Jane Bolin is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in South Florida, an author, speaker and founder of PeytonBolin, PL, a community-minded real estate law firm, and is a co-founder of Giannell Title. This is the second of five posts in our "Empower" series, highlighting stories of empowering your words, strength, family, gratitude and teams from EO member leaders who spoke to an audience of global women entrepreneurs at the 2017 MyEO Women of EO Summit in Athens, Greece. The following is modified from Jane's speech transcript with permission.
I am a strong woman, I always have been. I grew up in Washington, D.C. at a time when it was white kids, black kids and occasionally Chinese kids. I'm Korean American. And it was 1975, so I had to figure out how to survive in my world. I decided to become strong. My mom would say, "Jane, so strong on the outside, so soft on the inside." Moms are always right.
Physical strength was important to me. My parents didn't get it. They focused on academics, and I wanted to play field hockey, lacrosse or soccer―but was only allowed to swim. Which I did, until my first day of college.
The day I moved into my dorm at Radford University I saw a placard: "Play Women's Rugby." So I did, for four years―emerging as team captain. I wore my bruises as badges, thinking, "I am tough; this is awesome." Women rugby players are by definition empowered by their strength. After college, I played on a club team until the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself.
What's the most physical American sport of all? Football, of course!
I had the unbelievable opportunity to get in on the ground level of the Women's Professional Football League (WPFL). I tried out, raised US$5,000 on instinct―it wasn't a requirement―and went to Minneapolis. We had two teams; we'd do a barnstorming tour like a League of Their Own. I gained 40 pounds to be a defensive end but was still too small, so I became a middle linebacker with the second-highest number of tackles in the league.
The players all left jobs and families to go to Minnesota with the dream of playing women's pro football. The league managers made promises but didn't keep them, and that's when my leadership emerged. This dream was not going to die. I did whatever our team needed. Our jerseys weren't clean? I cleaned them. No bus to get us to New York? I found one. We took ourselves to New York, played in the Meadowlands, and it was phenomenal.
I reveled in the experience, but by the end of the season my knees were hurting, and I was only in my mid-twenties. So, I turned in my cleats and went to law school because that's what you do, right!?
Fifteen years later, I found women's Strongman. You've seen it on late night TV―huge guys pulling planes and deadlifting tons of weight. I came across the opportunity to pull a Ford Explorer with people in it. I put on the harness, pulled that truck and was totally hooked. I thought, "Oh yes, at 40, with a bad knee, I'm going to do women's Strongman. And it is going to be awesome."
I didn't realize how that decision would illuminate so many powerful life lessons.
I figured out the real story of how to empower your strength during my first Strongman competition. Proper training takes months, but I had just 12 weeks. Being a successful entrepreneur, I went to my toolbox. What's the most powerful thing we have? "You don't know what you don't know." So, what did I do?
I hired a coach. I've had business coaches, personal coaches, life coaches―all fantastic. But training for Strongman is when I finally realized that what's powerful about coaching is being coachable. With 20 years of athletic experience, I could've questioned my coach's strategy. But I trusted the process and decided to become as coachable as possible. He even mentioned that I might have a chance of winning.
That's when I had a second insight: you have to clarify your vision. I knew Strongman would be fun. But was I just going to compete? No.
As EOers, we are very clear about intentions. I wanted to win. I wanted to be the novice who shows up out of nowhere, with no YouTube channel or Instagram videos, and wins.
So, I enrolled everyone around me: my coach, husband, son, friends and anyone who would listen. I'd say, "I'm going to win this Strongman competition. It's happening."
And here's my third realization: Why I won was not just because I trusted the coaching process and trained hard, though that's part of it. And it's not just because I had a clear vision. I won because I actually did what I said I was going to do.
How do you train for something while running a business or two? You get up at 5 a.m. You don't make excuses about how busy you are or how late you worked. The most important thing is that you do what you say you're going to do. It's critical.
The real excitement about winning was not only becoming empowered with my own strength but gaining the power to produce results with velocity. Only 12 weeks to train? Where else in your life can you produce results with that level of velocity?
That's how I empowered my strength.
I encourage all of you to do the same: You may not think of yourself as physically strong, but you have strength.
Trust the process. Clarify your vision. Do what you say you're going to do. That's how you find your strength and realize your power.