Like Entrepreneurs, the Really Great Athletes Tend to be Mad

February 3, 2020

Madness is a prerequisite to building a successful business

Unless you were the kind of kid who won spelling bees you’ll be surprised to learn that according to Webster’s, the definition of the word mad is not just angry, rather it is: 1. suffering from a severe mental disorder; insane; psychotic. 2. angry. 3. wildly foolish; rash: a mad project. 4. of animals, rabid. 5. showing a passionate infatuation with or desire for: with about, for, or over. 6. flamboyant: daring.

While I can’t speak to 1, 2, 3 or 4; I can speak to 5 and 6. If you went in search of entrepreneurs the world over you’d be hard pressed to find one that wasn’t passionately infatuated with their vision and extremely daring.

Passion and dare come in lots of shades

My daughter Jillian married Jay Borschel, former undefeated National Champion and All-American wrestler for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. Jay had a simple vision – to win; nothing more, nothing less, nothing fancy, nothing wasteful. Announcers described Jay as methodical, a tactician, a by-the-book wrestler. In fact, there is book about him called Four Days to Glory.

For the entirety of his career, Jay had a purpose; he had people, especially Jillian, in his corner

In the semi-final match of the 2010 National Championships, Jay found himself down, 9 – 3 with two minutes to go. It was then that he exposed the fire in his belly to the world. One reversal, a take-down, a stalling point on his opponent and riding time gave him the seven points he needed to win. Never, ever, ever, in the four years of watching Jay wrestle for Iowa had I ever seen such passion and dare. The announcers were speechless, his fans were hoarse.

In his finals match, Jay took down his opponent, like a tornado blows out a candle

In the early 1980s Bill Gates, a guy not that dissimilar to Jay (in his own line of work), had a simple mantra: a computer on every desktop and in every home, running Microsoft software. That’s crazy daring. Madly optimistic. Look where it got him.

Like Jay and Bill Gates, make sure you start with a vision. Then make sure you have a purpose and get some great people to help you. If, by chance, you make it that far, you’re good-to-go because you’re already a little mad.