mozayix website (https://mozayix.com/security/) earlier today when researching new assignment offers, I immediately realised that this would take one huge ass monkey off my back.

The Mozayix does almost the same stuff and the site explains plainly enough what my old SBU, the “International” unit, did “in-house” for the energy company that I use to work for.

I can’t believe they put that much info on the site but I think it’s great. It’s more than we ever talk about off the clock, and to be honest a little uncomfortable to read, but the great thing is now I can continue to not say anything to explain what I did. So now, anytime anyone of my friends wants to know what those pages of my life were about, I can just tell them to go to the site and read about what I don’t talk about.

TBTM #31: Safety First Always Because We Are Pro Adventure Racers Not Amateur Thrill Seekers

Reviewing the equipment list for XPD and the other world series races. Without a doubt the most expensive piece of equipment are the fully fitted MTBs at approximately ($16k-22k each). 


The most important however are the relatively cheapest equipment of the racer’s pack: THE SAFETY EQUIPMENT! The Helmets (Bike & Water) ($70-200), the PFDs ($80-200 each), 2G Mobile Phones (Trusty Nokia) ($25 each) for emergency casevac, the Waterproof Bags to keep the phones dry at all times (Good ol’ Ziploc 1 Ga Freezer Bags) ($5-6 a box), and Mylar Space Blankets ($1-3 each) to fight Hypothermia.

Call AR crazy but we are sensible, the most important gear, SAFETY gear, is the most affordable. AR is a sport where the most important thing is safety. And this is always emphasized in every aspect. Competitors are not allowed to enter professional races if they cannot demonstrate requisite competence in all race discipline skills, water survival skills and adequate fitness levels. It is the culture and the mindset of AR Professionals. 

If you think you want to do it for thrills and adrenaline you are not the right person for AR. AR is for people with drive, determination and discipline that can handle sleep deprivation, and physical and mental stress without losing composure and control. 

AR Competitors must also be skilled in rescue (deep water and wilderness) and lifesaving, because as a team sport you not only work together to keep your team mates safe but also look after fellow racers in other teams. We are a community. 

No racer has died in the tour. Given that racers compete across distances from 300 km to 1000+ km in forests, mountains, deserts, rivers, lakes and oceans. The culture of safety in the AR community is the reason why.